Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rain Fall (movie) featuring character John Rain

I recently watched Rain Fall (2009) starring Kippei Shina, Gary Oldman, and Kyoko Hasegawa. The movie is based off the book with the same title, written by Barry Eisler. John Rain is the protagonist of the story, he's half-American, half-Japanese, a former US soldier, and government agent. Now an assassin, his current mission is to eliminate several Japanese politicians, but make their deaths appear as the results of natural causes.

I've read several books in the John Rain series, including Rain Fall, the first written by Eisler. The film was directed by Max Mannix, who directed one other film before Rain Fall called Dance of the Dragon. Mannix also took on the duty as screenwriter.

Hard Rain was produced on a shoestring budget and you could differently see that it suffered because of it. The director/writer deviated from the book in an attempt to give the film a Bourne Identity flavor. Gary Oldman plays CIA station chief William Holzer, who suffers from a severe case of mood swings. Oldman, of course, is the antagonist. He spends half the movie screaming, “Jesus Christ,” and looks ready to pull out his hair, every time things don't go his way. There's also a subplot with a police detective investigating the death of a man, Rain killed on a subway train. This of course goes nowhere and further the plot in any conceivable way. In the book, the CIA Station Chief was someone who betrayed Rain in the past, while the police detective was an old friend. The movie completely ignores these details.

Kyoko Hasgawa plays Midori Kawamura, the love interest for John Rain. She is the daughter of one of Rain's victims. Hasgawa is perhaps the best part of this movie, giving dimensions to a character in a sea of cookie cut-out characters. The director spent little time with the developing relationship between Kawamura and Rain making it hard for me to swallow that these two were falling so deeply in love.

The editing of Rain Fall was absolutely horrible in what I think it was an attempt to cover up the weak fight scenes. It did improve as the movie progressed, but that may have only been because later fight scenes did not last more than a few seconds. Come to think of it, the longest fight in the movie came midway through when Rain encountered another assassin. If you blinked, you would have missed the brawl between them.

The actors themselves did a great job for the material they were working with. Kippei Shina's performance of John Rain matched that of the character from the book. The weakness of the film came from writer/director Max Mannix. If perhaps the film had a bigger budget, Mannix could have made a better movie, but as it stands now, I would say it's watchable if there's nothing else on television.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Balogun Ojetade

For those who know me, I am a writer.
For those who don’t know me, I am a writer.
I write speculative fiction – mainly Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Rococoa and Sword & Soul.
Recently, I have expanded my writing into the  Fight Fiction – aka Action / Adventure, aka Pulp – genre, which was pretty much inevitable because my novels contain lots of exciting action and fight scenes.

What, exactly, is Fight Fiction. You ask?
Fight Fiction is comprised of tales in which the fighting – whether it happens in a temple in Thailand, a boxing ring in Las Vegas, a cage in Atlanta, or in a bar in New York City – is not merely in the story to make it more exciting; or to add a different spin to it. The fighting must be an integral part of both the story and its resolution. Take the fighting out and you no longer have a story. Think Fight ClubRockyBlood and BoneKung-Fu HustleMillion Dollar Baby; and Tai Chi Zero.
Writing fight scenes has always been something I enjoy and that I believe I do fairly well. This is probably due to the fact that I have been a student of indigenous African martial arts for over forty years and I have been an instructor of those same martial arts for nearly thirty years. I am also a lifelong fan of martial arts, boxing and Luchador films.
Recently, I joined a team of stellar authors, who all write under the pen name Jack Tunney (for e-book versions only; paperback versions are in the authors’ names), as part of the Fight Card Project.

