Merced County Times Newspaper
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Upcoming Virtual ‘Afrofuturism’ Day Camp designed for Sci-Fi fans, young adults 

Online event set for this Saturday, Aug. 29!

 

‘Tell your story in your voice. Develop you story. Share your story.
Make your story understandable to other people.’

Dr. Glen Parris,
author of Dragon’s Heir.

 

Book Tavern — an independent bookstore in Augusta, Georgia — and the Merced Multicultural Arts Center in Merced, will be presenting a Virtual Sci-Fi Afrofuturism Day Camp for young people to explore possibilities, enlightenment, empowerment and inspiration within the Science Fiction genre.

The event will be hosted by Glenn Parris, the author of Dragon’s Heir: The Archeologist’s Tale, and one of a growing number of noted black science fiction novelists in this country and beyond.

“The main thrust in what I do is for young people to find their voice,” Parris told the County Times in a telephone interview from Atlanta, Georgia. “There’s a common thread in almost all human storytelling from the beginning of time until now. Good storytellers, good books, good movies, good radio shows back in the day found a way to speak to different groups. There is primary target, a secondary target and a tertiary target. My goal is to inspire people who don’t usually have a voice in telling these kinds of stories — that may in some cases cost a lot of money to produce — to share their stories. Their stores have value. And they are not just of value to, let’s say, the Latinx community, the African American community, or the Native American community. They are of value to our country as a whole, and the world at large. … There are challenges that everybody has culturally, getting to know themselves. When someone else defines your culture, you don’t fit into their culture anymore. That is one of the things I would like to express to young people. Tell your story in your voice. Develop you story. Share your story. Make your story understandable to other people.”

The special Virtual Sci-Fi Afrofuturism Day Camp will be held on Saturday, Aug. 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Please register in advance for the Day Camp by copying the link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcof-qqrDsrGd13ihawRL3BZ0P7bNIE5MI9

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the day camp.

Author Dr. Glenn Parris

 

Afrofuturism is basically science fiction as seen through an African American lens. It’s term first coined in the early 1990s; however, it has been a cultural aesthetic and philosophy of science that has been around for generations. In recent years, a string of new talent in the field, along with the success of mainstream hits like the blockbuster movie Black Panther, has revitalized interest in Afrofuturism.

Says Parris, “The lessons of the Black Panther … were well received in China, Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Europe and South America. … The reason behind that was that viewers were seeing Africans and African Americans in a different light. The reason it was huge within the African American community was it dealt with the elephant in the room that has been there for hundreds of years. When African slaves were taken from the continent hundreds of years ago they never saw their families again, and now in the 21st century, even though we look the same, we lost the culture.”

Parris says his writing and the topics to be discussed in the upcoming day camp will deal with enlightenment and different perspectives while maintaining a broad appeal for audiences off all ages and backgrounds.

“I’m in my 60s,” he said. “I’m not a kid anymore. But I remember as a young adult reading science fiction, and my interest was the intrigue, the politics, the relationships — and yes, the space ships and the technology was interesting, if you rolled it all into the story. I think science fiction lovers like myself age well — meaning that if you are in your 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s, the kind of story that I still love to read is kinda the story that I wrote. I take a lesson from the great animated movies … that relate to people on multiple levels. You can take kids to see it and they enjoy the colors and the action, and then there’s this subtle, satirical humor that only an adult is going to get, and that is sprinkled within. In my writing, I have some allegory that is not always so comfortable to reflect on or deal with but when you start to look at it, it’s staring you in the face a little bit. A lot of my characters are very human in their thinking, values, their bias. Some of the decisions that they make, when we look at these things, you might think ‘Gee, how horrible,’ but then you think: ‘Didn’t we do that?’ It forces you to look into a mirror — a dark warped mirror. You have to recognize what you see in the mirror.”

 

Dragon’s Heir — The Novel

Science has taught us that the dinosaurs died in a sudden mass extinction.

However in Dragon’s Heir: The Archeologist’s Tale, author Parris compels readers to imagine that science had it wrong — that the giant reptilians simply evacuated when the going got rough, and a veritable Noah’s Ark carried them to their new home.

With engaging characters, an original premise and compelling themes of multiculturalism and politics, Dragon’s Heir features a cast of advanced, non-mammalian people known as the Efilu, who once lived on Earth during the age of the dinosaurs. Faced with a worldwide catastrophe of their own doing, the Efilu gathered together the populations of every intelligent species on the planet and evacuated, leaving behind a small contingency of a single species — known as The Keepers and their leader Dragon — to restore their dying world.

