I’m currently writing historical fantasy/steampunk fiction set in ancient Egypt. I’ve been researching in this era for decades, and over time I’ve come to understand that Black women were at the center of everything in Egypt before the Greeks and Romans came. So now I’m creating fiction designed to showcase and celebrate that.
In the Pyramids & Punk short stories and novels I created an ancient culture that is matriarchal as well as matrilineal because I’m tired of narrow, inaccurate depictions of gender roles in historical fiction. This culture includes widespread acceptance of multiple sexualities and roles for people of multiple genders because I’m tired of QUILTBAG identities being erased from history. I’m also depicting dynastic Egypt as unmistakably and unequivocally African because I’m tired of the media, racist academics, and the commenters on my blog whitewashing it.
I’m calling my series AfroRetroFuturist, a term coined by Nisi Shawl. She defines it as a blend of Afrofuturism – a movement focused on African contributions to, perspectives on, and presence in the future – and Retrofuturism – a re-visioning of the past including elements of its future and sometimes elements of our own future as well.
I’m incorporating Afrofuturist elements because I want to see my people depicted as technological and cultural innovators in the past, present, and future. I’m representing Egypt in this era as an African country populated by Black people with a culture connected to and influenced by other nearby African cultures. This is historically accurate – I can back it up with reams of research – but not a depiction you’ll find in the majority of media set in ancient Egypt, speculative or not.
The Retrofuturist elements center around house-sized copper scarab beetles that run on steam generated by the sun. I’m using their development as a framework to explore the cultural, social, and spiritual movements that follow in the wake of the upheaval, ethnic conflict, and technical innovation in dynastic Egypt.
With this series I’m exploring what a matrifocal, technological, and unquestionably African Egypt could look like with characters that exist beyond binary sexualities and beyond binary genders whose problems don’t arise from those identities. And I’m doing it with queer Black women as my protagonists.
I’m in the early stages of this project with just a few short pieces available to read as I work on the first novel in the series. If you want to help shepherd these works into existence, you can become my patron either via Patreon or yearly subscription. Please visit my Support page for details.