I can’t remember exactly when Milton Davis first mentioned putting together a cyberfunk anthology, but I knew I had to submit a story. Cyberpunk is my first literary love, a relationship that began with William Gibson’s Neuromancer.
It didn’t start as an easy relationship. I first picked up Gibson’s novel in high school, and it took me three tries to read it (the same amount of tries it took me to get through Samuel Delany’s Dahlgren). I don’t remember why Neuromancer was such a difficult book for me those first two times. I suppose I wasn’t ready for it.
But once I got past my ‘What the hell is Wintermute?’ confusion, I couldn’t get enough of Gibson. I bought everything he had out at the time. I wrote like him. I submitted stories with sim-stim girls in them. I got rejection letters (which I still have) that said those stories with sim-stim girls were a poor imitation of Gibson. It’s true. They were.
But then, as the years went on, I settled down into my writing. I developed a narrative voice and style that’s very much my own. I won’t lie; I still have a soft spot for Gibson, but my cyberpunk stories no longer have sim-stim girls. These days, they have Big Mama Green putting her foot in some collard greens. No editor in his or her right mind would associate collard greens with William Gibson.
Unless they edit cyberfunk.
Cyberfunk, as defined by Balogun Ojetade, is “…a genre of Speculative Fiction centered on the transformative effects of advanced science, information technology, computers and networks (“cyber”) coupled with a breakdown or radical change in the social order. Unlike Cyberpunk, however, Cyberfunk is expressed through an Afrikan / Black lens (“funk”).”
That Afrikan/Black lens is crucial to the genre. It’s what encourages the “punk” suffix to be exchanged for the “funk” suffix.
Ten years ago, I fell in love with Afrofuturism. I’d just read Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring for the first time and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower for the second time. I wanted to write like Hopkinson and Butler. I wanted to put my Black experience and my city—specifically, the South Side of Chicago—into my stories.
So I did, which is why there’s a crockpot full of collard greens in my cyberfunk story, “Collard Greens, Hummingbirds and Spidersilk”, for The City anthology.
It might sound odd having collard greens in a cyberfunk anthology, but if you’ve cooked collard greens before, especially Southern-style with ham hocks, you know some funk is going down in the kitchen. The same thing can be said of the cyberfunk anthology.
Nineteen different writers, including me, have brought the funk infused with some cyber flavor. Digable Planets once said: “funk cannot be measured.” And it can’t. But it can be appreciated. It can be enjoyed.
And we for damn sure had fun bringing it to you.
Back cover blurb:
The City. No one knows how it began or when it will end. No one knows how we came to be here: 20 million souls, 1500 different species all crammed together in plascrete and biosteel. No one’s been in or out of the city in 20 centuries. Some have their theories why, some don’t care. But no matter who you are, or what you are, you have a story, don’t you? The trick is finding someone that cares to listen…
Jeff Carroll, Gerald Coleman, Milton Davis, Ray Dean, Malon Edwards, Ashtyn Foster, Otis Galloway, Keith Gaston, Chanel Harry, Natiq Jalil, Valjeanne Jeffers, Alan Jones, Brandee Laird, Kai Leakes, B. Sharise Moore, Howard Night, Balogun Ojetade, Ced Pharoah, and K. Ceres Wright
Cover and interior art: