A long, long time ago, back when I was actually writing things on this blog, instead of just posting random cat pictures and promising to write things on this blog, I was working on a novel. This was so far back in the danky, drippy mists of time, even before the great Nanowrimo fiasco. So, September, October, even. I had thrown out a few random links to news items and bits of weirdness that were jangling around in my head and generally being sticky with ideas for the novel-in-progress, refereed to cryptically on twitter as Novel # 3.
Well. Now that Nanowrimo is safely behind us, smoldering in the distance, I can get back to focusing my short attention span on the proper novel that, truth be told, I’ve been fiddling with off and on since May. The fiddling is done, dear reader(s). The twangy Philip-Glassian warm up music has given way to a full blown orchestra (if John Williams directed an opera by The Ventures), harrumphing and blaring away in my brain. And it’s a doozy. And I will lay all its piece sout for you here, as they stand, partially to document the creative process I’ve developed since the previosu novel, but also as a self-evaluation tool, to see if any of the funny, silly, sticky bits that I think are so wonderful aren’t in fact total shit when I try to explain them to someone else.
Novel # 3’s proper title is: The Man From Planet X. I’m borrowing the title from a little-known sci-fi movie from 1951, about a visitor to Earth from a rogue planet who is mistaken by the military for a threat when in fact, he’s jus a curious visitor who looks funny. And so they kill him. The movie offers an atypical criticism of the cold war and red-baiting era, somethig most of the sci-fi movies of the period address in purly jingoistic terms. Well-scrubbed white American men beat the ever-loving shit out of those skinny, weird looking Martians, who all look alike and want to steal our women folk, whose sole purpose in the film is to scream while wearing a bra designed by a munitions manufacturer so that an entire generation of American kids grow up associating bullets and breasts in an unhealthy Pavlovian manner that confuses sexual urges with aggression. In this movie, the military is the bad guy, shooting first and asking questions never, to the detriment of humanity in general. Same as it ever was.
My novel actually has nothing at all to do with any of this. I just like the classic B-movie ring to it. No, that’s not true either.
The main character is Major Thomas Jones, USAF, pilot of Freedom 7-II, the last Mercury-era mission. Major Tom launches into orbit in 1963. And disappears. Almost 50 years later, in 2012, he falls out of the sky and lands in Uzbekistan. Due to the fragile political climate of that hollow state, the US military can’t go in after him. So they send in Salome Anaconda Divine, a Biological agent for a futurist NGO called the Geranium Appreciation society (which is sort of like if Boing Boing and Greenpeace merged and were funded by Bono and Richard Branson). Salome gets herself captured by the cannibal warlord who has Major Tom in his castle in the toxic wasteland adjacent tot her Aral Sea. Hijinks ensue. And by Hijinks, I mean the rest of the story. You see, Major Tom doesn’t belong in this world. He’s the first ever documented time traveler. Untethered from causality, he’s fallen through time and space and is free to change the future. But first, he’s got to figure out the world of 21 C and his place in it. Salome is there to help. Complicating matters are a government bureaucracy, militant Transhumanists, a secret society, madmen, monsters and other escapees from various futures that never were.
So, Major Tom is the Man From Planet X. He’s come to visit and see what this world is like and try not to get himself killed in the process. Currently, he’s just met a charismatic Investment banker who decides to be his arch enemy and a stranger who knows who Tom is and where he is really from, eaten sushi for the first time and been offered a job saving the world.
And that’s the story thus far.
1. Some may say that ‘fiasco’ is rather harsh, considering that the half-assed attempt to write a novel in 30 days is the point of Nanowrimo, but I barely go 8K words into it before the bottom fell out. So, yeah. Not exactly a high point on my own personal commitment scale. I had intended to use it as a short-form look into the creative process, documented on the blog for all the world and posterity to ogle at and be informed, or at least interested. So much for that idea.
2. I’m not really slagging on Nanowrimo. It was great fun, as it always is and is a wonderful exercise to get the creative process moving again. Working on that ill-conceived story gave me the perspective I needed to work out some of the thornier plot issues under which Novel # 3 had stalled. And that really is the point of Nanowrimo. It’s a boot to the butt of the muse.
3. In the real world, Freedom 7-II was canceled, it’s crew (Alan Shepherd) and funding transferred to the new Apollo program. This actually points to a larger part of the world I’m building in the story, and is a cross between a spoiler and an Easter Egg.