K. Ceres Wright

The MICE Quotient

by , on
Aug 1, 2019

Speculative fiction writer, Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), has also written how-to books on writing, including Characters and Viewpoint, and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In the latter book, Card outlines four elements that make up story structure: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event (MICE). A story will typically contain all four elements, but one will predominate, depending on the type of story the author wants to tell. Each element is described below:

Milieu

The milieu is the world in which a story takes place. Authors who love to world-build may choose this element to show off their skills. This type of story typically begins when the main character enters a new world, and ends when they leave (or the world leaves). The other elements should not stand out in any way to detract from the milieu. For example, the characters should be typical of their worlds, and events should either not overshadow the landscape, or should incorporate it into events, such as when Frodo and Sam have to slog through swamps and climb mountains to reach Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. Or when Paul Atreides has to learn to cope with the harsh environment on the planet, Dune, in order to find his true self. In Arthur C. Clark’s Rendezvous with Rama, an alien ship enters our solar system, and a ship is sent to investigate. The story is about how the crew members explore the ship and what they find, and ends when the ship is flung into outer space.

Idea

In this story type, the main characters discover pieces of information to solve a puzzle or answer a question. The story is bookended by a question at the start, and the answer at the end. Mysteries are typical idea stories, for the question of who killed someone begins the tale, and the detective has to gather clues to find the killer in the end. In P. Djèlí Clark’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo, Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, weaves her way through the city’s underside to put together the pieces that will solve the riddle of who killed a supposedly immortal djinn. In Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs has to find out why a rich man was found murdered hours after his last personality backup. And Arthur C. Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, begins with a monolith discovered by apes that lets out a strong radio signal. Why? We learn by the end that it was activated to inform the creator race that proto-humans were ready to move onto the next level in evolution.

Character

Character stories are about growth. What does the main character know, or can do, at the end that she or he could not at the beginning? In this type of story, the writer needs to fully flesh out the main characters and start near the point where the character decides she is unhappy with her life’s status and will work to change it. In Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed, Doro is the main antagonist, who can extend his life by simultaneously killing and possessing another person. He diligently conducts his pet project of breeding humans, all while eliminating those who refuse to kowtow to him—until he meets Anyanwu. She is an immortal healer and uses her powers to help others in her community. Doro latches onto her and tries to control her, incorporating her into his breeding project. She acquiesces for a time, but then threatens to commit suicide to stop Doro from creating new species. He agrees to compromise and they agree to work together on equal terms. In my book, Cog, the main character, Nicholle, grows from a once-failed intern at her family’s company to its savior.

Event

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force,” Obi-Wan once said. This discovery of an imbalance is the crux of an event story. In Star Wars, it was the Death Star coming online and fulfilling its purpose of blowing up planets. In Lord of the Rings, it was the revelation that Sauron was alive—in one form or another. In Blade Runner, it was the escape of four Nexus 6 replicants, who had come to Earth. Before the big reveal, however, the stories centered on the main characters in their world, which drew in the readers and viewers and made them care about the characters. Only then did the true adventure start. The story then ends when balance is restored, with either a new structure to the world, or a revival of the old structure.

Whichever type of story you decide to write, be sure to begin and end with the same type. Readers will be disappointed if they begin reading a science fiction story that promises to be about the discovery of a new world in an alternate universe, and then ends with the main character deciding to leave the adventure and go off to marry and settle down. They’ll be left with questions: What happened in the alt uni? Were there any new life forms? Be sure to satisfy your readers, and they’ll keep coming back.

Balticon 53

by , on
May 23, 2019

I’ll be appearing on a few panels, conducting an interview, and helping to host a meet-and-greet for the writers support group, Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction at Balticon 53. Here’s my schedule:

Black Femininity in Afrofuturism: Saturday, May 25, 11:00 a.m.

African American women have been early adopters of national and international initiatives, such as abolitionism, civil rights, women’s rights, space travel, and hip hop—from Maria W. Stewart’s anti-slavery and women’s rights speeches in the 1830s, to Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement in the 2000s. This panel will discuss the contributions of Black women to the progression of the underpinnings of Afrofuturism.

Representation vs. Tokenism: Saturday, May 25, Noon

There is a long tradition of including diversity for diversity’s sake without making it part of the story. What is the difference between shallow and real inclusion? Does it have to be integral to feel like it’s not tokenism? How does this play out in the far future, in the past, or in original worlds?

