Tag Archives: science fiction

Deconstructing the Stories, Part 6

BRIAN SAYS:

People often ask us if there is anything autobiographical in the Drunk Comic Book Monkey series. The answer is absolutely yes. After all, the series is a collection of short stories where Chris and I are the main characters, so it stands to reason that there would be plenty of experiences to draw from. Now, some of what we’ve experienced in the books, aside from going toe-to-toe with monsters and aliens, happened to us only in the fictional world, such as waking up in a Tijuana jail cell, waking up in a Canadian jail cell, waking up on a deserted beach, but we’ve sprinkled some bits of real life throughout. One story that comes to mind is “The Day the Drunken Comic Book Monkeys Stood Still” in The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Sciencey Tales of Science Fiction.

In this story, Chris and I are the ambassadors for Earth. Yep. You read correctly. He and I represent Earth and all the people on it to a techno logically advanced alien race. As with most situations in our lives (both real and fictional) we just happen to stumble upon the roles the way most individuals step on sidewalk gum during a hundred degree day. The results are about the same, too, being sticky and unwelcomed. As the title implies, the story is a spoof of The Day the Earth Stood Still, including large, unstoppable alien robot. The aforementioned large, unstoppable alien robot is called down from the celestial heavens because Chris and I accidentally sidestepped yet another of Jeff’s attempts to kill us. The alien being wonders if he should annihilate Earth, and thusly uses Chris and me and measuring sticks for all of humanity. Obviously, Chris and I decide to show the alien the best humanity has to offer, so we take him to Las Vegas.

This story contains the most autobiographical material. The first, and most obvious, is that Jeff is way cooler than we are. We have a great deal of respect for him and a super great deal of fear of him, as mentioned repeatedly throughout the story. The next snippet that we’ve included from real life is Chris’s inability to consume an Irish Car Bomb (the adult beverage) without creating a sloppy disaster. Yes, I have literally seen remnants drip from his forehead after placing the empty glass on the bar top. More than once. Finally, this one should surprise no one, we have offended strippers. Again, by pure accident. Much like the story, we went to a club and we knew very well that we simply should not interact with the outside world or any of its denizens, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. Conversations were started and then somewhere along the way, we spoke and soured the mood. That’s our mutant super power – souring the mood through discourse. Now, we have yet to place the entire planet in peril by interacting with any lifeforms from outer space. That is pure fiction. Should there ever … oh, hey! Look at those blinking lights in the sky…

… Sorry. Just a firefly. Where was I? Oh, yes, I remember now. Another story that has quite a bit of autobiographical influence is “Jeff vs. The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys and Their Clones and the Alternate Universe Drunken Comic Book Monkeys with Little to No Help from Drunkenstein.” Just from seeing how needlessly long the title is, one could assume some real life spilled into this fiction. Throughout the book other versions of us pop up. We are cloned. Alternate dimension versions of us find their way into this world. And Jeff is stuck taking all six Drunken Comic Book Monkeys through a fast food drive thru. Hijinks ensue. Although there isn’t one specific thing that happened in the story that came from the real world, some of the arguments between the multiple Brians and the many Chrises are pretty spot on to actual discussions we’ve had. And, on more than one occasion, Jeff has taken toys from us because we were annoying him.

 

CHRIS SAYS:

Drunken Comic Book Monkeys? Never heard of them. And I never drank anything alcoholic during the making of any stories. And I’m not drinking anything alcoholic right now. But if I had an alter ego, he might be writing me into a story at this very moment and that could lead to some pretty heavy alcoholic consumption, so here we are.

In terms of The Drunken Comic Book Monkey stories, one of the things that Brian and I tried to do, in very different fashions, is maintain some sort of link to the original, beautiful stories that we went on to ruin. Oh, you certainly have some stories that are simply trope concerned, such as Vampires and Drunkenstein where we used some very familiar aspects of wonderful novels, because, well, short stories are, in fact, short. One doesn’t have a great deal of space to flesh out a detailed background, so we chose stories that mean a great deal to us, personally, but are also literary classics so that readers would already have a good sense of the background details. It’s for certain that we sullied both Dracula and Frankenstein with our efforts, but both are examples of us having fun touching something that clearly should have been off limits to us. Fortunately, we recognize no such barriers as “good taste.”

