Afro Gamers Book Club: The Scythe.
(AfroGamers.com) Balogun Ojetade is one of my favorite authors. He and Milton J. Davis form a literary team that has created and pioneered several Black sci-fi and fantasy genres. They’ve pushed sword and soul and pioneered steamfunk, dieselfunk,and Rococoa. Ojetade has also done books in fight fiction and martial arts non-fiction. His background in Afrikan martial arts are depicted in the fight scenes of his novels–particularly The Scythe.
A Dieselfunk Landmark
Before we move forward, dieselfunk, in the shortest sense, is dieselpunk with a Black perspective. Dieselpunk itself is sci-fi or fantasy based on the diesel age between the 1920s up into the 1950s. The dieselpunk element can be seen as mostly aesthetic for setting-sake but sometimes social issues of that period in history are addressed. I’d say dieselfunk handles social issues better since it is focused on Black and brown characters in a dieselpunk setting.
Definite settings are the 3D-era titles in the Fallout franchise and Batman: The Animated Series’ more sci-fi oriented stories. Speaking of Batman, this brings us back to The Scythe. The book is steeped in dieselfunk but is definitely a superhero book as well as a pulp novel.
It’s fast-paced, the history and culture is obviously researched, the fight scenes are excellent, and when folklore is explored and woven into the origin of The Scythe’s power? Flawless. This would’ve made a great comic book or the jump off point for MVmedia to get into comics.
Oh and There’s Vampires!
So, Dr. A.C. Jackson originally tries to settle in Tulsa during the early 1920s. He’s got a practice on Greenwood and its bustling–then the Tulsa Riot happens. His business along with many others are destroyed. Jackson’s neighbors, friends, and clients are killed in the carnage. The good doctor is near death when a spirit from another realm makes a deal with him. Armed with powers beyond human comprehension, Dr. Jackson goes about taking revenge on everyone involved.
Several years later, he settles in Atlanta and establishes a new practice under a different name. His existence in Atlanta results in him running afoul of the Klan which has ties to vampirism in the city. In addition to this, there are diesel-power death machines, card slinging assassins, and vampires.
The Scythe isn’t alone in his battle–or is he? As the book goes on, all of the conspiracy, African mysticism, and occult vibes blend together is this lore stew.
You have a good amount of lore based on African folklore here, but you also have very strong fight scenes. The action is on par with Steven Barnes’ StreetLethal–also worth checking out. When you add this with the aforementioned fast pace of The Scythe, it’s a sprinty read. You would think you’ll read this for awhile but Balogun Ojetade moves the story along. Sure, he explains a lot of background, he has a strength for world building. That said, he makes sure the dial is at 10 on adventure.
So, should you give it a read? I’d say if you’re looking for some new sci-fi that isn’t bogged down with explaining things in great deal, try The Scythe. It’s a good break from hard sci-fi and you might explore a new genre if you’re not familiar with the many corners of Black SFF.
The only con to this book is that a sequel hasn’t been dropped yet. It needs a sequel or to spin off into a larger universe. Ojetade and Davis have been busy with other novels and the new tabletop game they released.
Who knows, maybe there will be a book two for The Scythe.
RATING:8 out of 10 (Highly Recommended)
Purchase Book over at Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Scythe-Balogun-Ojetade-ebook/dp/B00I6QQNAG.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.