What Would Undo the Maxim Gun? Magic: P. Djèlí Clark and andré carrington


Locus- and Nebula- award-winning author P. Djèlí Clark joins critic andré carrington (UC Riverside) and host Rebecca Ballard for a conversation about the archives, methods, and cosmologies that inform his speculative fiction. Clark’s fiction blends fantasy and horror elements with richly drawn historical worlds that speak to his academic life as a historian. Most recently, Ring Shout (2020) maps Lovecraftian horror into the Ku Klux Klan’s 1920s terrorism in the U.S. South, while A Master Of Djinn (2021) brings angels and the titular djinns into a steampunk version of Egypt focalized around a pair of female detectives with the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. The conversation probes the way Clark’s work limns “the supernatural and the mundane,” delving into his formative experiences with the everyday presence of ancestors in the Caribbean and the U.S. South, the way he writes deities into mortal stories without flattening free will, and why he is committed to writing stories that talk about nations, politics, and racism, even in worlds where the supernatural is just as present. As the episode wraps up, Clark talks about the process that led to his celebrated 2018 story “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” which consists of nine vignettes imagining the lives of the enslaved people whose teeth Washington used for his dentures. Stay tuned for Clark’s iconic answer to this season’s signature question—a must-listen for anybody who has always suspected there’s something weird lurking beneath the surface of children’s television!

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