Cyberpunk Remastered: Saturday, May 25, 2:00 p.m.

With Netflix’s adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon and Pat Cadigan’s adaptation of the manga-turned-Hollywood-movie Alita: Battle Angel, cyberpunk is alive and well after having first been declared dead in the 90s. Elements of cyberpunk have been subsumed into pop culture and can be found everywhere now—movies, music videos, video games, and more. How have the older tropes evolved in the last few years and how do we expect to see them incorporated in future works?

Muse on This Podcast with Sue Baiman: Saturday, May 25, 4:00 p.m.

Muse On This is a podcast focusing on interviews with creative people, and their inspirations and thought processes. Sue Baiman asks the questions to find out what makes the creativity flow. Featuring author K. Ceres Wright.

Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction Meet-and-Greet, Saturday, May 25, 5:00 p.m.

Come out and meet the members of Diverse Writers And Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF). Food, fun, and giveaways! There will also be a free screening of the award-winning short film, Rumination. The writer/director will be on hand to answer questions.

Story Excerpt: Leaving Seadover

by , on
May 23, 2019

London–Paris Archipelago

December 10, 2065

Rayne Lyncott strolled down the walkway overpass that ran the length of the London–Paris Archipelago, just outside of Seadover. A few joggers shared the overpass, who, upon spying the police badge hanging from her waist, moved to the other side and gave her ample leeway. Rayne was waiting on the forensics team to record a crime scene and render the hologram, but given the circumstances surrounding the deceased, she had expected it to take longer than usual.

A cold breeze swept off the English Channel, blowing her dreadlocks into her eyes and carrying the saltwater mist that tended to settle into everything it touched. The air smelled of brine and weighty anticipation. She tapped her sleeve to turn up the temperature on her long johns and called up the time. It blinked 9:35 in her periphery, overlaying the view of a construction crane in the distance.

Newly formed and renovated towns served as islands between the LPA anchor cities. Five Ashes, south of London, was a hotbed for crypto merchants, both legal and illegal. Sigy-en-Bray, northwest of Paris, served as a virtual playground for the tech-heads and databorgs yearning for erotic historical adventures, such as a romp in the hay with Marie Antoinette, or a private session with the Marquis de Sade. Seadover, however, was a different matter. It was a high-rent district catering to the well-heeled who wanted a waterfront view and freshly cloned seafood. The small town stood on the British side of the bridge between Bexhill-on-Sea in England and Dieppe in France, and served as an experimental high-tech answer to climate change and rising seas——an aquaculture community. Its homes and small business district were built on floating platforms with sheathed pilings that allowed it to glide up and down in response to water levels. On a stormy day, the entire town would bob up and down slightly from the choppy waters. It was said that living there made one acquire Seadover legs. And every time Rayne heard that joke, she groaned in her soul.

Rayne’s holocaster chimed and she tapped her temple to answer. A transparent image of her boss, Detective Superintendent Kay Winslow, appeared before her. Winslow was seated behind her desk in an office littered with boxes of paper files she hadn’t yet digitized, sipping on a mug of something. Rayne guessed it was a hot toddy, compliments of the whiskey bottle she kept in her desk. Her alcoholism was an open secret; silence was rewarded with a Christmas bonus.

“Superintendent,” Rayne said.

“How’s it going so far?”

“I finished the initial walk-through. Detective Sergeant Jones was already here as responding officer. He had called Bexhill and by the time I arrived, he had sent in the drone and was securing the area.” In fact, Jones’ voice had sounded strained on the caster when he called Bexhill, as if he’d been rattled by what he saw, and Rayne had wondered what could cause a regular purveyor of crime scenes to have such a reaction.

“What’s the status?”

“I’m waiting on forensics. Someone cut off the deceased’s leg. A right bloody mess,” Rayne said.

The superintendent frowned, which was a bad sign. It meant extra work. “It’s Seadover, so we need this solved. And quick. Let’s just say if you pull this off, it’ll go a long way toward your promotion to Chief.”

“Of course…Ma’am. Sorry, I have to go. Forensics.”

