For thousands of years, writers have blackened pages by themselves, sitting in the proverbial corner, penning works of fiction. Syllble wants to transform that paradigm from the solitary nature of writing as it is seen to a unique social experience for writers, by allowing them to produce new worlds they can explore together through their own stories. As a sci-fi and fantasy production house, Syllble was born of the desire to give underrepresented writers and artists a leg up. We believe that stories told from multiple perspectives within a uniquely imagined fictional world can inspire collaboration and deep change in our society. The times we live in today demand it, as we are faced with impossible crises and old, outdated, crumbling models that desperately need to be reimagined. This partnership between Syllble and Moko is underpinned by one idea: a shared fictional world where black and brown Caribbean writers can come together to create.
The inception of this particular world began when I first spoke to Dr. Neil Oculi, an assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of Portland and an interdisciplinary political geographer born and raised in Saint Lucia. He was a guest on The Fabrice Guerrier Show, a podcast about the future of humanity. In this particular episode, we explored possible Caribbean futures—with an emphasis on scenarios wrought from a failure to address climate change. Neil asked one of the most profound questions of all: what if Caribbean nations had developed a technology that was able to lift them into the earth’s atmosphere to escape the deadly hurricane-force winds, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change that had become too common in this deep future.
A few months later, Andre Bagoo and I met to discuss the collaboration between Syllble and Moko. We talked about bringing together black Caribbean speculative fiction writers to create a fictional world and write stories that could show a different future for the Caribbean, something the region is seeing more and more of these days such given the outpouring of interest in speculative fiction.
I was born and raised in Haiti; Celeste Rita Baker is from the Virgin Islands; and Tonya Liburd is from Trinidad and Tobago. The three of us gathered together over a few months and designed a unique fictional universe deeply inspired by Caribbean culture and society—synthesizing its folklore and mythology and shared history that culminated in a seventeen-page “Story Bible” that housed the world. Thereafter, we three invited Joanne C. Hillhouse from Antigua and Barbuda to write within this world.
The Caribbean Sky Islands is a science-fantasy world that engages a magic system fueled by West African traditions. We put our heads together and asked what an egalitarian and multiracial society might look like. How would it be possible in this science-fantasy future for the Caribbean Islands to levitate in the sky? How could they fit together like puzzle pieces to evade natural disasters, celebrate carnival, and determine what it means to be Caribbean? How would this entire world use the sun’s energy to power itself sustainably? How could we engage the sacredness of the natural world and plant life as an essential core to the design of smart cities, smart homes, and healthy living?
Enter a fantastical world that has established the ideal educational system, created a matriarchal society based on free love, and engaged in new ways to deal with conflict via music and restorative justice. A world inclusive to multisex people, queer and neural divergent people. Inhabit a new economic model that honors its people and honors a newfangled pantheon of gods who are inherently altruistic. Here, the more good a person does, the more raw power these gods will lend them. Here, is a whole new paradigm.
Syllble brings you three gripping speculative fiction stories:
From the tall, lush forest, large brown fur bats descended from the shadows, moving to the rocky floor. Their wingspan: abnormally wide. Their screeches: abnormally loud. They echoed through the valley’s ancient, vine- and-plant-covered ruins. Read ‘Magic Mangoes‘ by Fabrice Guerrier.
Leavening Day. De days when all de Caribbean islands levitate into de sky and fit together, close as teeth. Bitnay well know it make dem special. How many times dey had rise up to escape hurricane? De wind alone woulda pluck every feather from he fat belly, long neck, tiny head self, and dat’s if he survive. Read ‘Rock, Feather, Shell‘ by Celeste Rita Baker.
Ixie feels it right away, as soon as soon as she wakes up. Her body is being obstinate again. Her nipples are engorged to what feels like twice their size and she knows better than to touch them. She touches them anyway. Masochist. She flinches at the pain. Read ‘Ixie and Izzy‘ by Joanne C Hillhouse.
Fabrice Guerrier is the Haitian-American founder of Syllble, a sci-fi and fantasy production house. He is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in several publications, including the PEN America Blog, Public Pool, and Blavity.
Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne C. Hillhouse is the author of several books of fiction. Find her at jhohadli.wordpress.com
Celeste Rita Baker is a Virgin Islander. Her stories have been included in The Caribbean Writer, Moko, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and other publications. She is a proud 2019 graduate of Clarion West Science Fiction Writers Workshop. Her website is celesteritabaker.com