Dieselpunk: Myth and Metaphor
January 8, 2015 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Black Empire: George Schulyer, Black Radicalism and Dieselpunk "Sometime in the 1930s, a black journalist is kidnapped in Harlem by the charismatic Dr. Henry Belsidius, leader of the Black Internationale—a shadowy organization determined to build a Black Empire and overthrow the world of white racial hegemony with cunning and super science."

"Journalist George S. Schulyer’s fantastic tale was written in serials in the Black Pittsburgh Courier between 1936 and 1938. It quickly found a loyal following among African-American readers, who saw in Dr. Belsidius and the Black Internationale a heroic, sci-fi tale of Black nationalism, triumph and race pride. The newspaper was surprised at the serials' growing popularity, and pushed for more—sixty-two in all. Yet no one was as surprised at the story's success than George Schulyer who, disdaining what he saw as the excesses of black nationalism and race pride, had written Black Empire as satire."

"And perhaps indeed, the last laugh was on Schulyer. Black Empire remains one of his most popular remembered works of fiction, and saw a reprint in 1991–in part with the help of none other than the Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project at the University of California. Dr. Belsidius, the ultimate mad genius, may have in the end outwitted his own creator."

via The Afrofuturist Affair
posted by Eideteker (4 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Interestingly enough, Black Empire seemed to predict Hitler's actions. Just change "black" to "German" and "white" to "Jew". It sure as heck seemed to predict World War 2 (as is stated in the article).
posted by enamon at 7:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Actually, the article misspells the author's name. It's actually spelled George Schuyler, not Schulyer. There was a previous Metafilter about his biracial daughter, Philippa Schuyler, who was a musical child prodigy. Schuyler was also notable, because I believe he was the first black guy to write for the John Birch Society's publication, American Opinion.
posted by jonp72 at 8:42 AM on January 8, 2015

jonp72: Actually, the article misspells the author's name. It's actually spelled George Schuyler, not Schulyer.

It uses both Schuyler and Schulyer, which was driving me a bit crazy before I told my inner editor to go take a coffee break. According to ctrl+f, there are 18 instances of each.
posted by Kattullus at 10:02 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

"I have been greatly amused by the public enthusiasm for ‘The Black Internationale,’ which is hokum and hack work of the purest vein. I deliberately set out to crowd as much race chauvinism and sheer improbability into it as my fertile imagination could conjure. The result vindicates my low opinion of the human race." (Schuyler to Prattis, April 4, 1937)

what a quote
posted by young_son at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

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