When editor Lou Anders sent me an advanced copy of Masked for proofreading purposes, I ended up reading the entire anthology over the course of two days. I remember emailing Lou soon after to discuss, among other things, Daryl Gregory’s brilliant contribution to the collection. I enjoyed “Message from the Bubblegum Factory” so much that I decided to make Gregory’s The Devil’s Alphabet our August Book of the Month Club selection (Oh, and here’s a perfect opportunity to remind you all that discussion on the novel begins next week, so hurry and up and finish!).
Daryl Gregory is no stranger to anthologies. His short fiction has appeared in numerous Year’s Best collections. His first novel, Pandemonium, won him the 2009 Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. His second novel, The Devil’s Alphabet (did I mention it’s this month’s book of the month club pick?), was named One of the Best Books of 2009 by Publisher’s Weekly and nominated for the 2009 Philip K. Dick Award. His first comic book, Dracula: Company of Monsters which he co-wrote with the legendary Kurt Busiek, will be out this month from BOOM! Studios. His next novel, Raising Stony Mayhill, will be out the summer of 2011 by Del Rey Books. Between writing, family, and being a self-described “web guy”, Daryl also blogs here: http://darylgregory.wordpress.com/.
Like previous Masked contributors, I asked Daryl if he could tell us a little about his story and how he ended up a part of the anthology. He offered the following:
The only reason I’m in this anthology is because Chris Roberson, another MASKED contributor and a great writer, pushed a story of mine called “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” into Lou Anders’ hands. That story, which appeared in an SF/Fantasy anthology called ECLIPSE, was a minion’s-eye view of life in a nation run by a Dr. Doom-like figure, but played straight. I thought SF readers might not know what to make of the story, but I really wanted to write it.
See, I’m a science fiction writer who’s just now breaking into comics, but I’ve been a comic book fan my entire life — even longer than I’ve been a reader. I have a distinct memory of sitting in my father’s lap as he read aloud to me from an issue of Spider-Man. And today if you come to my house, you’re required to salute the statue of Captain America I keep in my living room.
In “Message from the Bubblegum Factory” I was trying to have my cake and eat it too — by writing an SF story that spoke to my love of comics. As Matt noted in his post a few days ago, “Message from the Bubblegum Factory” feels a bit deconstructive, and Publisher’s Weekly called it metafictional — but I’m here to say it’s neither! Okay, maybe a little. But not really.
Let me explain.
In these big comics universes — like DC, Marvel, or the brand new one Bill Willingham invented for the closing story in MASKED — there’s no coherent explanation for how these people got their powers. Everything is true: super-science, aliens, lost civilizations, mythology, mutations, magic… it’s all up for grabs. Aquaman can fight side by side with the Martian Manhunter and Zatanna against Zeus. Which can be an awful lot of fun, but you can’t think too hard about it.
It seemed to me that if you’re going to write a prose story about superheroes, you can go the Wild Cards route and invent a shared origin, or you can ignore the incoherency and just have fun with it. But what I decided to do — this is the cake-eating-and-having part — is come up with a science fictional explanation for a Marvel-style universe.
The main character of “Bubblegum” is Eddie King, a former sidekick who believes the whole world has been invented for the amusement of Soliton, the world’s first superhero and Eddie’s adoptive father. After Soliton arrived, supervillains and more superheroes started popping up, freak accidents began giving people powers instead of killing them, and the laws of physics got rubbery.
Eddie knows Soliton came here from a mundane parallel universe that sounds suspiciously like the reader’s. So that raises some questions for Eddie. Is everyone in his world living in some kind of virtual reality, or personal artificial universe? And is every event — even Eddie’s plot to kill his father — part of Soliton’s script? Like poor old Oedipus Rex, Eddie King is trying to figure out if he’s fated to play out his role, or if he has free will… or if he’s just crazy.
I have a couple more stories planned about Eddie and the team he’s assembled to kill Soliton. Maybe if folks buy lots of copies of MASKED, Lou will make a home for another one of them.
And more Daryl Gregory to come in the coming weeks…
Once again, a little pic from Stargate: Universe’s first season that hints at something to come in season two…
I keep meaning to put together a countdown of my top ten favorites. I’m credited on a little over 70 Stargate episodes and have been able to come up with 15 that I consider personal faves. And, as you probably guessed, my list doesn’t exactly line up with the fan choices. In fact, many fan favorites like Siege II, Space, and Exodus don’t even make the cut.
link022 writes: “1/The origin of the evolution of goauld is another mystery, Have they really discovered on their own initiative how to travel by the gate (It is very difficult to compose an address in the good order knowing that it has 7 symbols, without counting the fact that some would correspond to no planet)?”
Answer: We know that the goa’uld appropriated much of their technology from other civilizations. It stands to reason that they acquired knowledge of the gate system the same way – through their host bodies.
“2/Nox was left of quoted in SG1 contrary to asgards, Will reinstate them you one day in one of your movies or in SGU?”
Answer: No plans to revisit the Nox.
“3/We see in one of the episodes of SG1 that some asgards stayed under their original shape (cf 5X22) is it possible that like the asgards of pégase, several factions not agreeing with the program of cloning exile themselves?”
Answer: It’s possible – and also likely they’d have died off by now.
“We know that the ancients put in by drones possess beams of plasma as weapon. will they put in evidence in your next movie of stargate atlantis”
ytimynona writes: “Hey Joe, what’s the name of the actress who plays Eli’s …female friend… this season?”
Answer: Might you be referring to the lovely and talented Julie McNiven who’ll be playing the role of Ginn in SGU’s second season.
Deni writes: “Hi Joe, thanks for the pics, I really liked “Brainstorm”. So, like, if I’m having a lousy day (which I am), could you post a couple of pics of Daniel Jackson tomorrow, or does Das get all the perks?”
Answer: Here you go.
Answer: I kind of did a blog entry about it here: https://josephmallozzi.com/2010/05/02/may-2-2010-my-super-list-news-of-note/
Winst writes: “Joe……..FYI…check out the cover image of the new issue of Time Magazine.
Looks a lot like your adorable Maximus.”
Answer: Well, whaddya know. It DOES look a lot like Maximus.