Rayne swiped left and rang off. Winslow was a third-generation legacy officer. Hence, someone to be obeyed, but also someone who didn’t know hard work from a bite in the ass. Rayne had begun to wonder if it was all worth it.

She paused to lean over the rail and watch the lights of Calais. Undulating peaks of the Strait caught the gleam of the evenly spaced street lights that lined the bridge. Neon-trimmed buildings loomed, stacked like a toddler’s blocks against the cityscape backdrop. She wondered how many people were being murdered there, among the twinkling lights, that night.

The sight stirred memories of the Orisha stories her grandmother used to tell her of Yemoja——the Yoruban goddess of rivers and streams——and how she protected the oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water. Rayne thought Yemoja would be deeply disappointed in humanity’s stewardship of the planet’s waterways and wondered why she hadn’t already withdrawn the seas into the Earth’s crust until the land’s ungrateful inhabitants died of drought. She was already absorbing the extra heat from climate change, sparing the land dwellers from the worst of it. But perhaps she was lurking, just underneath the surface, hatching a plan for retribution.

“Wouldn’t blame you if you did,” Rayne whispered.

Rayne had just wrapped up a murder investigation in Bexhill that involved a crypto billionaire and a disinherited son, who had taken offense to his new stepmother and her lavish lifestyle. The father was discovered dead in a crashed yacht. Turned out being rich was a risk factor for early death.

“Surprise, surprise,” she muttered to herself. Rayne slid a hand inside her leather jacket and pulled out an eCig. Tapped it on the handrail and the orange ring lit up, brightening to max within seconds. Took a pull. The taste and smell of black coffee filled her mouth and nose, ferrying caffeine to her central nervous system. It was a Thursday, and she hadn’t slept since the early hours of Tuesday. She still had to return to the office and finish writing the report. But it would have to wait until she could get some sleep. She was beginning to hear voices and see shadows where there were none.

 “Inspector? Forensics is wrapping up the crime scene. It should be available on your node.”

Rayne turned toward the voice. It belonged to Detective Constable Phillip Davies, a fresh-faced 23 year-old who had just transferred from Horsham. “Thank you, constable,” Rayne said. She tapped the eCig and the orange light dimmed.

“You’re welcome, sir…uh, I mean ma’am.” Davies’ face flushed red.

“Sir, ma’am, I don’t care which one you use. Long as shit gets done. Just pick one and stick with it.”

“Y-yes, sir.” He stood still, eyes cast downward, flicking back and forth, as if looking on the ground for another reply.

“Relax, Davies.” Rayne sighed. “Tell me, why’d you join the force?”

He paused for a long while. Rayne noted his fists balling up at his sides. “I wanted to help people,” he said.

“Help people. Why do you want to help people?”

“Everyone needs help,” he said, his voice low, eyes still trained on the ground. “Sometimes.”

“Did your mother need help?” she said.

He looked up sharply at her, eyes wide, inquiring.

“I’ve been an officer for 10 years, five as a detective. I know the signs, either you or someone close to you,” she said. “Your dad beat your mom?”

Davies looked away, but said nothing.

“Where’s he now?”

“Vet home for the disabled.”

“PTSD?”

“That’s what they said.”

“And your ma?”

“Home. Pissed. As usual.”

Rayne nodded; Davies’ eyes glistened. She began walking toward the apartment block and reached out to squeeze his arm.

Story Excerpt: A Tryst That Cuts Both Ways

by , on
May 23, 2019

by K. Ceres Wright

Kalinda ran her fingers down the frayed cover of the Wayfarer prayer book. The black leather was dry and cracked, curling tan at the edges. The book contained just eight pages, the rest having been lost long ago to the ravages of time, war, and relocation. She could only read a few paragraphs. The Wayfare language hadn’t thrived among the descendants of the One Million after settlement on distant planets, and she had forgotten most of what she had been taught as a child. She opened to the first page and read.

“Father of the heavens, stars, and galaxies, watch over our journey and deliver us to solid ground. Let our daily bread be sufficient, our fuel abundant, and water overflowing. Guide us by Thy hand among the beacons of the eternal night, until Your light leads us to our future.”

Her reading was interrupted by Mobé, her butler, whose voice sounded overhead, through the speakers.

“Oba Jakande, your cousin, Mr. Okeke, is on the line.”