The books in the Fight Card series are monthly 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings, and are inspired by the fight pulps of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Fight Stories Magazine and Robert E. Howard’s two-fisted boxing tales featuring Sailor Steve Costigan.
In 2013, the Fight Card series published twenty-four incredible tales of pugilistic pandemonium from some of the best New Pulp authors in the business. I am writing under the Fight Card MMA brand with my book, Fist of Africa.
Here’s a brief synopsis: 
Nigeria 2004 … Nicholas ‘New Breed’ Steed, a tough teen from the mean streets of Chicago, is sent to his mother’s homeland – a tiny village in Nigeria – to avoid trouble with the law. Unknown to Nick, the tiny village is actually a compound where some of the best fighters in the world are trained.  Nick is teased, bullied and subjected to torturous training in a culture so very different from the world where he grew up.
Atlanta 2014 … After a decade of training in Nigeria, a tragedy brings Nick back to America. Believing the disaffected youth in his home town sorely need the same self-discipline and strength of character training in the African martial arts gave him, Nick opens an Academy. While the kids are disinterested in the fighting style of the cultural heritage Nick offers, they are enamored with mixed martial arts. Nick decides to enter the world of mixed martial arts to make the world aware of the effectiveness and efficiency of the martial arts of Africa.
Pursuing a professional career in MMA, Nick moves to Atlanta, Georgia, where he runs into his old nemesis – Rico Stokes, the organized crime boss who once employed Nick’s father, wants Nick to replace his father in the Stokes’ protection racket. Will New Breed Steed claim the Light Heavyweight title … Or will the streets of Atlanta claim him?
I really enjoyed writing this book because I have always wanted to share with the world the fierceness, efficiency and effectiveness of the indigenous African martial arts for self-defense, as well as their transformative powers in the building of men and women with self-discipline, courage and good character. Fist of Africa is a perfect outlet for my unique brand of Fight Fiction, which I am sure you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.
In Fist of Africa, readers will experience jaw-dropping action on the mean streets of Chicago, in the sand pits of Nigeria and in cages in the “Dirty South” (Atlanta), as well as a bit of romance.
Please, enjoy this excerpt, then hop on over to my website, or to Amazon and purchase the book. You’ll thank me later.


