Tag: Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West

Weird Western Wednesdays’ Guest: Misty Massey

Weird Western Wednesdays
Weird Western Wednesdays

We’re still pointing all wagons  west, the weird west, every Wednesday. Weird Western Wednesdays are devoted to the wonderful and often wild sub-genre of speculative fiction, weird westerns.  Guest authors will contribute a posts discussing weird westerns.

Welcome Misty Massey, brilliant writer, lover of all things weird western, and a great person to Pulp Reports.


When I was a kid, I found most westerns boring. Good guys wore perfect white hats and saved the day, bad guys wore black chaps and always got shot. The good Native Americans were weak, the bad ones were strong and they all spoke in broken English. All conflicts revolved around gold, cattle, water or land, and were always resolved with gunfire. For a kid who was always searching for the fantastic in her everyday life, this was just dull. Surely there was something more going on, some sort of strange and unusual power at work under the surface.

lg-book-WWWThen I discovered The Wild, Wild West. For those of you who are unfortunate enough to not know about this show, it was the original steampunk western, long before the word ‘steampunk’ existed. JamesWest and Artemus Gordon were Secret Service agents assigned only the most unusual cases that threatened the United States. They had their own train, which was comfortable and luxuriously appointed. The train had a laboratory car in which Artemus Gordon could tinker and invent all manner of interesting gadgets he might need to help Jim West out of the eventual situation he always found himself in. A cue stick that could shoot a bullet, a breakaway blow-torch, each piece hidden in each of West’s hollowed-out boot heels, a telegraph mechanism in a cane. Anything they might need, they could invent and carry with them, instead of having to depend on the limited resources of the frontier. Artemus Gordon was a master of disguise, able to become a drunken prospector or a German scientist with the flip of a wig. And I always loved what Gordon wore on his own time – dapper, stylish jackets and hats that would have looked quite at home on a riverboat. When I played with my friends, I always chose to be Artemus Gordon.

You know what else was cool about The Wild, Wild West, though? It featured a great deal of diversity for its day. Back in the 60’s, good guys were always white men and they were continually saving weak white women from the nasty Indians. And yes, the heroes of The Wild, Wild West were white, straight men. But women were, time and again, used less as window dressing and more as characters in their own right. They played powerful villains, or brilliant scientists, or even capable assistants, but at least not all the women were saloon girls or schoolteachers. And also unusual for the time, there were all sorts of skin colors represented in the show. Black, Native, Mexican, Chinese…many non-white skin colors that populated the real frontier made an appearance on The Wild Wild West. And despite stories to the contrary, the first scripted interracial kiss was not on Star Trek, but instead happened over two years earlier on The Wild Wild West, when James West and Princess Ching Ling (played by Pilar Seurat, a Filipina actor), shared a white and Asian interracial kiss. These days we can look back and find fault with much of what was happening in those stories. James West was at least as bad as James Bond in his view of all women as sexual conquests, and names like “Princess Ching Ling”, “Bright Star Chief” and “Princess Wanakee” were hideously racist, but for the day, it was darned progressive.

Nowadays, we as writers do our best to populate our worlds with all the colors and genders that lived on the American frontier during the historical period we’re playing in, and one of the most important things we can do is remember the mistakes of the past so we never make them again. I hope that someday we live in a world that looks back at our work and sees not only our desire for something magical and lovely hiding under the trail dust of our stories, but also the progress we were making toward a truly blended, global society.


You can find Misty Massey online at:

Twitter- @mistymassey
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/misty.massey.3
Website http://mistymassey.com

Weird Western Wednesdays’ Guest: Milton Davis

Weird Western Wednesdays
Weird Western Wednesdays

October is Black Speculative Fiction Month! To celebrate, we’re heading  west, the weird west, every Wednesday. Weird Western Wednesdays are devoted to the wonderful and often wild sub-genre of speculative fiction, weird westerns.  Guest authors will contribute a posts discussing weird westerns.

Welcome Milton Davis to Pulp Reports.


 

The Rite of Passage Saga: Exodusters, Artifacts and Africa by Milton Davis

Fantasy and alternate history stories based on African American history and culture are few and far between. Most stories written about our past are historical fiction, telling the lives of black men and woman as they struggled and sometimes triumphed against slavery, or historical tomes on the black men and women who excelled despite the oppression of slavery, Jim Crow and racism. But there are few stories centered in that brief period of hope known as Reconstruction and the disappointing years following that failed effort.

LostTrailsMy story ‘Kiowa Rising’ is one of the few fiction stories that takes place in the time period after the Civil War and is part of a series of stories based in the ‘Rite of Passage’ universe created by Balogun Ojetade and I. The Rite of Passage stories evolved from my short story ‘Rite of Passage,’ about a young girl named Dorothy who witnessed an extraordinary act while part of group of enslaved Africans escaping the south with Harriet Tubman. Later as a grown woman Dorothy,, living in Nicodemus Kansas, encounters the same man who enlists her to help him on an adventure then bestows to her the source of his power; an artifact necklace which he was given hundreds of years ago during the Middle Passage. She learns she is not the only one gifted powers by these special powers. Others find their way to Nicodemus as well, each under the tutelage of Harriet Tubman. They eventually form a ‘Steamfunk’ superhero force dedicated to protecting the black citizens of Nicodemus.

Because these stories take place in the West, they fall under the category of ‘Weird Westerns.’ When I wrote Rite of Passage it came from the simple thought of what if Harriet Tubman had help, and what if that help came from a person with super powers? As a history buff I see so much potential to tell stories like this based on African American history, but it seems that many writers shy away from looking at this time in our history. I personally believe it’s because our history in this country is one filled with such horrors, pain and struggle that many of us would rather look forward. But within this harsh reality I see bravery, courage, defiance, endurance and perseverance, all qualities that have allowed us to continue to progress and excel up to this point.