Another good example of the trope methodically destroyed was “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. Werewolves.” It’s a much less well known example of literary goodness, not to mention, a much less wordy example than Dracula or Frankenstein, but I have always found it to be constructed with equal care. Brian and I attempting to become werewolves ourselves goes against the very principle of every other take on the subject with which I am familiar, so, of course, that’s exactly what we had to do. And that led to some very interesting characterization (or is it technically half characterization and half personification?) of the main baddies. I still chuckle a little bit (when no one is listening, of course) when I read the story.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, are the stories where we tried to contain our mayhem within the confines of the original masterpiece. For example, the original Wendigo story in Scary Tales of Scariness was an attempt to pay homage to the story by Algernon Blackwood, containing several of the same themes and elements found therein. “The Island of Dr. Merlot” from Sciency Tales of Science Fiction also uses this same idea to some extent, except that the good doctor has no interest in vivisection, but instead focuses on viticulture. And in the story of “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs the Moon” one may find some similarity of theme and setting to Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Brian and I found it to be a great organizational tool, as well as providing us with the opportunity to write in a slightly different voice by using the classics in this fashion versus just playing with the tropes a little bit.

Oh, wait … a knock on the door … hello? No! I said “playing with the tropes!” Yes, we put them back when we were done! Excuse me … this could get messy …

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Deconstructing the Sci-Fi Novel, Part 1 – The Biggest Bounty

BRIAN SAYS:

Have you read The Biggest Bounty yet? If you would like to, you can grab a copy via this link here and then the rest of the blog entry will make sense. Now that you’ve read it I’m sure you noticed that it’s a swashbuckling science fiction with action, adventure, intrigue, milk, and a little bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. This is book 1 of the “Zeus and the Pink Flower” saga where the two protagonists had just recently met and started working together. Chris and I wanted to start at the beginning and follow these two throughout their careers. As such, there were two things he and I wanted to touch upon with this book.

One thing that always makes me roll my eyes is the “I know a guy” story-telling device. This plot device transcends genre, and can be found in television, movies, books, plays, comic books, and haiku. The protagonist has a minor mystery that needs to be solved to help further him or her along with the larger mystery. This minor mystery is solved by going to a character never mentioned before and then never mentioned again. I think what aggravates me the most about this device is how these characters know each other. Let’s say Character Protagonist has an item that he knows nothing about, so he takes it to I-Know-A-Guy for information about it. This kind of implies that two characters have different backgrounds, because if they had similar backgrounds then Character Protagonist would have a pretty good idea of what the item in question is. That also implies that I-Know-A-Guy has a different background than everyone in the supporting cast around Character Protagonist, or else one of the supporting characters would know what the item is. The story has now introduced another mystery of how Character Protagonist knows I-Know-A-Guy, a character with a completely different background than Character Protagonist and the supporting characters. They obviously have a past together, but something must have happened or else I-Know-A-Guy would be a member of the supporting cast. Suddenly, I find myself wanting to know that story far more than the story that has been presented to me. With the “Zeus and the Pink Flower” saga, Chris and I wanted to start at the beginning with Zeus and Fiore so we can tell the stories of how they met these helpful I-Know-A-Guys when they meet them later on as well as follow our protagonists through a much bigger story.

Over explaining. I just finished reading a techno-thriller about a virus capable of rewriting the genetic code of men. The author spent waaaaay too long explaining how viruses work, how those who study viruses work with them, and how his theories could work in the real world. It was so much information. I was born right around the Age of Aquarius and spent all of my teen years in the 80s with a remote control in my hand and a love of microwaves – instant gratification isn’t fast enough. I appreciated that the author had clearly done his homework, but with so many info dumps, I found it very easy to put the book down. I’m not saying that I would have been satisfied with a technowizard waving a magic keyboard and saying, “Because science,” as the only form of explanation, but I thought that over explaining was detrimental to the overall work. For The Biggest Bounty, Chris and I used technologies that we’ve all seen plenty of times before so we didn’t have to explain anything, let alone over explain. None of our technologies are new. We have laser guns and cybernetic body parts and handheld computers and jump-ports and flying cars. We know that science is an integral part of science-fiction, but we just didn’t want it to get in the way of the story.

CHRIS SAYS:

So, have we established that you have read The Biggest Bounty yet? The book was something of a departure from the comfortable feel of writing fantasy or horror for us. Clearly, this is not hard science fiction (quite on purpose). There’s often a clunkiness involved with starting a new project. It sets in somewhere between the half-conceived plot of the story and the outlining of the chapters. Brian and I were both nervous about the project, but decided that we wanted to push ourselves. Ultimately, we opted to add some swashbuckling to our science fiction, some humor to our seriousness, and some current world issues to our off-world adventure. And we can state our reasons in one word: familiarity.

