Today I have the beginning to a sequel for you, a continuation of the story I started in Rum Luck (rough draft of that story can be found here). If you like Andre and Jerome, you’re in for a treat. It does end rather abruptly, but there’ll probably be more soon. Read on, and enjoy!
Like it says in the title, this week’s flash fiction challenge is to create characters and convey them in 250 words or less. I’ve had a few knocking around in my head recently, and I decided to let two of them out. I’ve already written stories about both of them before, which you can find (amongst others) right here.
This update is totally last minute, born of a recognition that I forgot to make my usual post today. In fact, by my clock, I’m already four minutes too late. I did spend a goodly portion of my day traveling, but… yeah.
Fortunately, I have some awesome news to share. Do you remember the time that I mentioned wanting to write a Tintin flowchart (way back in January)? I just shared the underlying aim, of writing a new era’s Tintin comics, with one of my friends. They responded by spending fifteen minutes drawing a picture of female Tintin with Snowy, striding along in her trench coat. It looked really good. They were really excited and want to talk with me about this project. So now I’m really excited too. Hell, I just busted out a big goofy smile for no particular reason. No, not true, it’s for a very particular reason; this project is something that someone else wants to work on with me!
I’m not writing this to tell you that you should expect something soon. I’m writing this to tell you that some day, maybe a few years from now, I’ll have another post to tell you about how awesome this thing I’m working on is, and how anxious I am about making it worth your time. But I think that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be telling you that because I have some good old Tintin-esque glorious adventure for you to feast your eyes on. I’m really excited about this.
I wish I’d heard of this book years ago. I think it’s incredibly important, and I wish that it weren’t. Why?
It is so easy, as a white man, to think that you understand troubles that others face, to think that you have read and spoken enough about a given issue to feel like you know more or less what’s going on, and why people feel and think the ways that they do. In many cases, you have to actively search out conflicting points of view and other narratives in order to prove otherwise, and why would you bother doing that when you don’t know about them in the first place? Why bother when you think that you’ve already got a good grasp on things?
In Lion’s Blood, Steven Barnes takes a fundamentally simple concept and uses it to explore a number of things… it’s quite simply a good and fun (if painful at times) book. But the reason that I think it’s important and wish that it weren’t is that it confronts head on that feeling of complacent surety, the comfort of thinking that you know enough about historical (and modern) problems and don’t have to look deeper to examine your own place, your own implicit beliefs.
Lion’s Blood posits a world in which Africa rose to prominence, rather than Europe. A world in which the slaves working the fields of the New World are white, taken from their tribal villages to work the fields of rich Muslim landowners. Steven Barnes tells a familiar tale here, with a narrative that feels comfortably close to our expectations, but it’s one in which all the cultural and ethnic trappings have been inverted from our standard expectations. And somehow that inversion was enough to shake me out of my “ah yes, this story again” complacency. Better yet, it drove home yet again the violence done to people through the institution of slavery, and (I think) might help to wake some up to the systematic oppression which slavery engenders in a society. And, of course, it tells an excellent story, one well worth reading.
Look. I don’t want to ruin this book for you, so I’ll put it like this: this book is sad, tragic, and uplifting; this book is a marvelous adventure story; this book reminds you of why our current society is so screwed up in so many ways, as we deal with the toxic legacies and variably covert attempts to continue the oppressive power struggle at the heart of slavery. I’m deeply impressed. I want my own alternate history to be as good as this book is.
P.s. I found Lion’s Blood on this recommended list of books by writers of color. I intend to go back and find more to read, and would suggest that you do the same.
Also, I’m going to be on hiatus next week; I’ll be working for an awesome theater camp in upstate New York (or as one of my friends calls it, “Narnia”), and I’ll be way too busy to post anything and probably won’t have access to the internet anyway!
Enjoy some more Miska after the break.