New YouTube Vid: On the Pokédex

Hello, all!

I know it’s been a long time. I am definitely going to work on that. But I’m back with a new blog post and and new YouTube video!

This short video is my second ever Pokémon theory! (I’m saving the first, maybe for a later date…) In this video, I explore the Pokédex (an encyclopaedia of information about Pokémon, and the genre it is written in. I like this idea because it connects to my love writing. Please have a watch, like, share, and subscribe!

For my next videos, I’m thinking about focusing on Avatar: The Last Airbender, blue-alien Avatar, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Stay tuned!

~Ken


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Your Whole History: A Review of The Deep

the-deep-24I happened upon Rivers Solomon‘s  novella The Deep a few months ago and instantly felt drawn to it. The cover features a mermaid and, I have a thing for the water and aquatic creatures of myth and legend.

The Deep tells the story of the wajinru, aquatic descendants of enslaved African woman who were tossed from ships during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Transformed by a mysterious force into something new, these wajinru have constructed civilisations deep in the ocean, far from their ancestral homes. In fact, they are so intent on keeping their past behind them that they have sealed away their History into a single wajinru. This so-called history bears the weight of the wajinru’s human ancestry and their brutal beginning. Tormented by this History, Yetu, the current historian, leaves her people behind. But, try as she might, she can never truly be free from her history, nor its consequences.

The concept of an aquatic people descended from the enslaved is some of the most unique worldbuilding I have ever seen. It is simple, yet powerful. Although I first met the idea of a single person holding the history of a society in the 2012 film The Giver, Solomon’s story didn’t feel like a rehash of that concept.

Yetu’s struggle is understandable. To feel alone in bearing the burden of the past amidst a people who only care to carry that burden when it is convenient to them is a terrible weight to carry. Solomon’s thesis statement, as it were can be summarized in a quotation from a character: “But your whole history. Your ancestry. That’s who you are.”

This message touched me because of my own personal journey to discover my ancestral roots. As far as I know, most of my ancestry hails from West Africa. But who were they? What did they believe? What, if anything do I retain from them?

Like the wajinru, who keep living despite not knowing where they came from, my fellow Jamaicans live on without knowing where we came from. Many (most?) of us aren’t even aware that the famous folklore figure Anansi is an Akan deity repackaged as a simple trickster. People protest our national language (Patwa/Jamaican Creole) being made our official language along side English, unaware that they are playing right into the hands of our racist colonial overlords, who saw us as uncivilized. In fact, the colonial power saw English as “the most important agent of civilization for the coloured population of the colonies.” (Language Education Policy, pg. 9)

Yetu’s struggle is the struggle of the African diaspora: The tug-of-war between the present and the past. And so, The Deep is a commentary of this post-colonial experience masterfully packaged in a Afrofantasy setting. I highly recommend it.

My biggest conlang gig so far!

Last month, when I was home sick with the flu, I got my first big constructed language (conlang) gig. Jim Wilbourne, creator of the Continua series, contacted me to create some basic language information for his world.

It was fun and beyond rewarding. Jim was a pleasure to work with, and it was a perfect opportunity to stretch my linguistic and creative muscles. Jim was even kind enough to leave a review:

From the beginning, he was quick to respond and walked me through the process of creating the perfect conlang for each of my cultures. I don’t think I could have created such a beautiful, lived in, and diverse world for my epic fantasy series without his help.

I’m glad to have been able to make a mark on the world of Continua. If you, like me, are a fan of fantasy realms, please check out Jim’s work. He has two free short stories for you to whet your appetite for his bigger projects!

If you are interested in my conlang services, please contact me, and let’s create something great together.


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A New Video!

Greetings, everyone! This is just a short post to let you know that I uploaded a new YouTube video! This one is sort of a sequel, you might say, to my previous post, The Dominion of Anansi: Why Does Storytelling Persist?

Please watch. And if you enjoy it, please consider giving it a Like and subscribing to my channel. I plan to share analyses of films, series, and books and games, as well as information about the writing process.

See you there!

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Review: Shuri

Shuri 1 Shuri 2 Shuri 3 Shuri 4 Shuri 5
Shuri 6 Shuri 7 Shuri 8 Shuri 9 Shuri 10

I’m not really into comic books. As a child, I sometimes got my hands on a few scattered issues of some of my older cousin’s favourite comic series. However, I was never given the opportunity to keep up with them, so I guess I just didn’t try. As such, I knew next to nothing about Black Panther before the 2018 film. That’s why I probably would not have decided to pick up Shuri if not for the fact that Nnedi Okorafor, an Africanfuturism author that I’ve come to greatly respect, is the pen behind it.

With as few spoilers as I can, I’ll share my thoughts on these this ten-issue series.

Shuri
Shuri as seen on the cover if Shuri #1, making the signature “Wakanda forever” solute

Plot:
T’Challa, the Black Panther, king of Wakanda, is missing, lost in a mission to outer space. In his absence, his sister, Princess Shuri has big shoes to fill. While coming to terms with her brother’s absence, she must deal with the pressure to take up the mantle of Black Panther, and to save Wakanda and the world from dangers that, in some ways, are her own doing.

Dr Nnedi Okorafor did a good job with the material given to her. Apart from a two-issue reprieve, she wrote all issues of Shuri. Okorafor has always had a vested interest in African representation, which is as clear in this story as the others I’ve read from her. With African characters from outside of Wakanda entering the story and impacting Shuri’s internal conflict, I would say Okorafor has succeeded. I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I was to see Ororo Munroe (AKA Storm) with her hair braided instead of the wearing the flowing, European-esque hairstyle she is usually given!

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Storm taking to the sky with her braids floating in the wind, from Shuri #2 (Image: Marvel)

I would be remiss, of course, to ignore the contribution of Vita Ayala to this series. While Okorafor’s focus has been Africa, Ayala brought Shuri to Brooklyn, New York, allowing us to see another Marvel character that I have never seen in comics, Miles Morales, Spider-Man. The change in author for issues 6 and 7 were not at all jarring, and helped propel Shuri’s story forward admirably.

Shuri is about a young woman’s struggle to find her identity in the midst of adversity. Though she has her own unique powers, Shuri has always been comfortable as the technological mind behind the Black Panther. Now, she has not only lost her brother, but her powers as well. Shuri is not T’Challa, and she knows it. She uses her intellect and compassion in ways that make her a very different character from her brother, even while others try to make her into a copy-pasted Black Panther. Shuri is Shuri, and apologetically so, even as she takes the time to figure out how to be Shuri amidst outside pressures.

The most impactful aspect of this story to me, though, was how African it was. As a member of the African diaspora, I lament at the lack of decidedly Black/African representation in sci-fi and fantasy. Seeing characters attempting inter-African unification, as well as a visual unification of Afrocentric clothing, mysticism, and modern technology made this a favourite comic experience.

I am glad I decided to read Shuri.


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