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Writing: Stranger Comics Debuts Fantasy Novella by Hannibal Tabu March 19, 2014

Posted in 104, entertainment, fiction, shameless pandering, writing on February 19th, 2014 by Hannibal Tabu
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I am very, very pleased to report that on March 19, 2014, Stranger Comics will be releasing Waso: Will To Power, Episode 1, a fantasy novella set in the fictional world of Asunda written by myself and featuring a cover illustration by Hyoung Taek Nam.

Waso: Will To Power

Following in the footsteps of the comic series Dusu: Path of the Ancient by Sebastian A. Jones, Christopher Garner and James Cory Webster, the impetuous son of the chief is forced to take the reins of controlling the tribe after the dramatic events in the Dusu series. The book follows his struggle to help rebuild the tribe in the face of enormous odds in a tale set against the lush junglescape of Asunda’s untamed Ugoma region.

As a writer, it was a wonderful challenge workong inside the fictional framework of Asunda’s rich culture, with its striking linguistic differences and exotic flora and fauna (some of which I got to help create). Working with my editor Josh Cozine and Asunda’s creator Sebastian Jones has been a delight, a thorough education in world building and narrative experimentation.

Waso: Will To Power is a novella divided into six parts (most of which is already written) and will be released at the middle of each month for an affordable price of … wait, what? This can’t be right. Let’s read that again …

… nope, that’s correct. The first of six installments will be FREE, and will be available through online resources like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I hope you’ll check it out and I hope you enjoy it! I’ll have flyers to promote it next week at 6PM when I’m signing copies of Artifacts #35 at Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica.

Watching (Netflix): House of Cards, Season 2 Episode 3

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Fiction: Another Good Trick That I Know

Posted in 104, bad ideas, blame society, children, creativity, entertainment, fiction, parenting, randomness on May 27th, 2013 by Hannibal Tabu
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i will show you another good trick that i know

I wrote this bit of flash fiction and realized I read a lot of children’s books …

Taking off the stovepipe hat, the huge feline shook himself awkwardly, standing on two legs. The inside of the surveillance van was small, but one of his red-jumpsuited partners bumped into him trying to remove, as he said, “these infernal onesies.”

A shrill tone sounded and the cat reached over and picked up a black satellite phone, extending the antenna to activate it, putting the call on speaker.

“Go for the Doctor,” he said roughly, picking flecks of milk and dried cake from his black fur.

“How’d it go?” the voice on the other end, a woman, asked.

“Pretty good, based on the contact high I got from the hallucinogens we pumped in there,” the cat said, smoothing the white fur on his belly with his gloves. “They believed I was what I looked like, and I’m pretty sure the boy thought his fish was talking when that skeptical little twat Sally kept being a killjoy.”

“You stayed in character and went with it, good,” the woman’s voice said, sounding pleased as the two men in red jump suits took off their wigs. She continued, “But you did the job? Hang on, you sound muffled … are you still wearing that mask?”

Chuckling, the cat pulled at his ears, revealing a pale, balding man with salt and pepper hair in streaks on both sides. “That thing’s comfy from inside, as cold as it is out there. My high was wearing off when the twins were doing their thing, after setting up the taps on data lines outside. While they kept the kids busy, I was able to install the cameras and microphones.”

“Do you think the kids will say anything?” the woman’s voice asked, worried.

“The boys down in psych ops had this right,” the man replied, smirking as he started to unzip his costume. “Nobody would believe a giant cat and two blue haired weirdos in a box were ever here. If they did tell their mom, what evidence could they present? That place is just the way we found it … with our own exceptions.”

“Good, then we should have all the intel we need,” she said, satisfied. “Wrap it up and get back to the safehouse, we need to get you three out of the country tonight.”

“Roger that,” the cat-man said as one of the twins, now dressed as a power company employee, took the driver’s seat. Clicking the phone closed, the cat-man said, “That really is that,” as the van drove into the rainy afternoon.

It really bothered me that the CITH disappeared for so long, and that Sally had no lines.

Coincidentally, I don’t see any reason the cheese should stand alone, either …

Playing (Music): “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups

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Funky Cold Medina … Or Timbuktu? Building the world of my Steamfunk story

Posted in 104, business, cheap publicity, creativity, culture, entertainment, fiction, shameless pandering, writing on April 6th, 2013 by Hannibal Tabu
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This is one of a series of blogs promoting the Steamfunk! anthology by MV Media, which features my short story “The Sharp Knife of a Short Life.” This blog was supposed to publish on March 7th alongside ones from other writers in the anthology. Woops. Here we go …

When creating my “steamfunk” story, one of my biggest goals was to not place it on Earth in some kind of alternative history space. “Hannibal, what’s wrong with you? That’s where steampunk is from!” I know. That’s also one of the elements I don’t like about it. Sure, stories like “Men in Black” or the one positing a Black nation in the continental space of north America might feel good, but for me they only remind me of our failures as a people (which is why I would write that sort of wish fulfillment stuff in the future, therefore hoping it could still happen). So, I had to get the heck off of Earth … which led me to Pless.

