Thursday, April 27, 2023


I consider this to be one of the major publishing events of 2023.  Black Empire, George S. Schuyler's long, lost proto-Afrofuturist/badass sci-fi classic is back in a new edition. It deserves to be an international bestseller, with a movie and graphic novel adaptations.

Why am I so impressed? When I read the original book publication from 1991 (my unending thanks to Paul Di Fillipo) it blew my mind, which I thought was impossible. Even back then I was a jaded veteran of wallowing in the weird. 

So, what about it makes it such a brain blaster? Uh-oh, here I go . . .

First, it is historically significant in being a rare example of science fiction written for a black audience. Back in the 1930s the black-owner Philadelphia Courier published a fiction supplement to attract readers Schuyler who worked for them as an investigative reporter, contributed stories under pseudonyms. Black Empire his final effort, published as two serials. 

It’s the story of Henry Belsidus, a Harlem doctor, treats rich white women, and uses his wealth to create the Black International, an organization of young black people he has cultivated dedicated to uplifting the race (“Black genius against the world”) by any means necessary—even if these means are fascistic and terroristic. They take revenge against “white world supremacy” in America, and then go on to reconquer Africa, and send Europe into a new Dark Age. He comes off as both a hero and a villain.

Schuyler didn’t take it–or any of the other fiction he wrote for the Courier–seriously, dismissing it all as “hokum,” but as a protégé of H.L. Menchen, a satirical attitude comes through. I probably should warn that there is something to disturb–or even offend–just about everybody.

And I would like to go on the record as saying that Black Empire is impressive science fiction. Notes in this edition track the sources of the ideas, showing that this is what happens when a brilliant mind, keeping track of what’s going on, is allowed to relax and play with it all, unleashing a powerful imagination. 

I think he had fun. He urged the Courier to provide illustrations to attract more readers, which they never did. Too bad. It is rich in imagery which would inspire an artist. Maybe they still can . . .

Both editions have a list of Shuyler’s Courier fiction–if only they could be found and republished!--and notes for more spec fic that, if written, would no doubt be as interesting.

You should get it and read it. I need to do the same with his more “serious” novel Black No More, in which a scientist finds a way to make black people white.

Friday, April 21, 2023


Chicanonautica, at La Bloga, warns that the May 1st deadline to sign up for “Papí Sci-Fi’s Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom” at the Palabras del Pueblo Writing workshop is coming soon.

We’re talking ancient:





Thursday, April 13, 2023


Norman Spinrad has been a standout in the speculative fiction field since the New Wave days. I’m not talking the pop music trend of the late 1970s. This was earlier, going back to the antediluvian 1960s, around the same time as the French New Wave cinema movement, which was similar, but coming from a different place (remind me to discuss Jean Luc Godard some other time). His Bug Jack Barron is a classic in the spec fic subgenre of deconstructing contemporary reality in an attempt to discover a new kind of future. Keep your corporate escapism, kids, my idea of real fun is to see the big, scary world out there torn apart and made into something outrageous yet plausible.

Spinrad’s The People’s Police is that kind of novel.

It keeps on surprising and is outrageous in a way we just don't see enough these days when you’re not supposed to offend anybody. I was expecting a grim assessment of our world in the days of Defund the Police, but I should have known, after all, this is Norman Spinrad.

It’s set in a futuristic (and a different kind of futurism) post-Apocalyptic/Katrina New Orleans. Yeah, there's some dystopian social commentary, there's also . . . fun! Voodoo and Mardi Gras in the mix make a difference. 

I yearn for science fiction that makes you want to get up and dance. It doesn’t seem to be out there. I’ve come close in my writing, but still haven’t succeeded. The People’s Police comes pretty damn close to being this Holy Grail, not just the subject matter, but the style. The good old New Wave never rocked like this.

Did I say that it’s a whole lot of fun?

I was also impressed with the Voodoo. He did some research and came up with a fresh take on it. I won’t get into the details here, you should get the book and read it yourself.

Maybe the loas got in there, too. There's also good reason for the New York publishers to be afraid. It’s dangerous in a way some don’t think is possible in these times.

It is possible, and we need it. Keep it up, Norman.

Friday, April 7, 2023


Chicanonautica reviews the new Joaquín Murrieta series, at La Bloga.

Yes, that’s the Joaquín Murrieta:

Streaming on Prime Video:

From Amazon:

A global village—or barrio—of sorts: