Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Another Book post: Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation


The other thing I've been reading recently is Rayvon Fouche's Black Inventors in the Age of Segregation. It takes a look at the lives of three turn of the century Black American inventors, Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer and Shelby H. Davidson.

The greatest thing about this book is its scope and the depth of research that obviously went into writing it. Fouche isn't happy with just rattling off a list of inventions and the circumstances under which they occurred. Instead there is a detailed look at the circumstances surrounding the life of each inventor. This ends up involving the most detailed historical account of turn of the century upper class, educated Black America that I have ever come across. He also goes into great detail about the personal politics of each inventor and their engagement, or lack thereof, in the civil rights movement. Its interesting how little has changed philosophically a century later. In the end, we get a living, breathing image of these men and the world in which they lived that is absolutely fascinating. For anyone with an interest in history its a great read.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Another Comic Book Post: Fierce


This weekend, I ended up in New York City hanging out with an old friend. While I was there I passed by Midtown comics specially to see if they had a copy of the Fierce Trade paperback. Fierce is a product of Ghettosake comics(link in sidebar), the brainchild of brothers Robert and Jeremy Love.

The plot is action movie fare. Actually, the entire movie has an espionage thriller type feel. It would work great as a movie. Jamaican-born psychic Jonathan Fierce work for Razor, a special FBI unit. Someone betrays the unit and they all end up dead except for him. In their search for vengeance, the former members of his team all lend him their skills, turning him into a world class shot, hacker, martial artist, explosives expert and driver. With these new skills he returns to Kingston to find out who betrayed his team and exact bloody revenge. As with any good story, there is also a romance between him and the FBI psychiatrist assigned to help him deal with his psychic visions.

The writing is pretty much what you'd expect for something this action oriented. Its enough to develop the characters and make us empathize with them, but not so much that it interferes with the action. The great things about this book are the art and the action scenes. Every single panel is beautifully drawn. Honestly, I can skip the words and just enjoy the images. That's really rare for me. Usually I'm more about the writing than the art. As for the action, like I said before its more than ready for the big screen. I was really impressed with how well the scenes were imagined. I'm guessing the brothers are both huge film buffs. Either way, this takes up a well deserved spot in my collection and I have no qualms about recommending it to anyone.

Sidenote: Below is the cover of Ghettosake's next project, Chocolate Thunder. Its supposed to be a mesh of blaxploitation and martial arts movies on page. Personally, I can't wait.
I also picked up the first issue of Kyle Baker's latest project, Nat Turner. Seeing this art makes me wonder why he was unable to turn out work like this for Marvel's 'Truth' miniseries
Chocolate Thunder

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My long awaited bookreview

Coyote Kings

I was supposed to get this out a week ago. I've already finished two other books and am working on a third. This still remains so far the best book I've read this year so I owe it some publicity.

"The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad" is the first published work by black Canadian radio personality Minister Faust. You'll find a link to his blog on the right. I first came across this book while reading Nalo Hopkinson's blog a while back. I kept meaning to pick it up but then school started up and left me with almost no time for anything else. This summer, my local Borders had it on display so I scooped it up and was sucked in straight away. Of course with recommendations by Sheree Thomas, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and Nalo Hopkinson I really should have expected that.

The plot is basically about the coyote kings, two friends named Hamza and Yehat. Yehat is an engineering genius who builds remarkable inventions as a hobby and yet works as a video store clerk. Hamza is a brilliant writer who got kicked out of college just shy of his english degree and now works as a dishwasher. In their spare time they run a school of sorts for the kids in their extremely racially diverse neighborhood. They're both damaged in their own ways, but they are always there for each other. Into this weird frindship comes Sherem, a mysterious woman who hamza immediately falls for and who leads them both through a wild and supremely entertaining adventure.

So...... what do I like about this book? Well for one, its written by a fanboy who isn't ashamed to be a fanboy. Its chock full of references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, RPG's, comics, De Niro movies and lots of other nerd pop culture icons. In addition to that, it unashamedly afrocentric in its focus and setting. As much as most SF fans would deny it, a vast majority of the genre is written with western perspective. This book is one of the few out there that considers things from a different cultural context altogether. Although I have slight issues with the focus on Egypt that tends to dominate popular afrocentric thought I still like the idea of other cultures getting a chance at the spotlight. Above all though, its just very well written and is one of the few books I've read recently that made me feel the emotions it was trying to convey. If for no other reason than that, its worth the money.

Sidenote: I was surprised to see that this wasn't published by Warner Aspect (long stary. Anyone who was around during the 'race and science fiction' discussion on Steven Barnes' blog knows what I'm talking about) Hopefully this means I can expect more mainstream recognition for black writers in the genre.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Short absence

I've been gone for the last couple of days seeing to some friends and my father as well as doing a little bit of entertaining and installing 64-bit gentoo linux on my computer. I'm back to my daily posting schedule now though. Interestingly enough, the more I write, the more there is to write. The writer's block is definitely gone now. so the plan is to keep going until I run out of ideas. First there's a book review I know Tiel has been waiting for, then I'll start sorting through other things I want to talk about. Definitely expect a post on anime, one on my increasing loathing of what passes for media in this country and at least one on the conclusions I have come to in about half a decade of martial arts practice. That one I'm hoping people will pick apart and tell me if I'm headed in the wrong direction.

Tomorrow then people.