When people ask me, “What’s your story about?” I have a slight panic attack. Why? I can speculate, but I don’t really know. I can’t afford therapy.
BUT I am excited about the story I’m currently working on. (I’m excited about every story. At this moment, however, I’m also in an optimistic mood. Why optimism when the world feels like a flaming dung heap? Despair doesn’t need me 24/7.)
So, I’m finishing up The Book of Astrophilia. I shared bits of it long ago, and it has undergone massive changes. Today, I want to talk about how it started–the idea for the story, not the story itself.
First, I thought about Doctor Who. I wanted to do my own Doctor Who-ish story, ordinary human goes on space adventures with over-the-top hero! And the over-the-top hero would be a woman! (This was before Doctor Who actually had a woman Doctor.) Hero-and-sidekick is not groundbreaking, of course. This was going to be my take on the genre, with that Doctor Who vibe.
Second, I thought about the Ray Bradbury short story All Summer in a Day and his novel The Martian Chronicles (I loved the mini-series as a teen.) In these sci-fi stories, Bradbury ignores reality. Can it rain for seven years on Venus? Sure! Build a house dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe on Mars? Done and dusted! (Bless you, Mr. Bradbury.) So. Half-hearted apologies to the hard science lovers out there, I’ve created cities for Jupiter and frozen forests for Neptune and a bunch of planets that don’t exist. You’ve been warned.
Other influences in the mix: N.K. Jemisin’s Masterclass, David Lynch, and Hayao Miyazaki. A strange brew, perhaps? Maybe. But the brew of inspiration takes many ingredients.
Jemisin‘s Masterclass is excellent for anyone interested in fantasy/sci-fi worldbuilding. But for all the excellent nuts and bolts she shares about worldbuilding, my favorite point of hers is when she talks about magic. In worldbuilding circles, writers debate the uses of magic and rules. There is the your-magic-must-have-rules idea crowd. Sure! They make excellent points. Yet, Jemisin says something along the lines of–if there are rules, it is science. When she said that, my magic-loving brain caught my weird little heart.
It’s what I love about Miyazaki’s world. What are the rules of the magic in them? Who knows? His stories have inexplicable, rule-less things, yet they make sense (probably because he’s a genius). Miyazaki once said something about the things that happen make sense to a ten-year-old, and that’s good enough for him. My stories aren’t for children, but you buy into the world or you don’t. Some stories are for you and some are not.
As for David Lynch? He tells the weird stories he wants. And he doesn’t explain. I love that I’m slightly (sometimes a lot!) baffled by his storylines. Twin Peaks: The Return…what the hell is going on? I LOVED it. (It also scared the hell out of me, which I usually don’t love, but for this story, it was worth it anyway.)
To be fair, my story won’t be that baffling. In my stories, I like a hint of Twin Peaks (which seems a far cry from Miyazaki, yeah, I know), but they’re my stories, not Lynch’s.
All this to say, that starting the Monday after Easter, The Book of Astrophilia will begin on Patreon, a chapter released every Monday until THE END (which will probably be next year, y’all–this isn’t a small story). If it sounds like it’s for you, join in.
Thanks for reading!
2 thoughts on “Imaginary Planets”
“Despair doesn’t need me 24/7”: you could sell a zillion T-shirts with that message.
Oh, I loved Jemisin’s MasterClass too! Have you read any of her books? The ones I’ve read (four of them) BLEW MY MIND. (A cliche, but true.) (Originality doesn’t need me 24/7 — HA!)
Just for kicks, I did this: https://www.redbubble.com/i/pin/Despair-doesn-t-need-me-by-WordsAreArt/109239119.NP9QY