You people don’t take me seriously when I tell you that my Twitter is basically just the gibberish that floats through my head during the sitcom written by drunken leprechauns that I call my life. Anyway, a few months back, I make this tweet: “I’m thinking about writing a Steampunk story with all black characters and calling it ‘Pimp My Airship’.”

I forget that editors actually read me. And that they might want to see the story.

Which means I actually had to write it.

It has finally found a home. The August issue of Apex Magazine features my story. You can go read it now. There are two possible scenarios as to how my story found a publication home …

(cue the harp flashback sound …)

I submitted the story to an anthology, but the editor decided that the story was so good that it demanded a bigger market. So that editor called Jason Sizemore and the thought of having a chance to publish me was what spurred him to pull Apex Magazine out of the mothballs to give my story the audience it deserved.

Or …

I found myself looking through the list of pro paying markets, saw that Apex had re-opened, debated whether I wanted to put myself through another round of being Sizemored (the official term for the editorial process he puts stories through when they aren’t quite up to his delicate standards), decided the pay was worth it, and took a leap.

I prefer to be the hero in my story, so I’m choosing to remember the first version. (Okay, the careful observer might note that I’m the hero in both). I probably would get a lot further in this business if I’d quit making fun of editors who publish me …

Anyway, go read the story. I’d love to hear what you think.*

I SUPPOSE I ought to mention who else is in this issue:
Kenny 149″ by Brad Becraft
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster
and even a bit of non-fiction: “Game Fiction: Why It Works (and Why It Doesn’t)” by Monica Valentinelli

Here are a full set of links to buy the new issue:
DriveThruSciFi (ePub) — DriveThruSciFi (PDF)
Amazon (Kindle)
Apex Book Store (Print)

REVIEWS:

The Internet Review of Science Fiction: Alternate history/steampunk. America is part of the Albion Empire and slavery has been abolished but “those of an African bloodline” have been relegated to the drug-pacified undercities, where Sleepy and Knowledge Allah are involved in a plan to liberate their imprisoned brothers, led by an inventive co-conspirator, Deaconess Blues.

Entertaining mix of steampunk and revolutionary rhetoric, evoking the bygone days of the Black Power salute. Recommended

The Fix:

“Pimp My Airship” by Maurice Broaddus is an alternate-reality steampunk piece with an African-American twist. Blacks and other minority groups live as nominally free citizens segregated into “undercities” in a Victorian-era America in which the Civil War never took place. Despite the government’s efforts to control the population through the widespread availability of narcotics, a movement for revolt is rising. And a daring but unlikely trio will provide its spark.

This piece feels a little pulpy for my taste. Despite the gaslights and dirigible, I’ve read or seen this story before many times. Its focus on non-white protagonists is laudable, but I was disappointed in the flatness of its characters: the “loser” protagonist who finds he has more inside than he knew, the self-sacrificing mentor, and the beautiful and brilliant token woman to round out the trio. This piece feels like it should have been longer, or part of a larger work. Perhaps if it were, the longer narrative could provide time for more nuanced character development and a deeper understanding of the social milieu in which the characters find themselves.

*Not really. I’ve already been paid and that’s the only critique that really matters to me.**

**I’d probably get more fans if I’d quit being so openly antagonistic to them …