Want to get a look at the secret place?
It's not nearly as salacious as it sounds.
It's a corner of my mind that engages during truly difficult times.
It's an escape.
It's the writerly equivalent of dumping out everything in the toy box and just playing. Cowboys with dinosaurs. Universal monsters in the Star Wars cantina.
I give no thought to how saleable the story is or if it's conforming to everything I've learned in grad school, workshop, or Writer's Digest. You see, creating good literature or art is hard. It requires great depth of thought. I just can't do that right now. This election, my Grandmother's death, problems at work, and personal exigencies of the highest order leave me with only enough mental bandwidth to teach my classes...and sometimes I wonder if I even have that much. No, as much I live life in service to the intellect, I must turn it off for now.
There's seldom anything new that germinates from this creative process. In fact it's downright derivative as I play in other people's sandboxes without acknowledging the properties by name, Sometimes the writing comes into a fully-formed and readable text. Most other times its notes, sketches, and research spat out in "diary of a madman" style. Things only I can read. But I enjoy it because sometimes I think planning and researching are the most enjoyable part of the writing process. You know, when everything is new? But I digress...
So would you like to see what I'm playing with? I could post it in episodic installments here on the blog. I suppose your answer depends, and justifiably so, on just what "it" is. I can tell you a few attributes that I have in mind right now. I'll pitch it to you in bulletpoint form with each point accompanied by its inspiration (read: ripped off source):
-This is going to be a sweeping space opera of the pulpiest sort. Just look at the pic I've included at the top of this post. Visually, it says it all. There will be bubble-shaped helmets on spacesuits and spiky rocketships. And laser guns. Lots of splodey laser guns. If you want another stylistic inspiration, take a look at DC's Adam Strange.
-Star Wars. Man, will there be a lot of Star Wars. I can't even begin to relate how much Star Wars will be in this toy box.
-Our lead character will owe a heavy debt to both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Of course both of those characters played off of one another in various respects so mentioning them in tandem should not be surprising. This guy will be a great athlete, a swashbuckling fighter, but also a keen intellect. Basically he's everything I'm not. I once wrote an old pulp story with a James Dean-like character named Chase Danner. I think the name fits here too. Chase it is.
-He has a sidekick, natch. A major domo, a "his man Friday" that serves as his Alfred or his Dr. Watson. Only this time the character isn't human. He's an artificial being like a Replicant a la Blade Runner. He's on the run with Chase because the galaxy hates artificial lifeforms and is forcing them to register.
-Oh yeah, both of our heroes are on the run from a tyrannical empire that has taken over the galaxy. The guy now in charge of the known universe is an orange-skinned former pirate who amassed a fortune and took leadership. What's more, all of his lowbrow cronies are now governors of individual star systems.
-Fleeing this tyranny for having run afoul of it somehow, Chase and his major domo crash land on a planet that bears an uncanny resemblance to prehistoric Earth. That means dinosaurs. Lots of 'em. I see it being equal parts John Carter of Mars and Land That Time Forgot, both of which written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I don't know what the humanoid life will be like on that planet, but they will carry swords.
-Apes. I'm a sucker for ape people. Get ready for a whole city of them,
-Our heroic duo are going to meet a small, green-skinned member of a quasi-samurai organization called The Order. The membership of this sect has been broken by the new government and most of them are in hiding. They're sort of a mix of Vulcan and Jedi.
-You know how everybody seems to hate the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi? I mean, that was of course before we were assaulted with Jar Jar Binks. After that they looked positively glorious. My idea? The cute, teddy bear-like creatures are engaged in a woodsy facade. They're really covering up a highly technological civilization planning for galactic dominance.
-There's another rival for the orange tyrant. A criminal. A product of genetic engineering just like Khan. Except in this case I'm thinking more the Bennedict Cumberbatch version because I wouldn't want to sully the perfection that was Ricardo Montalban.
-I once saw a documentary on cuttlefish that featured my cousin Josh. I thought the fish would make a great basis for alien beings so I might as well toss them into this stew.
-There will be a large ship full of refugees similar to Battlestar Galactica. I may or may not draw upon non-Western Earth cultures as my inspirations.
-In their adventures, Chase and currently unnamed sidekick accumulate more adventure companions. This is in keeping with other space operas such as Message from Space and Battle Beyond the Stars. Who will I ripoff for them? The Gil Gerard-era Buck Rogers (Twiki!)? Battlestar Galactica? The Micronauts? Who knows. That's the fun part. I just know it will be a merry band of warriors. "Stronger together," right?
-There's going to be a giant robot. Something like a Shogun Warrior.
-Chicks. Really hot chicks. That's part of pulp. Of course I debated whether not to include this as it seems insensitive (yes, I thought I was going to stop thinking for this, but it ain't so easy.) Then I heard an interview with Carrie Fisher today on NPR where she talked about how great of a character Leia is and how she became a part of her. I can try to emulate all of that...and still put characters in metal bikinis.
Hell, let's crowdsource this shit. What do YOU want to see?
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