I created the “planet” Pless for a number of logistical reasons that’d help me in telling the story. I could perfectly set the technological level to whatever I wanted it to be, which was crucial in establishing this as a “steamfunk” style of story, with all the brass and pageantry and pneumatics and what have you. Normally, I go for more … esoteric and futuristic technologies (which savvy readers might note at the end of my work, the moment linking this story to my larger fictional universe), so this was a challenge but one I accepted in looking at the assignment.

Another reason is that Pless’ ambiguous racial history allowed me to sidestep the aforementioned challenges that alternative history poses for my sometimes overcritical brain. The arguable “love interest” is essentially Latino. Two main characters are Black. The lieutenant governor (or whatever I made him, I barely remember some days) was white (based on some late 1800s politician I looked up). The town’s madam is an ambiguous Asian mix. There’s a whole new race that’s nothing like anybody else. Add that to the flora and fauna differences and my little alien “steamfunk” world is almost a character in and of itself.

Finally, growing up at the foot of my great uncle while he religiously tuned in to Gunsmoke gave me a deep sense of possibility in those old western tropes, if I could just sci-fi ‘em up a bit (apologies to Firefly fans). Pless became my untamed frontier, a striking contrast to the super-technological trappings of ‘Dam Clara Perry, a much broader expanse for my lunacy than cobblestone streets lit by gaslamps, patrolled by constables and what gave you.

Where is Pless? Ah, that’d be revealing a big part of Clara Perry’s overall story, which would continue if the proposed Dieselfunk anthology comes along or if I do a set of short stories past the one on my current docket (seeming more likely as more ideas come to me). Suffice it to say there are well-considered reasons for dropping our cryo-frozen NASA scientist there and I have every intention of finishing the larger story begun here. Maybe I just need a new country music song to get me inspired …

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The camera shop was a suggestion from the real NASA scientist who consulted, as she said it’d be a place where strange smells and exotic chemicals and/or technology wouldn’t be looked at too oddly and she could continue the real work, using the “futuristic” technology she brought with her. That worked out really well for what I needed to accomplish for the “apprentice” Jenny Taylor.

I also had to give this place its own depth and nuances, like a fully realized culture. Creating their shared religion, with elements familiar yet haunting differences, was important. They believe in a trinity, but it’s a distant father god Avshalom who sparked life and then buggered off to explore the cosmos, a nurturing, forgiving mother god Iya’a and a daughter Muhsinah cast in the vein of Yeshua ben Josef, sent to redeem through sacrifice. The religion uses elements of traditional African belief (matrilineage, hunter/explorer men and gatherer/nurturer women) as well as tropes from Judaeo-Christianity and some other sources I stumbled upon. The framing device for the story (the song “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry as discussed previously) called for a casket to be sank into water “to the words of a love song,” so that meant composing a kind of hymn that would work as both a devotional of spirit and a romantic overture. Yes, that means I had to sing it, but composing a soundtrack of Plessi spiritual music was a bit more ambitious than I planned. If I ever do a reading of the work, digitally or in person, maybe I could be cajoled into at least humming the tune, for reference. It kind of sounds like “How Do I Live?” by LeAnn Rimes (still very country western influenced, and I heard that a lot as a south bay karaoke host). Anyway, I spent the better part of two nights parsing it all out.

I gave the people of Pless some alterations in their biology. Tying together purple blood with the purple clothing of their funerary rites was a nod to my youngest daughter and two of my wife’s friends, all of whom adore the color, so that’s purely cosmetic. Other alterations had practical purposes — I’d been aiming to redesign humanity since I was maybe six, so tired of the tedium of waste product. If it was all converted into carbon dioxide, something the ecosystem could conceivably handle, well, that’d eliminate some technical concerns and toilet humor all in one swoop, making for a more mature society (I guessed).

Other stuff — ‘Dam Scarlett’s Diversion Emporium, “fluffener,” or the twelve legged bjekk — was just me riffing, kind of like a pianist when the band is playing “Red Clay,” tickling extra ivories here and there but staying pretty much within the boundaries of the tune. I created a small frontier-styled corner of one fairly parochial planet for a reason … that will likely be revealed in a book I hope to put out in late 2014.

The Vanity Pomp was my excuse for a big, splashy visual scene that combined action (you’ll have to read to see what) and steampunk excess and pageantry. It seemed to work and made a good climactic crescendo for the story to achieve. I just kept going back and making the elements of it more ornate and ridiculous until I couldn’t take it (at one point, everybody in the parade was flying), then dialed it back to what I felt would work.

I think it turned out okay. What do you think?

steamfunk anthology cover

The Steamfunk! anthology is available now.

Playing (Music): “Story” by King

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