Vee-Vee’s was packed. The line of men and women spilled out of the Nigerian restaurant and onto the hot sidewalk as the lunch crowd eagerly awaited the mouth-watering, sweet fried plantains, egusi soup with pounded yam and coconut rice.
Standing in the line, Nick and Baba Yemi still had two customers ahead of them before they were in the door. Nick rubbed his hands in excitement.
Baba Yemi raised an eyebrow. “Is the food really that good, Nicholas? You look … eager.”
You just don’t know, grandfather,” Nick replied. “I haven’t had Vee-Vee’s in over ten years.
You’ve had Nigerian food in Nigeria,” Baba Yemi said. “What’s so special about Vee-Vee’s?”
It’s Vee-Vee’s,” Nick responded with a shrug.
Baba Yemi shook his head.
Excuse me, you just jumped ahead of me,” a woman’s voice said.
Nick peered over his shoulder. A rotund woman addressed three young men who stood in front of her in the line.
Look, lady, we just want to get some plantains up out of here,” one of the young men – a lanky teen with jeans hanging halfway off his butt – said. “You look like you’re about to order the whole damned menu.”
The young men laughed heartily and exchanged high fives.
Teens today have no respect,” the woman said. “If you are the future, we’re in big trouble.”
Shut up, pendeja!” Another young man spat. “That’s moron, in case you don’t know … pendeja!”
More laughter from the young men.
Hold my place in the queue,” Baba Yemi whispered.
Grandfather, don’t …” Nick muttered.
Baba Yemi approached the young men, stopping a few inches behind them. “You are being very rude. This young woman deserves an apology.”
The teens turned to face Baba Yemi. The largest of the trio, a tall, athletically built young man, who had not yet spoken, looked Baba Yemi up and down.
Push on, old man, before you get yourself hurt,” he said.
Baba Yemi smiled and tapped the young man on his muscular chest. “Hurt? How?”
The lanky young man with the sagging pants placed a firm hand on Baba Yemi’s shoulder. “Get gone, old dude, before we kick your …”
The young man hit the pavement with a dull thump.
My hand!” He screamed, clutching at his wrist and writhing in agony.
The Spanish-speaking young man launched an awkward-looking kick toward Baba Yemi’s belly.
The old wrestler side-stepped to his left, bringing his right arm up to scoop the young man’s leg. Baba Yemi shifted toward the trapped leg, grabbing it with both arms in a tight grip. He ducked under the leg, lifting his arms over his head at the same time.
The young man’s knee twisted at a sickening angle. He landed next to his friend with the dislocated wrist, who joined him in a chorus of cries, whimpers and yelps.
Baba Yemi exploded toward the remaining member of the trio.
The young man stumbled backward, then whirled on his heels and sprinted off.
The teen with the sagging pants and damaged wrist helped the young man with the dislocated knee to his feet. “Sorry, ma’am,” they said in unison.
Baba Yemi laid a hand on the shoulder of the young man with the sagging pants. The young man jerked in fear.
Relax,” Baba Yemi said. “Let me fix it.”
The young man cautiously gave Baba Yemi his damaged hand. The old man grabbed the teen’s fingers and yanked hard. The teen winced at the pain of his wrist sliding back into its correct position.
Thank you,” the young man said. “And I … I’m sorry.”
What about my knee, sir?” The Spanish-speaking young man inquired, still gasping in pain.
That is going to require more treatment than I can do here,” Baba Yemi answered. “Do either of you have a car?”
Yes, sir, I do,” the Spanish-speaking youth said.
What’s your name, boy?” Baba Yemi asked.
Hector, sir,” the young man said.
And yours?” Baba Yemi asked the young man with the sagging trousers.
Miles,” he answered.
Miles, take Hector to the hospital,” Baba Yemi said. “They’ll put the joint back in proper position, then you bring him to me and I’ll really heal him. Talk to my grandson over there. He’ll give you the address.”
Yes, sir,” Miles said, approaching Nick.
Thank you, sir,” Hector said.
Vee-Vee’s waitress, who had come outside to see what the commotion was all about, handed Nick an ink pen and an order slip. Nick wrote the address to his parent’s house on the slip.
The two young men shambled off, Hector’s arm wrapped around Miles’ shoulder for support.
Thank you!” The pudgy woman shouted. She wrapped her arms around Baba Yemi’s torso and held him in a warm hug.
The people in line applauded as Baba Yemi returned to his place in line.
We’re running a compound for young thugs out of my parents’ house now?” Nick said, shaking his head.
You weren’t so different when you first came to me, Nicholas,” Baba Yemi said.
True,” Nick said.
So, I ask again,” Baba Yemi said. “What now?”

Available as paperback or ebook: Amazon

Monday, April 28, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Zig Zag Claybourne

I love fiction. Period. Worlds imagined, worlds altered, whether simply reshaped or irrevocably twisted. Anything that fires the imagination is a gift from the gods. I grew up on Star Trek, the Twilight Zone, Sir Graves Ghastly’s Saturday Matinee Movies (for us Motown folks), and the other-realm lives of a bunch of kids ganged up against one named Charlie Brown. Peanuts was “Village of the Damned” minus the world domination, mixed with a psychic dog trying its best to be human.

Which is to say all fiction is speculative fiction. That’s what the spirit of the Butler/Banks tour celebrates, because how else can you get away with writing things like this (from Historical Inaccuracies):