“Thank you, Mobé. Please put him through.”

After a moment, Kalinda said, “Zuberi, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Cut the shit, Kal. I heard you’ve been making a deal with the Kur Dak behind my back. Is that true? I thought we signed a truce.”

“The terms of our agreement are, and I quote, ‘Neither party will engage in business transactions or mergers that infringe upon the core business of the other party.’ But this deal doesn’t have to do with investment banking, stocks, or commodities. It’s for a …different type of product,” Kalinda said.

“Oh, yeah? What is it? Weapons? Winter wheat? Woolly mammoths?”

“How’d you guess?” she said drily.

“I swear, if you’ve violated our agreement, I’ll file suit, and once your new client gets wind of that news, I wonder how long they’ll stick around.”

“Your desperation is showing, cousin. And I must say, it’s quite unbecoming,” Kalinda said.

“Damnit, Kal, is it true or not?”

She paused, considering what to tell him. “Remember, oh, about six months ago, you lent money to the Global Bank of The Tennance and wouldn’t tell me what it was for?”

An audible sigh sounded overhead. “Fine. It was for repairs to the Nyekundu Gate.”

“Ah…don’t tell me…the Perimeter Worlds want to keep it hush-hush that they’re being attacked by the Green Federation.”

“Bad for business,” Zuberi said. “They officially said the gate was down for maintenance. But there are rumors to the contrary, which I’m actively trying to suppress. So…what’s your story?”

“The Kur Dak want to dip their toe into Cassad investments, but are ignorant of the ways of humans. I’m just a teacher of human customs…and investment strategy.”

Zuberi let out a long, low whistle. “Mbutu said they were getting money from somewhere and were looking for somewhere to put it. I was wondering when they’d come sniffing around. I don’t know about you, Kal, but I’m starting to think these events are not unrelated. Kur Dak new-found money, gate sabotage by the Federation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brythons were behind it.”

“You always suspect the Brythons. Of everything. It’s getting tiresome.”

“There’ve been rumors, Kent and his father, Percival, are up to something more than usual Brython ambition. I think it has to do with what we’re talking about, especially the attacks on the gates.”

Kalinda paused. She didn’t pay much attention to gate shutdowns since she rarely traveled to other planets. Most of them were backwater wilderness on which families had carved out some small oasis of civilization. And the Clusters were noisy with the constant din of construction.

“For once in your life, you may have a valid opinion,” she said.

List of SFF Cons for 2019

by , on
May 23, 2019
Con Name and Link Dates
BaltiCon https://www.balticon.org/wp53/ May 24–27
WisCon http://wiscon.net/ May 24–27
BlerdCon https://blerdcon.com/ July 12–14
ReaderCon http://www.readercon.org/ July 11–14
San Diego ComicCon https://www.comic-con.org/ July 18–21
Confluence https://parsec-sff.org/confluence/ July 26–28
GenCon https://www.gencon.com/ August 1–4
WorldCon http://www.worldcon.org/ August 15–19
DragonCon http://www.dragoncon.org/ August 29–Sept 2
Black Readers and Writers Rock http://www.blackauthorsandreadersrock.com/ October 4–5
New York ComicCon http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/ October 3–6
Baltimore ComicCon http://baltimorecomiccon.com/ October 18–20
Capclave http://www.capclave.org/capclave/capclave19/ October 18–20
MultiverseCon https://www.multiversecon.org/ October 18–20
Baltimore Book Festival http://www.promotionandarts.org/events-festivals/baltimore-book-festival November 1–10
World Fantasy Con https://wfc2019.org/ October 31– November 2
New York Book Festival http://newyorkbookfest.brinkster.net/portal/ Not Posted

I’ll be at Capclave, Sept. 28-30, 2018

by , on
Sep 28, 2018
I’ll be joining the Diverse Writers & Artists of Speculative Fiction – DWASF team at Capclave 2018 in Rockville, MD, on September 28-30, 2018. We will be participating on several panels to discuss AFROfuturism, movies, books, genetic engineering, politics, and much more. Also, there will be a DWASF meet-and-greet on Saturday at 4:30 PM. Discussions will be far-flung, thought-provoking, and entertaining with a healthy dose of fun. There will also be food, drink, and giveaways!

