One hundred years ago today

Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the invasion and burning of the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma by an army of white citizens who had been frustrated in their attempt to lynch a black man the night before. By the time state troops arrived to quell the violence, hundreds of people were dead or wounded, and 35 square blocks of the formerly prosperous black neighborhood had been destroyed by arson.

I have a more detailed description of what is now known as the Tulsa Massacre in my Lovecraft Country readers’ guide. The “for further reading” section of the guide lists additional sources of information about the massacre, including this official 2001 report commissioned by the Oklahoma state legislature.

I also want to recommend, yet again, James W. Loewen’s book Sundown Towns, which makes the important point that the Tulsa Massacre was just one incident among many:

In town after town in the United States, especially between 1890 and the 1930s, whites forced out their African American neighbors violently, as they had the Chinese in the West. Decatur, in northeastern Indiana, went sundown in 1902… Adams County, of which Decatur is the county seat, wound up without a single black household; a century later, it still had only five. Decatur exemplifies a widespread phenomenon: little riots, most of which have never been written about, even by local historians… Towns with successful riots wound up all-white, of course, or almost so, and therefore had an ideological interest in suppressing any memory of a black population in the first place, let alone of an unseemly riot that drove them out.

Whites also tried to “cleanse” at least fifteen larger cities of their more substantial nonwhite populations: Denver (of Chinese) in 1880; Seattle (of Chinese) in 1886; Akron in 1900; Evansville, Indiana, and Joplin, Missouri, in 1903; Springfield, Ohio, in 1904, 1906, and again in 1908; Springfield, Missouri, in 1906; Springfield, Illinois, in 1908; Youngstown, Ohio, and East St. Louis, Illinois, in 1917; Omaha and Knoxville in 1919; Tulsa in 1921; Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1923; and Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1929… Some of these larger riots have received some attention, including books and historical markers. Since they were unsuccessful—in that they failed to drive out all African Americans—they have left fuller records of the process… But most of the little riots have gone entirely overlooked, and as a result, the pattern of widespread “ethnic cleansings,” of which these failed larger attempts represent the tip of the iceberg, is not generally understood.

Collectively, these incidents of violence helped shape America’s demographic landscape, where even today, there are large portions of the country where you don’t expect to see anyone who isn’t white. If you grew up not knowing the history, this can seem totally natural. But it isn’t.

Viola Ford Fletcher, 107, the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Massacre

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A visit to No Proscenium

No Proscenium founder Noah Nelson, who was our guest on episode 7 of the 88 Names podcast, invited me and my co-host Blake Collier to come hang out on his podcast last week. You can listen to the conversation here.

If you haven’t already, I’d also highly recommend checking out the rest of the No Pro website. It’s an incredibly useful resource for learning about immersive technology and art, and now that the pandemic lockdown is almost over (fingers crossed), I look forward to experiencing a lot more in-person immersive entertainment.

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The Fear of God podcast: Session 9

Last week I made a return visit to the Fear of God podcast to talk about one of my favorite horror movies, Session 9. We also chatted a bit about the Lovecraft Country TV series.

You can listen to the interview here. I also have a follow-up blog post where I delve into some of Session 9 director Brad Anderson’s other films.

And if you missed my first Fear of God appearance last June, when we talked about the Lovecraft Country novel, you can find that here.

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88 Names podcast: season 2 wrap-up

On this week’s special finale episode, Blake Collier and I close out the 88 Names podcast with a freewheeling conversation about virtual reality, what we learned from our guests on the ‘cast, and the very strange pandemic year we’ve all just lived through. Although this is the end of the road for this particular project, Blake and I will be teaming up again in a couple of weeks for an appearance on the No Proscenium podcast, hosted by Noah Nelson.

Big thanks once again to Blake, to our producer Darryl A. Armstrong of the Threaded Zebra Agency, to our host site, Rise Up Daily, to our sponsors, and to the many smart and creative people who agreed to talk to us. Take care, everybody!

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88 Names podcast bonus interview: Johanna Pirker

Today on the 88 Names podcast site, we have a written interview with Johanna Pirker, a professor and researcher for games and VR experiences at the Graz University of Technology in Austria. Johanna is also the director of the Game Lab Graz. In 2018, she was selected by Forbes for their 30 Under 30 list in Science. You can read the interview here.

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88 Names podcast bonus interview: Keram Malicki-Sanchez

photo by Tim Leyes

Today on the 88 Names podcast site, we have a written interview with actor, filmmaker, composer, and “VR evangelist” Keram Malicki-Sanchez. As the founder of the VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference and the founder and executive producer of FIVARS, the Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories, Keram knows a lot about recent and forthcoming developments in VR technology, and his answers to our questions cover a wide range of topics. You can check out the interview here.

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88 Names season 2, episode 5: Drew Stone

On this week’s episode of the 88 Names podcast, we talk with Drew Stone, the founder of Locusium, a company that helps organize and facilitate events in virtual reality. Drew is also an old friend of the pod — last year, he helped set up my author appearance on AltspaceVR.

This will be our last regular podcast episode. Next week, I’ll be returning to AltspaceVR for another live reading and Q&A (details here). And the week after that, Blake Collier and I will be doing a special wrap-up episode where we talk about this very strange year we’ve just lived through.

We also have a couple of bonus written interviews that will be posting soon. Stay tuned!

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Live reading and Q&A in AltspaceVR next Tuesday (4/13) at 5 PM Pacific

Next week, to celebrate the publication of the 88 Names trade paperback edition, I’ll be returning to AltspaceVR for a live reading and audience Q&A. The event is free and open to anyone with internet access.

To attend, you’ll need to download the appropriate AltspaceVR client software. Download links are on the AltspaceVR homepage (if you don’t have a VR headset, choose “2D mode”). Once the client is installed, you’ll need to create an account and spend a few minutes creating your avatar. The final step is to RSVP for the event, which you can do here.

I hope to see you there!

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Changed my Mind

This week I was a guest on the Changed my Mind podcast, hosted by Luke T. Harrington, the award-winning author of Ophelia, Alive: A Ghost Story and Murder Bears, Moonshine, and Mayhem.

As you might guess from the name, the podcast is devoted to interviews with people who’ve changed their minds about something important. In this episode, Luke and I talk about why I left the Lutheran church. I’ve discussed this publicly a few times before, most notably in a speech I gave at the 2010 Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing, but for a lot of fans I suspect this will be new, and may give some additional insight into why and how I write the kinds of novels that I do.

If you enjoy my conversation with Luke, I’d highly recommend you check out his other podcast episodes. The “loss of faith” interviews — such as the ones with Ryssa Marshall, Yons, and Calvin Moore — tend to be particularly interesting. I also really enjoyed the Halloween episode with Christian Tiews, a Lutheran exorcist, which I did not know was a thing (though having discovered that it is, I am unsurprised to learn that Lutheran exorcists think their version of the rite is superior to the Roman Catholic version).

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88 Names season 2, episode 4: Dr. Todd P. Chang

On this week’s episode of the 88 Names podcast, Blake and I talk with Dr. Todd P. Chang, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. Dr. Chang has done extensive research into the use of VR and other immersive technologies in medical training, particularly as it relates to his specialty. This was a great discussion, and as I mention at one point, prepping for the interview led me down some fascinating internet rabbit holes.

On our next episode, we’ll be talking to Locusium founder Drew Stone.

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