“The only evidence I need of Intelligent Design,” said Senator Bloodaxe, unsheathing his crusted blade and laying it before the security dogs for evidence of illegal killing, “is what I have seen with my own eyes.”
“But, Senator,” someone said from the throng of pelt-clad reporters, “isn’t it true you were once a staunch supporter of the scientific prin—”
“Who said that!” Bloodaxe raged, grabbing up the sword that had sent scores of unbelievers to undeserved glory and swinging it round.
The news crews were used to his rages and smoothly raised shields. The senator calmed.
“Senator, it’s been rumored,” came a crisp, female voice from beneath the turtle’s back of shields, “that you yourself have killed angels and that this conversion is purely political.”
Bloodaxe grinned at their fear. “Face Bloodaxe, wench,” he said, eyes scanning. “Taste congressional steel.”
Movement issued from the rear. Reporters parted until she stood before Bloodaxe (R) from Indiana. The huge man’s eyes narrowed.
“I am Kurok, daughter’s daughter of Couric,” which sucked balls because politicians hated a reporter with something to prove.
“Bring it, wench.”
Kurok approached. “Today is a good day to cry…”

HISTORICAL INACCURACIES contains several science/speculative fiction selections, including the pile-driver “Revolver,” praised by Lois Tilton of Locus Online as “harrowing” and one that delivers. These are stories meant to disturb the dust, call forth the spirits, and sit with you a while.

As Clarence Young, I write humor and drama. As Zig Zag Claybourne I wish I’d grown up with the powers of either Gary Mitchell or Charlie X but without the Kirk confrontations. My fiction and poetry, ranging from science fiction to street-lit satire to magic realism, have appeared in The Wayne Review, Flashshot, Reverie Journal, Stupendous Stories, and numerous online attractions. The books Neon Lights, By All Our Violent Guides, and Historical Inaccuracies are all independently-published.

You can find me scribbling like a mad man at my author site, Amazon author page Zig Zag Claybourne, tweeting or squawking at: @zzclaybourne, while having silly fun at And look out for the sci fi adventure THE BROTHERS JETSTREAM: LEVIATHAN, coming to save the world summer 2014!

Show your credit card a good time at these links, and—by all the ancestors and ancients staring over our shoulders—find any and every way you can to reshape the world!

Paperback – Createspace

Paperback & Ebook – Amazon


Author site here:

Amazon author page here

Site blog here

Createspace (paperback only) purchase here:

Amazon (paperback & ebook) purchase here:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Davaun Sanders

Thanks for checking out the work of all the authors participating in The 2014 Butler/Banks Book Tour. This is a huge year for many of us, and we couldn’t do what we love without the support of YOU, our readers! I hope you’ve been exposed to your next favorite author and encourage you to leave honest reviews of our work wherever you purchased it! Your feedback to other readers who share your interest is pure gold for indy authors.
Please enjoy the excerpt from my first novel, The Seedbearing Prince: Part I posted below. You can download it for FREE on Amazon for a limited time! The Seedbearing Prince: Part II is also available—click here!

Dayn Ro’Halan’s adventures will continue in The Course of Blades, to be released this summer—the third of six total books in the World Breach series. I’m really excited about this novel, it’s going to be the best one yet.

That being said…let’s do a giveaway!

Rules are simple: send me a picture of yourself READING a novel by ANY AUTHOR on The Butler/Banks Book Tour. You use an e-reader? Great.  Reading in costume, or upside down? Even better! Go crazy—just keep it SFW please! Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
I’ll post your pictures to my Facebook and happily send you a FREE ebook of The Seedbearing Prince: Part II OR “The Course of Blades” when it is released this summer. We’ll all pretty much be famous together. It’s all so clear to me.

Let the photobomb commence, because this giveaway ends with the last day of the Butler/Banks Book Tour, April 30th!

The Seedbearing Prince Part I: Prologue

The torrent shifted again, and a thousand shards of onyx flashed to fire as Corian swept through a roiling field of ice and stone. The sheath on his worn black armor held, but would not last much longer. The stream of rock in the space between the worlds drifted slower here, and boasted several floating mountains large enough to hold a layer of air. Green ferns covered the surface of the nearest, providing plenty of cover. Corian was tempted to stop and rest, but crater wolves likely roamed in such thick foliage. The entire World Belt hung on the message he bore to the Ring, and he could rest after his task was done.

