Sunday, May 12, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

This post serves two functions - ONE, to provide a format for a rant (aren't those what blogs are for?) and TWO, to announce an upcoming Zelmer Pulp project.

PART ONE:

You know what I love? Wikipedia.

I know there are a lot of detractors out there who claim that the information can be incorrect or biased—which is true—but I remember the days before Wikipedia, before the Internet. We had encyclopedias and the card catalog. The information was all safe to use in school reports, but it was all bunched into one place, and you'd have to spend hours researching. One book would lead you to another to another until you found your 'aha' for a story, and then hours and hours of research for supplementary information. (You haven't even started writing yet!)

For an upcoming Zelmer Pulp project, we're trying to orchestrate a little dance through history using a common timeline. In the past, I would have to read 40 books or arrange conversations with college professors of history before I could garner enough information about whether so-and-so was alive at a certain time, or if what's-his-face had invented that thingamabob yet. Now, I can find out in three to five clicks.

This is an amazing time we live in. Okay, shut up, I know I'm old, but seriously - - Wikipedia is the combined knowledge of millions of books distilled into one cross-referenced device. Back in middle school, we called it the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and it was a thing of science fiction.

I woke up this morning at 4 AM thinking about this alternate-Earth history project, and you know what I didn't do? I didn't have to wait for the library to open. I opened my laptop without getting out of bed and started finding out some interesting details about Nikola Tesla, spiritualism, and 19th Century inventions. Did you know that someone invented a fuel cell back in the early 1800s? Did you know that Friedrich Nietzsche hated Richard Wagner and the German anti-Semitic movement? (It's all related, at least to my part of this epic undertaking). That's how I spent my morning before I had my coffee.

Okay, so, maybe this resource (as flawed as it may be) all balances out compared to other distractions. Nowadays, writers have to be writing blogs and posting to social networks and going to signings and handing out swag and promoting and pimping and writing reviews to build a presence. So we NEED that distilled resource in order to get all this stuff done. There is no way that all of this research could get done in the traditional 20th Century way with all this marketing of self going on. So, maybe it's the internet's fault that we have to do this digital pimping in the first place. I mean, without the internet, and without e-book publishers competing for attention, maybe we writers wouldn't have to spend so much time spraying in the corners, trying to get attention.

By 1910, We already had vacuum tubes and babbage's calculating machine, so was it simply lack of available resources stopping the development and proliferation of computers? Was it economics? Practical uses? Did World War I jar the momentum of technological development or inspire it into the wrong direction? What if Thomas Edison wasn't an asshole, and General Electric was more visionary, letting Tesla complete his bigger-picture inventions for free energy and war-stopping weapons? What if the world had thought it more important to invest in communication than in tanks and gas masks? What if Tesla had become some kind of super-psychic, and was able to network the minds of other early 20th Century inventors? How soon before we would've had the internet? How would life have been different in 1900?

Would we be sharing over that internet (and what would the Victorians call it?) photos of our cats and dogs and kids and what we made for dinner, or would we be philosophizing about the afterlife,  the latest novel discovery or invention, or would we be speaking to the dead using Tesla Electric Ethervox devices and transmitting messages and invention blueprints via Telegraphic Facsimile Machines?

What if World War I was averted? Big changes in history can occur from tiny nudges. What might have changed to shift history's gears? This was a theme in my story TIMEJACKED: THE RAND PARADOX in Zelmer Pulp's latest publication, HEY, THAT ROBOT ATE MY BABY, and it's being recycled I guess. But for this upcoming project, we're not giving history just a little nudge, we're giving it a titanic kick in its ass.

PART TWO:

Remember in the late 80s when comic books had an epic growth spurt? RETURN OF THE DARK KNIGHT and THE WATCHMEN were key examples of what I'm talking about. Those day-glow colors were pulled right out of their capes replaced with washes of grey. Zelmer Pulp is going even darker. Well, there might be some day-glow colors just to throw you off, but you know how we do things. Yes, Zelmer Pulp is tackling the superhero genre. Steampunk superheroes, Cold War super soldiers, and contemporary noir superheroes with darker-than-grey motivations.

You've read C'MON AND DO THE APOCALYPSE. You've read HEY, THAT ROBOT ATE MY BABY. You've seen what we can do. Coming up next, you'll see what we can do to the Western genre. Isaac Kirkman gave you a taste in his THIS PROTEAN LOVE, and if you haven't yet read any of Chris Leek's Wild West stuff, you're in for a surprise. Is it ironic that our guru of all things Western is from the U.K.?

Now, just try to imagine what we're going to do to the superhero genre. Title to be announced. In production...



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