Some 65 million years later, an expedition of Efilus return to search for a cure to a plague in their new home. But they find a world overrun by mammals, and Dragon’s coven of Keepers is nowhere to be found.

“This story represents allegory viewing Humanity in a dark mirror,” Parris says. “How does a society treat the least of its kind when they have absolute power over them? If they need the vulnerable population, the powerful will make certain types of choices, if they DON’T need them, the choices becomes much different. In any event, the weaker social faction eventually becomes disposable. This story grabs some of our idealized political and social positions and rides them to the extreme conclusions. The relatable characters only magnify how easy it is to ignore the injustice if one can rationalize dehumanizing an exploited group.”

A board-certified rheumatologist, author Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the Northeast Atlanta suburbs for more than 30 years. He’s been writing for nearly that long. Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow and fell in love with Southern charm and Carla, his wife of 27 years. He now writes cross-genre books in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin, a Jack Wheaton medical mystery, was his debut novel.

To hear an excerpt from the book, please visit https://novelwritingfestival.com/2018/08/07/dragons-heir-novel-excerpt-vit-nas-escape-by-glenn-parris/.

For more information on the Aug. 29 Sci-Fi Afrofuturism Day Camp, please contact Kim McMillon at [email protected].

 

Q & A with Glenn Parris, author of Dragon’s Heir: The Archeologist’s Tale

 

The dinosaurs didn’t die out, they just left. 

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: I’ll answer that with a series of questions;

Who could have built an advanced civilization preceding all others on Earth?

When might they have existed?

What could drive them away from their beloved home world?

Where would they go?

Why might they come back?

How could this reunion be contrived?

Now answer those 6 questions and you have a traditional science fiction space opera turned on its ear. No nefarious alien invaders, no intrinsic threat and no ominous warnings a la The Day the Earth Stood Still.

 

Q: So, where did they go?

A: They evacuated.

 

Q: How could they have eggs evacuated an entire planet?

A: In a fleet of Noah’s Ark’s to the stars.

 

Q: If they were so advanced, why didn’t they just repair the Earth instead of migrating through the stars to where they finally settled?

A: The Efilu were a huge and enlightened population, entitled to a standard of living impossible to maintain given the state of earth after the KT event.

 

Q: How would you compare Dragon’s Heir to other popular fiction? Who’s the audience?

A: I think about Avatar from the other side of the coin, the search for ancient aliens and I, Robot. Science fiction has an obligation, not to preach, but to teach the persistence of inhumanity when it’s so well camouflaged in our daily lives.

 

Q: What are you trying to convey in this book?

A: This story represents allegory viewing Humanity in a dark mirror. How does a society treat the least of its kind when they have absolute power over them? If they need the vulnerable population, the powerful will make certain types of choice, if they DON’T need them, the choice becomes much different. In any event, the weaker social faction eventually becomes…disposable. This story grabs some of our idealized political and social positions and rides them to the extreme conclusions. The relatable characters only magnify how easy it is to ignore the injustice if one can rationalize dehumanizing an exploited group.

 

Q: Why should we care about these alien/dinosaur characters in your book?

A: In a word, the relationship between, Vit Na and her love interest high Cmdr. Tur. They lead a cast of characters that are more human, for good or bad, than almost any characters you ever see or read about in a book. I can guarantee you, that any reader will see reflections of themselves and important people in their lives clearly portrayed in these characters.

 

Q: A love story, seriously?

A: Why not? And the dragons represent the watchers of both civilizations, conscience of the elite and a subtle balance of power among them all.

 

Q: So what’s up with this golden algae and yellow algae?

A: Glad you asked that question. As Alfred Hitchcock might say, that’s my McGuffin!

 

Q: How long did it take you to write this book?

A: A bit at a time. I write in airports while waiting for flights, on weekends and holidays. All in all, I’ve been working on this story for over 27 years.

 

Q: Seems like I’ve heard of this storyline before.

A: There are some similarities to other science-fiction stories, but every writer puts his or her own twist on a theme.

 

Q: Seems like this would make a great movie, what are your thoughts on adapting this to film?

A: Technology has finally caught up to the level that might do justice to the special effects necessary to capture the characters and sets. I’m looking to adapt Dragon’s Heir to animated or CGI live action film. Then course, there’s always the gaming potential.

 

Q: What’s next?

A: I’m working on the prequel and sequel to Dragon’s Heir. So, I’m actively looking forward to interviewing ornithologists and paleontologists for maximum realism.

 

Q: Where can readers find your book?

A: Of course; Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble’s, Xlibris, and your favorite science fiction bookstores. If they don’t have it on their shelves, they can order it for you in couple days.

 

 

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