A field of red granite stretched in the space above him like the bizarre clouds of some nightmare, the individual boulders careening off each other by the hundreds. Only the hardest minerals and metals endured the endless pounding of the rock flow, and only the most foolish men would brave such a swath of torrent. They were moving the direction he needed to go, into the flow where the rock moved fastest. In the torrent, speed kills, he reminded himself. He was the best courser among the Ring’s Guardians, but the rock never cared.

Corian deftly attached a new talon to what remained of his silver wingline, then heaved it. The metal hook took hold, his wingline snapped taut, and the boulder yanked Corian into the flow. He repeated the process, each time roping a boulder moving faster, until his last guide rock pulled him along at hundreds of spans a second. A layer of white frost appeared on his armor and mask in a blink. He reeled himself in and clung to the red surface, like a flea riding a river bison in the middle of a stampeding herd. He watched every direction at once from his perch, digging his gauntlets into the crumbling surface. The boulder was actually some ancient rusted metal, not granite as he first thought. The torrent here was so thick he could barely see the stars, and it filled his ears with a distant roar.

He sped along this way for some time, until he spied a pockmarked mass of stone and iron, large as a dwarf moon. A cleft right down the middle threatened to split the entire thing in half. A tower in the northern axis had seen more than its fair share of rust, but the light strobing from it pulsed regularly, illuminating the smaller rocks orbiting around it. As a whole, the wayfinder was ugly and old, but the mass of rock was the most blessed sight Corian could imagine after a week of surviving the torrent’s attempts to grind him to powder.

His next wingline took him closer. If the wayfinder was powered as well as he suspected, he could use the array inside it to find out where he was in the torrent, and see how close the Ring lay. He might even find food and water, if peace favored him. A fellow Guardian must stop here often for such an old wayfinder to be this well preserved, he thought.

Smaller debris pelted the wayfinder’s old crust, disintegrating in flashes of light. The surface shone with hundreds of impacts, large and small. Corian chose a crater near the old tower, perhaps seventy spans deep with high walls that would offer good angles to slow himself as he approached.
As he prepared to throw out another talon, dark shapes poured from the wayfinder’s cleft. He stared for a moment, incredulous. There could be no crater wolves on a wayfinder, with no game to hunt, unless they were marooned after striking some other erratic in the torrent. No, those shapes moved with a military precision, more lethal than the deadliest pack. He could see them clearly now, massive men covered in black. “No. Not here!” Corian barely recognized his own weary voice.

The voidwalkers had seen him. A pinprick of light shone on the wayfinder’s surface, brighter than the tower’s regular strobe. He eyed it mistrustfully as he searched for a place to throw his next wingline and change his momentum. He spotted a tumbling boulder half covered with ice, moving away from the wayfinder too fast.

The light near the voidwalkers flashed. A beam of energy rushed into Corian’s path, hot as molten steel. A lifetime of coursing experience kicked in, and he curled his legs up until his knees touched his ears, rolling forward. The strange fire passed underneath him by less than a span. He could feel the heat of it through his protective layer of sheath. The beam burned past, and slammed into a rock fifty spans away. The tumbling boulder barely even slowed in its course, but the spot where the weapon struck—for there was no question that is what it was—glowed red hot at the edges. The glistening center had cooled quick as glass.
Another pinprick of light. He twisted around in the weightlessness of the void to point his feet back toward the wayfinder and make himself a smaller target. It did no good. The beam rushed straight at him, and his world turned red with pain.

An impact jarred him awake. Another. Corian opened his eyes. I’m much too cold. The voidwalker weapon had burned away his sheath. Layers of his black armor were peeling away from the metal plates like paper curled in a fire. He had been caught in a tangle of purple-rooted vines intertwined in a mile long cluster of the floating rock, what Jendini coursers called a knotted forest. The roots were nearly hard as stone in places. Dusty old bones from animals Corian did not even recognize littered the tangles. Debris from the torrent stretched around the forest in every direction, and errant stones pelted the mass of vines, which he immediately recognized. Courser’s nap, the whole forest is covered with it.

