Monday, January 7, 2013

Post-Mortem The First

"How Bob Lost His B" was a fun story to write. I guess for someone working in the tech industry, a story where a faceless cubicle dweller lives in a nameless city of cubicle-dwellers is rather cathartic. It pretty much wrote itself. In any case, I don't have any shortage of ideas for more stories in this milieu, so you'll probably see more of these as the challenge year wears on.

Next up is a story about a guy who joins a flying saucer cult to find the truth, but winds up with a girlfriend instead. It comes from two sources. The first is "When Prophecy Fails," a fun sociological study about what happens the day after a cult's predictions of world calamity fails. The rest...the rest comes from some books I'd found when I was a kid.

I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Being a heavy reader, I would find books wherever I could. I lived far away from the nearest library, so garage sales and thrift shops were my friends. Oftentimes, I'd go through extended dry spells without getting any new books and be forced to reread the ones I had.

I guess some of my neighbors must have been convinced the Truth Was Out There, because I'd find alien contact books and UFO conspiracies fairly frequently hidden amongst the usual pulp sci-fi ("skiffy" as it's sometimes called), fantasy novels, True Stories Of Hardboiled Grit and torrid romances.

The pattern was usually the same. The author would talk of meeting Space Brothers. They'd look like your standard middle-class white men in suits. They'd go to their flying saucer, meet liberated women, travel to Venus or Mars or Jupiter or some made-up planet with a cool name like "Clarion" or what-have-you. They'd meet a Jesus figure who'd give them very vague commandments or life advice. Then they'd go back and appear on radio shows and make wild claims about things they could do or build. I remember one where the guy claimed he could teleport, but only when no one was looking...because there was one evening where he was at home by himself, listening to the radio, and he came to in a ditch five miles out of town. Teleportation!

I ate these up with a spoon. I was a kid who read encyclopedias for fun; this lived in a happy place exactly between that and your typical science fiction novel. As an adult, it's a fun part of Americana. So, that's what the next story's going to be: I dug up a few issues of Fate magazine I had from the 70's, a book by Berlitz about the Bermuda Triangle. Dusted off some contactee stories. Sadly, my favorite book of that type is nowhere to found. I think a Space Brother might have taken it.

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