We decided to add in elements with which we were familiar. Sure, it resulted in a hybrid genre of sorts, but our goal was to come up with something entertaining, not something that adhered to the rules … except that we both know one big detraction from a science fiction story, whether it’s hard science fiction or not – the writer may not know the science involved in a daring getaway or how to apply the Pythogorean Theorem to an alien spaceship for the purpose of maximum propulsion, but there’s always at least one reader who does! Moreover, there’s always at least one reader who knows the scientific failure and is more than willing to share it with thousands (ok! Since you are that reader with a mathematically gifted background, then read that word as “dozens”) of other readers. That is the imaginary line that neither Brian, nor I, wanted to cross. We both knew that no matter where this adventure took place and no matter where our characters roamed, it wasn’t going to happen because of our poorly constructed theory or space travel or time continuums or anything else of that nature. Simple. Straight forward. Easy does it. Like flipping a page. Until you get to The End…

 

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Deconstructing the Stories, Part 5

BRIAN SAYS:

A sequel. That’s what we needed, a sequel. Okay, I’m using the term “need” very liberally, but after we successfully put together The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness and The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness: Reflux Edition we decided to do a sequel. So, now what? Science fiction, of course! Thus, The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Sciencey Tales of Science Fiction was born. Obviously, we wanted to evolve, to do more with this book than just rehash the same jokes over and over again. One of the ways to do that was Jeff.

Even though each story in The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness had an antagonist – more times than not, Chris and I acted as our own antagonists – we felt that there was something missing by not having a more specific, overarching bad guy. Jeff fit into that role perfectly! As editor, Jeff has to wear many hats, especially when dealing with Chris and me. Sometimes he needs to wear many hats as disguises to hide from Chris and me. After reviewing our antics from the first book and the extended edition, we realized that Jeff has PLENTY of motivation to want to kill us.

Having Jeff as a villain (at least to our characters), it created a sense of continuity with the stories, and it retroactively fit with The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness. Even the stories without Jeff now had the feel that he could have been behind the scenes influencing the events. Ultimately, this idea led to one of my favorite stories in The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Sciencey Tales of Science Fiction — “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. Mad Scientists.”

Throughout both books, and the extended edition, Chris and I crossed paths with more than a few mad scientists and (usually by no fault of our own) thwart their plans. In “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. Mad Scientists” Jeff decides to act as the unifying factor, gathering the many disgruntled scientists to join forces for the singular purpose of destroying Chris and me. What makes this one of my favorite stories? Chris and I aren’t even in it. Yep, the influence of The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys is so great that we don’t even need to be in the story to affect its outcome. What about the goat, you may ask? Yep, he’s there, too!

 

CHRIS SAYS:

A sequel? Why in the name of anything that’s good, worthy, or even slightly wanted by anyone, would we do a sequel? I’m glad you asked! The most obvious answer is that we had so much fun with the first book. Throughout the writing process of the first book, our snickering and giggling about what we were doing was a contributing factor in waitresses asking us to leave more than one location of a well-known restaurant chain (but I digress…). More importantly, though, there were still things that we hadn’t tried and we were in agreement that we needed to try them.

In The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness we mostly stuck to tropes for a variety of reasons. Using a “type” of monster not only increased the chances of greater reader familiarity, but it allowed us to jump right into the story without needing much background for setup. Not to be vain, but we really did think these stories were about “us.” Since short fiction was one of the goals of the project, we saved word space through the trope technique.

In The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Sciencey Tales of Science Fiction, we wanted to break out of that mold a little bit. We considered for the first time some character re-occurrence, so it made sense to give them a slightly more specific background. As such, we created each story with the backdrop of a much more famous story in mind. This helped us with the organizational details of the stories and kept us directionally pointed towards a proper story “ending.”

It’s always difficult for me to pick a favorite from any of our collections. “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs The Center of the Earth” appeals to me because of the attempt to show the camaraderie that Brian and I share. Plus I just find the concept of fighting the center of the earth one that allows for a great deal of interpretation. “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs The Moon” is another story that really allows for a great range of writing freedom, conceptually, and it is based on one of my very favorite books of all time. Every story in this collection is a doppleganger of a much more famous piece of fiction. Take the challenge and see if you can guess them all!

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