Come find out what AFROFuturism is. How does it affect us as human beings not limited by perceived notions of race, religion, or culture. How do “creators” from many different backgrounds make use of AFROFuturism in their works? Is this merely a flashy promotion for more Black Panther movies or a solid foundation for many new things to come?

Website: https://www.capclave.org/capclave/capclave18/

Hope to see you there!

Get Ready, CyberFunkateers!

by , on
Sep 25, 2015

TheCityCover

I’ve been a fan of cyberpunk since I first discovered it in 2003. Yeah, I was 20 years behind the times, but I didn’t care. I felt a new generation needed to know all about it, so I wrote a cyberpunk book, Cog. But I prefer the short story medium, and searched for a place that would welcome a cyberpunk story with Black characters.

Knowledge Lateef

Over the course of several years on Facebook, I’ve gathered 1,000+ friends, one of whom was Milton Davis. From the ATL. He was self-publishing African-themed books and anthologies on sword and soul and steampunk. Then one day, an idea came to him about a city where no one could leave. He posted his idea on Facebook in the State of Black Science Fiction, and a bunch of writers ran with it, posting snippets of stories in the thread, and linking characters, generating ideas. Then someone said we needed to publish an anthology of all the stories. Balogun Ojetade wrote the manifesto. An artist came along by the name of Natiq Jalil, and said he would illustrate it. A music aficionado named Otis Galloway volunteered to write sound tracks. And a multimedia, multisensory book of stories was born. The City. Cyberfunk.

What is The City?

The City began as a sentient organism living inside a large asteroid. For thousands of years, the organism used the asteroid’s gravity to intercept ships from various planets and galaxies, assimilating the crew and wiping their memories, and giving them new jobs, families, and experiences. No one knows why. It just does. The organism used the assimilated information to build The City and its environment. The first beings to be captured were crew on a Nigerian space vessel. Nigeria was the first to achieve intergalactic travel during the Great Race by the major countries of the planet Earth to be the first to venture outside of the Milky Way.

CityInteriorArt

And if you want to know more about Knowledge Lateef, Street Preacher; the Ooze; and the Tell, you’re going to have to read the book. It’s available on Amazon: http://ow.ly/SDUXc

CityInteriorArt2

We are the writers, and we call ourselves the Cityzens:

Jeff Carroll
Gerald Coleman
Milton Davis
Ray Dean
Malon Edwards
Ashtyn Foster
Otis Galloway
Keith Gaston
Chanel Harry
Natiq Jalil
Valjeanne Jeffers
Alan Jones
Brandee Laird
Kai Leakes
Edison Moody
B. Sharise Moore
Howard Night
Balogun Ojetade
Ced Pharoah
And Yours Truly, K. Ceres Wright

Baltimore Book Festival

by , on
Sep 4, 2015

BBFBanner

I’ll be appearing at the Baltimore Book Festival on two panels:

Future: Charming? Baltimore City as a template for futurism
DATE: September 26, 2015
TIME: 4PM-5PM
LOCATION:
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

What does Baltimore look like in the future? SFWA Guest of Honor Tobias Buckell and a panel of writers, futurists and social designers discuss Charm City’s future through the lens of the engineer, the writer, and the activist. Panel led by Jason Harris (“Redlines: Baltimore 2028”).

Panelists: Anatoly Belilovsky, Tobias S. Buckell, Jason Harris, Nia Johnson, K Ceres Wright

Earl Grey, Hot: Future Food, Fantastical Food
DATE: September 26, 2015
TIME: 5PM-6PM
LOCATION:
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

From food pills to food printers to the latest in Elven lembas bread, our experts will whet your appetite for fictional food.

Panelists: Diana Peterfreund, Cat Rambo, Lawrence M. Schoen, Bud Sparhawk, Fran Wilde, K Ceres Wright Signing Table: Cinda Williams Chima

Confluence SF Convention

by , on
Sep 4, 2015

I attended Confluence in Pittsburgh/Cranberry, PA, last month. Here’s a pic from a panel I was on, “Not Just Anglos,” and a picture with Jennifer Barnes and John Edward Lawson of Dog Star Books/Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Confluence

Confluence2

StarShipSofa Interview

by , on
May 4, 2015

Link to interview:

http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2013/09/11/starshipsofa-no-304-m-bennardo/