Rite of Passage and Kiowa Rising are the first of what I hope to be many stories centered in this universe. Three years ago Balogun Ojetade and I completed a film titled Rite of Passage that serves and an introduction to some of the characters. We hope to have it ready for showing in 2016. We hope to expand our world through stories and films going forward, including black history and historical icons as we move forward.

Our history in this country is much more than slavery and racism. While we must always strive for a better present and future, we mustn’t forget the past and the lessons we’ve learned from it. We must also make sure we understand and learn that our history is much more than just slavery, that it goes beyond the Middle Passage to our African roots, and that it is filled with positive and inspiring events and people. This is part of what I seek to do when writing stories, be it Weird West, Steamfunk, Sword and Soul and Cyberfunk. It’s about linking the struggles of and triumphs of the past with the struggles, triumph and hope of the present and the future.

MiltonMilton Davis Biography-Milton Davis is a research and development chemist, speculative fiction writer and owner of MVmedia, LLC, a micro publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul. MVmedia’s mission is to provide speculative fiction books that represent people of color in a positive manner. Milton is the author of Changa’s Safari Volumes One, Two and Three. His most recent releases are Woman of the Woods and Amber and the Hidden City. He is co-editor of four anthologies; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griot: Sisters of the Spear, with Charles R. Saunders; The Ki Khanga Anthology with Balogun Ojetade and the Steamfunk! Anthology, also with Balogun Ojetade. Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade recently received the Best Screenplay Award for 2014 from the Urban Action Showcase for their African martial arts script, Ngolo. His current projects include The City, a cyberfunk anthology, Dark Universe, a space opera anthology based on a galactic empire ruled by people of African American descent, and From Here to Timbuktu, a steamfunk novel.

Milton resides in Metro Atlanta with his wife Vickie and his children Brandon and Alana.

Get copies of Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West – Volume 1 Today.

Weird Western Wednesdays’ Guest: Carole McDonnell

Weird Western Wednesdays
Weird Western Wednesdays

October is Black Speculative Fiction Month! To celebrate, we’re heading  west, the weird west, every Wednesday. Weird Western Wednesdays are devoted to the wonderful and often wild sub-genre of speculative fiction, weird westerns.  Guest authors will contribute a posts discussing weird westerns.

Welcome Carole McDonnell to Pulp Reports.


I remember the first story that devastated me: it was a fairy tale and it was Hans Christian Andersons The Little Mermaid. A sad work quite unlike the happy Disney film version, it taught me the world was unfair, that a kind-hearted person could work hard for a particular and peculiar heart-loved treasure and yet not receive it. It was not merely the simple act of not receiving the treasure that bothered my tween heart but the fact that the treasure had been stolen, willfully, cunningly, and by someone with a rationalizing conscience. The Little Mermaid had saved the prince from drowning. The Little Mermaid had given up much in order to win the human prince. Therefore the Little Mermaid should if life were fairwin the prince of her heart. But she had not.

          Author, Carole McDonnell  The second story to bother but not truly devastate– me was the film High Noon with Gary Cooper. The hero was loved by two women. One pale and blonde. The other dark and foreignand somehow used or damaged goods.

I have always loved and hated Westerns. To me there is no difference between a cowboy with a rifle and a warrior with a sword, lance, or quiver. They are often both on quests, they have a right to wrong, they follow the rules and laws of their times, they exist in a solitary often desolatelandscape. Trouble was, westerns were often upsetting me because of the way they treated minority characters.

So, as I wLostTrailsatched High Noon, I could not see what all was so bad about the Spanish spitfire. She was quite noble, trustworthy, and honest, and she loved the hero. Except that there was that taint of being the other and somehow not being worthy enough. Like the Little Mermaid, she lost her love as well. I suppose Ive always been more interested in stories when a love story and an underdog were involved. And, like all little minority kids who watched TV in the nineteen-seventies, I developed the art of mentally adapting the story being told on the big screen. It seemed perfectly clear to me that Romeo and Juliet were about two lovers from different religions, and that Hamlets love Ophelia was black. That is how we heal ourselves.

Later, when I found out that Hans Christian Anderson had written The Little Mermaid in order to tell the real-life story about a Jewish girls unrequited love for a Christian boy, I understood why stories about the rejected, the unseen, the wounded other meant so much to me and why I simultaneously loved and hated westerns.

Weird Westerns are not my favorite genre but they are in the top ten of my faves. Probably just after wounded warrior fantasies. Why? Because they combine my love of heroes with my love of the fantastic. And when the story is multicultural, all things come together to make the world right again. If not for the Little Mermaid, then at least for me.

I said earlier that The Little Mermaid devastated me. There are two genres of devastating stories: those that clearly open a childs eyes to the fact that the world is unfair, and those that utterly disregard some aspect of the child, such as race or disability. The Little Mermaid may have been a fairytale but it is inherently true. High Noon is about reality but it is not only true but cruel. Why? Because it is part of a canon that excludes. That is the worse kind of canon. I think stories help to set the world right. They either set the world right by not consciously or unconsciouslyignoring certain aspects of humanity such as race and disability. Or they set the world right by warning us about the evils in the world. In that way, stories point to the obstacles we may encounter in our path. I hope the stories in this anthology will help light and right the way.


You can find Carole McDonnell online at:

Twitter-@scifiwritir
Facebook-https://www.facebook.com/carole.mcdonnell1
Website- http://www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/

Get copies of Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West – Volume 1 Today.