Saturday, December 31, 2005
"...all mi sayin, all mi sayin, is yu don' introduce an den SOLVE di main charAKter's mos'important CRISis in di damn PILot, an expec fi geneREETE an entire SERIAL's wort' of epiSODES afta dat. DAT's why Dyeep Speece Nine is raas..."
We chatted up Minister Faust, author of The Coyote KIngs of the Space Age Bachelor Pad (Ballantine Books, 2004) over the phone last summer after his appearance at DreamHaven Books and Diversicon here in Erotic City. He and Sherri R. Thomas, editor of the anthology Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (Aspect, 2004) were featured guests at Diversicon 13, a gathering of creators and fans of science fiction from August 19-21 at the Holiday Inn at the International Airport/Mall of America (cold shiver). For whatever reason, even though their DreamHaven reading and book signing was on my calender for weeks, my wires got crossed and I trudged out to the MOA (cold shiver) for the second time in ten years by light rail when I should have been in my own hood at DreamHaven. Hence the phone interview.
(Note: if you think the MOA is annoying when you're shopping, try bidding time there when you're not. The bloodless sensation you feel is similar to driving through Nebraska).
Minister Faust hails from Edmonton, Alberta -- Canada's northern most city by population -- and credits his mother for providing his first artistic sparks. He took two degrees from the University of Alberta -- English and education -- and took some creative writing as well, where he said the courses were poorly taught.
Coyote Kings is his first pubished work and tells the fantastic tale of Hamza and Yehat -- the Coyote Kings and working-class best friends: one is a disgruntled dishwasher (what dishwasher isn't?) and the other a video store clerk. One day they meet beautiful and mysterious Sherem in Edmonton, who propels them into a world parrellel to those that exist in the plethora of comics and science fiction the two men gorge themselves on and quote prodigously. Faust's words are italicized.
My mother, an Alberta farm girl, always motivated me to read sci fi as a kid: Star Trek and writing and writing and reading and acting...My dad was a member of the Kenya Land and Reform Party (Mau Mau) like most Pan Africanists.
ON ART and POLITICS:
Art and politics? there's no separation. Politics is about the power groups use to get what they want; art is our attempt to use aesthetics to describe reality and our future. One is more fun, though politics can be fun, and some art can be dreary.
Why are you as an artist exempt from making the world better? We don't get to stand down on those particular issues affecting community.
Langston Hughes said that the decision to create non-political art is itself a political decision. If you are writing about flowers, the system probably benefits you; if you are writing about oppression, you're probably having a hard time.
BLACK MOVIES, WHITE MOVIES
Remeber House Party, or the Spike Lee revolution? Why isn't anyone doing anything like that now? THough it was comedy, House Party looked at the routine stops of African American males in North America by the police -- played for laughs, but portrayed as a fact of life.
In white movies race doesn't exist. In our art, whether it's referenced directly or indirectly, all we have to do is reference ourselves.
INTERVIEWING PUBLIC ENEMY
Flava Flav's eyes looked like pickeled cherries when I interviewed PE a few years ago. Chuck was great, but Flav?...
RACISM LA CANADA/RACISM DE USA
In the US, one thing that really shocked me -- cuz Canadiens are reserved -- but all the time, white people start conversations with me...but I find it interesting that Americans are given this astonishing jingoistic racism from very young, but even with that, [white] Americans would just talk to me. I'm not saying they acted like they wanted me to date their daughters or give me a job, but even with all the racial propaganda it's not a perfect poison; I've known people that were straight up evil.
Growing up in Canada can be very lonely, alienating when you look around and nobody looks like you. Textbooks? Your face isn't even there; TV? Your face isn't there, and if it is, it's because the criminal looks like you. But it's the only climate I've ever lived in. One of the big differences between Canada and the US is the way any strength can become a weakness. I would have loved it if more Africans were here. Most of us are Carribean, Tanzanian, Kenyan: I was raised Catholic and went to school other than my siblings.
Most whites think that racism consists of calling someone 'nigger." It's not the word, it's the power system behind it. For jobs, our parents didn't get the call, our hand isn't recognized when it's raised in class, denied, and there is an enormous amount of information on racial profiling, especially Toronto.
It's the other ways our lives are going to be curtailed, maybe not jail or senseless killing at the hands of the police or mob violence, it's the institutional racism, it's absolutely institutional -- it doesn't require a con
RECENT AMERICAN PRESIDENTS
It scares me now that you have an [twice] unelected president, but the one before that oversaw eight years of sanctions against Iraq that killed a million people. One thing that makes me sad is African Americans coming up with Clinton being the first "Black" president. It's one thing if a comedian says it, here's a guy who bombed Sudan, and act of international terror against an African country, and we're supposed to look at this as a Black president?
ON WRITING CKOTSBP
Coyote Kings was written as a screenplay when I was 25. I've written five novels, one is published, two since CKOTSBP.
In my future work I plan to utilize the experiences of the Pan-African Diaspora; stories of (Kwame) Nkrumah, Lumumba and Mandela -- I have a novel planned about a sci-fi version of the Congo War.
WHAT'S THE BEST OF CONTEMPORARY SCI FI?
Farscape (now cancelled), especially the second and third seasons. Until then, most sci fi shows were one Star Trek afte another. The new Battlestar Galactica picks up where Farscape left off -- West Wing in Space. But BG now is good! Remember the brother Col. Ty in the first one? Ty was one of those genteel Blacks; now he's a horrible, battle-grizzled alcoholic.
CONTACT MINSTER FAUST AT firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rashard Zanders conducted this interview and accepts reader responses at email@example.com.