The recently released anthology, Masked, boasts some impressive talent, its various authors hailing from diverse backgrounds: comic books, literary SF, and television. But James Maxey is one of the few contributors with experience writing specifically superhero-themed prose fiction – like his cult classic debut novel, Nobody Gets the Girl, as well as several of his short stories “Final Flight of the Blue Bee” (published in Asimov’s) and “Return to Sender” (published in Intergalactic Medicine Show). He is presently working on another super-themed book, Greatshadow, which he describes as “a fantasy that features a team of superpowered warriors on a quest to slay the world’s most feared dragon—sort of X-Men meets Tolkien.” X-men meets Tolkien? I’m in!
His contribution to Masked, “Where Their Worm Dieth Not”, is a terrific tale about about death and resurrection, twin concepts generally accepted unquestioned or glossed over in the world of comics, but explored here with a focus on its psychological consequences. It’s an incredibly engaging story with some great, great dialogue. I asked James if he could tell us a little about how he came to be involved in the anthology and what led him to tackle this particular story. He wrote back:
Masked was originally a project with Solaris Books, the publishers of my fantasy novels Bitterwood, Dragonforge, and Dragonseed. I was invited to participate because the Solaris editors were fans of my debut novel, Nobody Gets the Girl, a superhero adventure. I wrote Nobody purely as a labor of love. When I was a teenager, I read every superhero novel I could find—Elliot S. Maggin’s Superman books were particularly good, and I’d comb through flea markets searching for old pulp adventures of the Shadow or Doc Savage. I’m a hardcore comic book geek who thinks that words look best when surrounded by little balloons, but there’s something about prose that produces a more satisfying insight into the inner lives of superheroes. At the time I started Nobody, there was really no original superhero fiction being published. Nobody Gets the Girl was my attempt at writing the book I wanted to read that no one else had bothered to write.
My idea for “Where Their Worm Dieth Not” comes from the comic book trope that the heroes and villains die rather frequently, but never stay dead. With a few notable exceptions, when the dead heroes show up alive a few issues later, it barely merits a raised eyebrow. But, really, suppose you were a hero who had died and been reborn on numerous occasions. Every day you’d read the obituaries of ordinary people who pass away and aren’t resurrected by the Spectre, or time-travelers, or a bargain with the devil. Wouldn’t you develop a serious case of survivor guilt? On the flip side, just how many times do you watch as the Joker gets eaten by sharks, or dissolved in acid, or crushed by a falling satellite before you feel a sense of weariness knowing that, in the long run, he’s as immune to death as you are? It seemed like there was an untold story here, and I’m grateful that Lou Anders gave me a shot at telling it.
Nobody ever stays dead in comic books. The same rule applies to science fiction television.
Anyway, I also asked James what else he had in the works in addition to Greatshadow. Well, turns out he’s planning more superhero fiction. According to him:
I’ve been fleshing out ideas for a series of adventures starring a hero named Ap. Tommy Appleton was a runaway teenager kidnapped by a supervillian and used as a human guinea pig to test a teleportation belt. Alas, the belt didn’t work. Tommy was disintegrated, and spent over twenty years as a field of subatomic particles. When he was finally reintegrated by a team of government scientists investigating the villain’s futuristic devices, Tommy discovers that his still unstable atomic state can be tweaked by adjusting the programming of the belt, granting him a variety of superpowers. He publishes the source code that operates the belt on the internet, and invites people to write new programs that he can download to give him powers he hasn’t even imagined yet. Life-casting all his adventures, he becomes famous as Ap, the world’s first open-source superhero. Right now, anyone who emails me an original superpower that I can use in a story will qualify for a drawing for a free copy of both Masked and Nobody Gets the Girl.
Full details along with info on his blog: http://dragonprophet.blogspot.com/2010/08/giveaway-for-masked-anthology-and.html
It’s time for another Stargate-related guest blogger announcement. I’m pleased to announce actor Tygh Runyan (SGU’s Robert Caine, last scene in Faith) will be fielding your fan questions. So, if you got ’em, post ’em!
Well, when I rolled in this morning, I discovered that the set pieces/art work/garbage I pictured sitting beside the production offices yesterday was gone – and replaced with this…
A hint of thing(s) to come in season two. This time, a recent concept drawing for a forthcoming episode…
I’ve been informed that my use of the term “friendo” as in “Hey, friendo!” (used to greet my co-workers) seems disingenuous. And, apparently, the same goes for its variations: friend, pal, buddy, buddy-boy, buddy-o, pal-o, pal-o-mine, friendster, friendenstein, friend flintstone, etc. “It sounds insincere,”insists Linda. To which a wide-eyed Carl replied: “Have you met this guy?” Indicating me. “I’ve known him six years and I’m still not sure he actually likes me.” So I’m soliciting suggestions for possible alternate nicknames. Said nicknames should be sincere and preferably heartfelt (ie. Chinchillax, DJ Fresh Bread, or Commander Wings Fortescu III). The winning nickname shall be bestowed upon my co-worker in a special ceremony to be held at month’s end.