Monday, June 28, 2010

Pulp Fiction: My Space Opera and the Return of Marlowe and Winston

Space Opera

I've always wanted to write a space opera ever since I was a wee lad who wished he could get a hold of some old Buck Rogers stories and the Flash Gordon serials. In the late 80s in Carroll County, MD, this just wasn't going to happen. The cultural imaginations of space travel before people had even been to the Moon was simply fascinating to me. Now I'm a grown man and I have almost limitless fodder from the early years of SF to wet my whistle. It's about time I create something familiar enough to satisfy that child-like urge for unreasonable adventure, yet original enough to make me feel I'm not completely wasting my time/talents. I mean, I'm not writing for the pulps. But that's mainly because the pulps don't exist anymore.

I am going to write a series of space opera shorts that tie into a potential trilogy of novels.

My selling point for the story world is this: If Jack London, H.P Lovecraft and Douglas Adams collaborated on Star Wars. But just like Seinfeld wasn't actually about nothing, this tag line does very little communicate my aims for the series. I'll be mixing in classic concepts, like a sassy female android for comic relief and diabolical Astrodemons from a distant galaxy, with more modern ones, like a mind-corrupting space metal called carasium (colloquially "crazium") and corporate control of worlds which are ostensibly Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in the distant future. I will combine post-apocalyptic and dying earth tropes with steampunk aesthetics, but never forgetting the retrofuturist dogma that we can defeat the alien menace with our human heart and ingenuity. There will be some pirate story and Star Trek in there, too.

I hope I can manage to sell these stories to some major magazines. But I'll be doing so under the pen name C. S. Nightingale. (I may also do some fantasy adventure tales under the anagram Chang Lei Tsing.) I find this distinction pragmatic because G. Arthur Brown will be know for his Slipstream, Bizarro, Quasi-Literary Absurdism/Irrealism/Surrealism. Anything less 'artistic' will be assigned an alias. Word up.

Marlowe and Winston

I had an idea about two years ago to start up a pulpy short story serial about supernatural gangsters vying for control of a near-future metropolis to prevent/bring about the end of mankind. I had posted my early drafts of about nine episodes on my blog at Myspace, each imperfectly rendered in a short amount of time with minimal editing or thought put into cohesion with the overarching plot. I wanted to bring in an illustrator to do a plate for each episode. I couldn't find anyone willing to do artwork for me. As any hero would, I abandoned the stories a few months later like thalidomide babies.

But now they are back from the grave.

I'll be reworking my original ideas into some short stories, each composed of scenes that happen non-sequentially, giving glimpses of about three different timelines (let's call them Past, Present and Yet to Come).

What's it all about, G.? Marlowe is the young, cocky new recruit (or so it would seem). Winston is the seasoned but disillusioned mentor guiding Marlowe toward success, while all the time knowing it has been prophesied that Marlowe will be his undoing. The two are agents of forces known only as the Thanes, who oppose the enigmatic Boyars, otherworldly entities who wish to destroy the City. Mostly, they run around killing other agents and minor demons and undead, while struggling to stay out of the greater conflict that is mounting. But gradually, they are drawn toward the final, inescapable showdown.

It's gonna be rad, I swear.

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