Orisha, Airships, and Djinn: Announcing a Pair of Steampunk Novellas by P. Djèlí Clark

P. Djèlí Clark has already delighted Tor.com readers with tales of an otherworldly Cairo in “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” and Tor.com Publishing is thrilled to announce that it will be publishing not one but two novellas from him: The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

In The Black God’s Drums, an alternate New Orleans is caught in the tangle of the American Civil War. A wall-scaling thief yearns to escape the streets for the air onboard the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls the Black God’s Drums, but soon the whole crew is pulled into a perilous mission to save the city.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.

From acquiring editor Diana Pho:

“P. Djèlí Clark is an incredible up-and-coming voice in the SFF world. He first caught my attention with his insightful blog posts about science fiction, fantasy, history, and POC in media. When he started getting his short fiction published, I asked him to submit a piece to me, which ended up being “A Dead Djinn in Cairo.” Now, with The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015, I look forward to working with him as he envisions more exciting, magical worlds.”

Born in New York and raised mostly in Houston, Texas, Phenderson Djèlí Clark spent the formative years of his life in the homeland of his parents, Trinidad and Tobago. Inspired by elements as divergent as the didactic stories of Rod Serling, the fantasy world of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the dystopian future of Octavia Butler, his writing has appeared in numerous online venues and print anthologies. He had this to say about the sale:

“Steampunk is de facto alternate history: where the known course of human events is drastically altered by the rise of some technology either little explored or rendered obsolete. So, I thought, why not spice things up with a touch of the supernatural? And along the way, maybe I could tell diverse, adventurous fiction that radically rewrites the social and power dynamics of our world. A 1912 Cairo filled with alchemy and djinn and a nineteenth-century New Orleans of orisha and airships seemed some great places to start. I’m delighted that Tor.com is giving me the chance to share that vision with readers.”

When not writing speculative fiction, P. Djèlí Clark is a professor of history who focuses on issues of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. He currently resides in a small castle in Hartford, CT with his wife Danielle and a rambunctious Boston Terrier named Beres. He ruminates on issues of diversity in speculative fiction at his blog The Disgruntled Haradrim and spends far too much time on Twitter as @pdjeliclark.

Photo courtesy of author

The Black God’s Drums will be released in trade paperback and ebook formats from Tor.com Publishing in Summer 2018, and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 will follow in Winter 2019.


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