I’m very proud to announce that my short story, “The Beacon and the Coward” is up at Apex Magazine: http://www.apex-magazine.com/the-beacon-and-the-coward/
This is a post-Civil War steampunk story loosely based on the first all-Black lifesaving station on Pea Island in the Carolinas, and of their most famous rescue. I have so much respect for these men of the Revenue Cutter Service (now the United States Coast Guard) and for what they accomplished. The original story is one of those tales where writers would have a difficult time retelling it because it was so amazing, no one would believe it. Truth IS stranger (and in this case, I think better) than fiction.Â Read the fiction; read the ACTUAL history below.
Captain Richard Etheridge became the first African-American to command a Life-Saving station when the Service appointed him as the keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station in North Carolina in 1880. The Revenue Cutter Service officer who recommended his appointment, First Lieutenant Charles F. Shoemaker, noted that Etheridge was “one of the best surfmen on this part of the coast of North Carolina.” Soon after Etheridge’s appointment, the station burned down. Determined to execute his duties with expert commitment, Etheridge supervised the construction of a new station on the original site. He also developed rigorous lifesaving drills that enabled his crew to tackle all lifesaving tasks. His station earned the reputation of “one of the tautest on the Carolina Coast,” with its keeper well-known as one of the most courageous and ingenious lifesavers in the Service.
On 11 October 1896, Etheridge’s rigorous training drills proved to be invaluable. The three-masted schooner, the E.S. Newman, was caught in a terrifying storm.Â En route from Providence, Rhode Island to Norfolk, Virginia, the vessel was blown 100 miles south off course and came ashore on the beach two miles south of the Pea Island station.Â The storm was so severe that Etheridge had suspended normal beach patrols that day.Â But the alert eyes of surfman Theodore Meekins saw the first distress flare and he immediately notified Etheridge.Â Etheridge gathered his crew and launched the surfboat.Â Battling the strong tide and sweeping currents, the dedicated lifesavers struggled to make their way to a point opposite the schooner, only to find there was no dry land.Â The daring, quick-witted Etheridge tied two of his strongest surfmen together and connected them to shore by a long line. They fought their way through the roaring breakers and finally reached the schooner.Â The seemingly inexhaustible Pea Island crewmembers journeyed through the perilous waters ten times [emphasis added]Â and rescued the entire crew of the E.S. Newman.Â For this rescue the crew, including Etheridge, were recently awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal by the Coast Guard.
And as an additionalÂ snippet of information:
Ellen Gardiner, wife of Newman Captain, Sylvester Gardiner, wrote in her journal years later: â€œI was tied to the mainmast of the ship with our three-year old son. I was singing to young Thomas, as I wanted the last thing for him to hear was his mother’s voice as we prepared to meet our creator, when from the tumultuous surf came the hand of salvation â€“ the hand of a black man, Theodore Meekins.â€
Over the last few months I’ve been rather disappointed in a variety of non-responses from my alma mater’s leadership in addressing a wide variety of -isms and the increasinglyÂ hostile climate for minorities on campus. The fact it has erupted into protests from a sizable number students and has what looks like strong faculty and staff support says a lot about the current environment. The recent race-related events are just the tipping point of what has been a longtime problem (and one I am sure exists on other university campuses as well). As a concerned alum, the best I can do is make my displeasure known.
I’ve never been to PhilCon before! I’m so excited to make this trip and even more excited for the panels. Below is my schedule. Don’t they sound awesome? I’m also looking forward to meeting several people.Â I know of them mostly through online activities (mostly Twitter) and so it’ll be great to connect in person!
|Saturday 12:00 pm: BEYOND LONDON’S GASLAMPSÂ Plaza 3
Panelists: Hakira D’Almah (M), Robert C Roman, Day Al-Mohamed, T. Patrick Snyder, Savan Gupta, Siobhan CarrollPlenty has been written- and drawn, and costumed- concerning the concept of an alternate England where steam instead of electricity powers the world’s technological advances. But what about the rest
of the world? What would the shop of a Japanese gearsmith have looked like? What about the clothing of an airship crew from Mumbai? Or the design of the Panama Canal?
|Saturday 1:00 pm: WOMEN IN COMICS Plaza 6
Panelists: Day Al-Mohamed (M), Muriel Hykes, Scheherazade JacksonWomen write, draw, and buy comics…and they’ve been doing it just as long as men have. But as of 2014, women make up the lion’s share (53%) of comic-buyers, and hold more company positions than ever. What was a trend has now become a transition period in the industry. And with a slew of new writers like Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells), G. Willow Wilson (A-Force), Ming Doyle (Constantine),
Alisa Kwitney (Mystic U), Genevieve Valentine (Catwoman), artists like Marguerite Sauvage, (DC Bombshells, Wonder Woman) Stacey Lee (Silk), Babs Tarr (Batgirl), Sara Pichelli (Spider-Man), Annie Wu (Black Canary),Â and Marvel editor Dana Amanat’s promotion to Director of Content and Character Development, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. What impact has this had on fandom?
|Saturday 3:00 pm: READING Executive Suite 623|
|Saturday 6:00 pm: SCIENCE FICTION AND THEORIES OF HISTORY Plaza 2
Panelists: Siobhan Carroll (M), Christopher Weuve, Day Al-Mohamed, Michael F. Flynn, John Grant, Robert FenelonSF stories such as Dune or the Foundation series frequently deal with long stretches of time and the historical process itself. Some of them are based on specific theories such as those of Spengler,
Marx or others. How does this influence the way we think and write about the future?
|Sunday 10:00 am: CYBERPUNK TODAY Plaza 3
Panelists: Fran Wilde (M), Day Al-Mohamed, Vikki Ciaffone, Chris Fuller, Robert C RomanWe live in a world of full of technology, mega-corporations and paranoia. The Cyberpunk future has become reality. Is it possible to write Cyberpunk that is not real life fiction?