Corian reached into a compartment on his armored belt and removed his last flask of sheath. He applied the clear liquid to his ruined armor in quick, smooth motions, not leaving one inch exposed. The sheath locked together in small patches of light, and his body’s heat immediately began to warm the interior of the invisible, protective barrier. Once the sheath was gone, his armor would not prevent the smallest pebble from killing him, if one struck him moving fast enough. For the first time, Corian considered that he may not survive.
This was to be his last circuit as a Guardian for the Ring, and he held the hope that he would look into his grandchildren’s eyes back on Jendini now that his service was finished. Yet his duty hung over him, heavier than ever. In the distance he could see the world of Shard, verdant and green just beyond the torrent’s chaos. His resolve hardened.

He slipped a speechcaster into his mouth and began to speak as he worked himself free of the tangled vines. The small wafer could hold his words in secret for a few days, should things go badly here.
“I am Corian Nightsong, a Guardian of the Ring. There are Thar’Kuri warriors on the world of Nemoc. The voidwalkers have built a device that allows them to…teleport themselves at will through the Belt. They are gathering in numbers, preparing for an attack. There are captives from all over the worlds imprisoned on Nemoc. The voidwalkers have weapons unlike anything known from the Ring. They use energy and can attack over great distances. They must have been made in the age before the Breach.

If you knew where to look for this message, you must deliver it with all haste to Force Lord Adazia on the Ring. The worlds all depend on you, for I have failed them.” The admission filled Corian with bitterness, but he forced a strength he no longer felt into his words. “My sons and daughters live in Denkstone, on Jendini. Tell them…their father served well.”

One of the vines tangled around his torso began to quiver. Corian looked down, fearing a leaf, but instead he saw a voidwalker, climbing toward him. Corian was tall, but the hulking brute easily overtopped him by a head. His glistening black armor looked as if it were melted to his frame, and covered him from head to toe save two dark slits for his eyes. The vines broke like dried mud in the voidwalker’s grasp.
Corian began to climb, scrambling further into the vines. He did not bother to draw his sword, the voidwalker would overpower him in moments if they were to fight.

“So afraid of an old courser?” Corian shouted. He pulled at every vine in his path as he fled, but most of them were stiff and gray. Living vines of the courser’s nap were purple and sticky, but the true danger lay with the leaves.

The voidwalker’s gravelly voice called to Corian, cold as an orphan’s gravestone. “Come to me, degenerate.”

Corian drew his sword, and began slashing his way through the vines. They sparked as his blade struck, but gave way. He leapt through an open space nearly ten spans across. The voidwalker followed without hesitation. So strong. Corian knew the brute meant to take him alive. He could not allow that.

He landed on a solid gray swath, fleshy beneath his feet. He rolled and lunged just as the leaf stirred. A row of spikes slipped out of the edges, thick as Corian’s leg and sharp enough to cleave a horse in two. Corian barely cleared them. The voidwalker was not so lucky. His momentum carried him right into the center of the carnivorous plant, which enveloped him with a twist of blue-veined leaf. Steam issued from the folds near the plant’s edges as it fed.

More pods of the courser’s nap were coming to life, enlivened by the voidwalker’s screams. Corian avoided the leaves wherever they stirred. He climbed and lunged and dived through the vines, soon pulling himself to the edge of the knotted forest. Pure torrent lay before him, an endless landscape of chaotic rock. There was no clear flow in any direction, the individual boulders in the skyscape crashed into each other in a hundred shattering impacts. I’ll leap blind and pray that my sheath holds.

Another voidwalker tore himself out of the vines a few spans away. Peace, but look at the size of him! The voidwalker’s armor looked as chewed up as the oldest rocks of the torrent, endless dents and scratches plastered the black surface.

“I’ve enjoyed hunting you, degenerate.”

Another courser’s leaf reared up behind the voidwalker as he lumbered toward Corian. The leaf lunged and took the voidwalker up, curling round and round as the folds of leaf tightened. Corian allowed himself a moment of elation, but it was short lived. A pale hand appeared on the side of the courser’s nap, and bright green fluid poured out. The leaf whipped back and forth, emitting a piercing shriek as the voidwalker pulled it apart piece by piece from the inside. Corian needed to see no more. He leaped, and prayed the torrent would show him mercy.

 Visit author's Davaun Sanders blogsite here

Friday, April 25, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today's feature author is Milton Davis

Griots: Sisters of the Spear Description

Griots: Sisters of the Spear picks up where the ground breaking Griots Anthology leaves off. Charles R. Saunders and Milton J. Davis present seventeen original and exciting Sword and Soul tales focusing on black women. Just as the Griots Anthology broke ground as the first Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots: Sisters of the Spear pays homage to the spirit, bravery and compassion of women of color.  Seventeen authors and eight artists combine their skills to tell stories of bravery, love, danger and hope. The griots have returned to sing new songs, and what wonderful songs they are!

Excerpt for Griots: Sisters of the Spear


By Charles R. Saunders

The woman in Andrea Rushing’s evocative painting that graces the cover of Griots: Sisters of the Spear symbolizes the essence of the anthology. Although the painting is not a direct depiction of any of the characters in the stories, the spirit of this woman imbues all of them. She is a teller of truth, and a slayer of stereotypes.

As is the case with black men, black women have been subjected to invidious stereotyping for centuries in real life and fiction alike. For the most part, these characterizations have ranged from the condescending to the downright hostile – from the faithful “Mammy” of Gone with the Wind to the scornful “Sapphire” of Amos ‘n’ Andy to the degraded “Ho” made infamous in all-too-many rap-music lyrics. The fantasy-fiction genre is no exception. Until recently, black women have been either non-existent, or portrayed in ways that made absence the preferable alternative.

Real life defies the stereotypes. Throughout history, there has been no dearth of strong and courageous black women who have stood alongside – and sometimes in front of – their men and children during the course of a 500-year-long struggle against oppression in Africa, and the places in the rest of the world to which Africans were taken against their will to fuel economies with their forced labor.

A few examples: The Candace, or queen, of Kush defied the legions of ancient Rome. Queen Nzinga of Ndongo in central Africa fought to protect her people from the depredations of European slavers. Harriet Tubman risked her life to lead slaves to freedom in the years before the U.S. Civil War. Fannie Lou Hamer endured vicious physical abuse from the authorities in her non-violent quest to win basic civil rights for black Americans. Women such as these – and many more like them – stand as living contradictions to the misrepresentations that persist to this day.

So do the women in Sisters of the Spear. When Milton Davis came up with the idea of a woman-themed sequel to our first anthology, Griots, I co-signed immediately. Like Griots, Sisters of the Spear presents an opportunity to bring more black representation to a genre that’s still in need of more color. Thanks to Griots, we knew there were more than a few writers and artists of all racial persuasions who would embrace our theme of powerful black womanhood and create stories and illustrations that would be excellent by any standard.

Our expectations have been more than fulfilled. Our modern-day griots came through with – not to belabor the point – flying colors. The fictional warrior-women and sorceresses you will meet in the following pages can hold their own and then some against the barbarians and power-mad monarchs and magic-users of both genders who swing swords and cast spells in the mostly European-derived settings of modern fantasy and sword-and-sorcery. The reach of sword-and soul has expanded greatly with Sisters of the Spear.

It’s time now to allow the woman on the cover serve as your guide through the anthology. The light she carries will illuminate the truth that is always inherent in the best of fiction. And her spear will slay the stereotypes.

Purchase copies of Griot: Sisters of the Spear: