Hello again, stalwart and brave readers! Welcome to the second part of the Pine Float Press Slow Boat to Fast City blogstravaganza. Ugh. Blogstravaganza? Horrible word.
In this installment, I asked each of the contributors to the anthology to tell me a little bit about why they chose to write about what they did. Sean’s submission call was high-concept–Martian Chronicles, raygun pulp, red dust…but within those suggestions, each of us had a lot of room to work.
War Paint–My contribution.
Nance hasn’t been herself lately. The dime-a-dance girl and pride of the steno pool has been having visions. Visions of coal-black eyes and things in the darkness, visions of blood and conquest. Whispers to wait. Wait.
For me, I chose to write War Paint because I couldn’t help but think about all the normal, work-a-day folks just keeping the machine running–dockhands, engineers, enlisted grunts, and yes–tired saloon girls working a slow boat’s voyage away in this strange and alien world. I loved the idea of the very world itself slowly, quietly enveloping the interlopers…hive minds that ease their poisons through human pores, and even slower, almost dreamy changes that cloud the mind gently–a darkening of the light in that corner, or a skitter just out of a showgirl’s line of vision. And when the usurping is complete, the usurped doesn’t know–or care–what hit her. This was fantastic, fun project and I can’t wait to write more.
Marshall Edwards, author of Patton Sea Raiders
A man without a country. A mysterious package. “The Patton Sea Raiders” paints a picture of a ramshackle space-age Mars where answers are the only thing more dangerous than questions.
When Sean pitched “Slow Boat to Fast City”, I was already familiar with his world-building chops. Last year I wrote a story about a high-tech vigilante in his “gasping Rust Belt city” setting. The setting was engaging and Sean was pleased with my piece, so signing on with “Slow Boat” was a no-brainer!
I was listening to Edgar Rice Borroughs’ John Carter series for the first time when Sean told me about the project. I started painting my Mars in rust-red crags, yellow-red dust, cigarette smoke, and the blue-black bands of night. I used Sean’s jazzy noir hook to get me rolling and merged his post-war pulp with just a dash of Burrows’ mythology. I wrote the first scene first – a road-weary protagonist, a MacGuffin, and a shakedown in a shady little bar. Once the setting was laid out and the story began, I just had to ride it through to the end.
Orrin Grey, author of The House of Mars
Police find three bodies in an abandoned house in the Hollywood Hills. One wakes up. Straddling the boundary between dream and nightmare, fantasy and reality, “The House of Mars” tells the story of one burned-out detective’s investigation into a mystery that transcends time and space. Police find three bodies in an abandoned house in the Hollywood Hills. One wakes up. That’s just the beginning.
Being asked to contribute to Slow Boat was outside of my comfort zone, both in that it was a shared-world anthology, which I’d never done, and a lot more science fictional than is my usual beat. But I’ve always been a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars stories, and I wanted to play with something in that vein, while still keeping with the noir tone that the anthology was going for, and also not writing something that would be completely out of place alongside the rest of my fiction. The result was my Burroughs-by-way-of-L.A. Confidential story, “The House of Mars,” which also managed to bring in some Golden Age Hollywood, because that’s my jam.
Steven Saunders, author of Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle
Jens Vogt is a cold warrior on a hot planet, a holdout raised from childhood to wage a Venusian guerrilla war against the Allies for the glory of the Reich. Follow Jens as he fights against the alien predators of Venus in the first chapter of Steven G. Saunders’ upcoming novella
I have been friends with Sean for a long, long time. Several years, at least. More than that, probably. We started talking in earnest way back during my year on All The Rage (*waves to the few angry comic nerds who remember me*) and have had a pretty solid friendship since. I love working with Sean on things, so when he mentioned this Buck Rogers meets Barsoom meets Raygun Gothic anthology, I just had to jump on. I felt honored that Sean would ask me to be a part of such a mindblowing pool of talent. A pool of talent that ensures my contribution is the weakest of the lot– hey, I might be serious! Thing is, everyone on this anthology has been awesome, and the whole experience worth savoring every second of. Naturally, I had to go against the grain and set my story in the jungles of alt-1958’s Venus, complete with Viet Cong-like Nazis and frog people. But Sean was a mensch about the whole idea and told me to run with it, and Jens and his story was born.
Inspirationally, I grew up in Germany, for starters. As an American living in a village full of WWII vets and civilians from that time, and considering it was near where the Battle of Aachen and more happened, a lot of history and the German perspective was pumped into me. Shit, this is a slippery slope without explaining, but don’t worry, I hate the Nazis. It doesn’t mean they can’t be protagonists in a story, though, especially young, foolish, myopically skewed youngsters who are jungle fighting the long-ago enemies of the Reich on Venus. I honestly don’t know why I wanted to write “Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle”, especially with a German title, complete with umlauts! But Sean had faith in me to expand on one corner of his universe-baby that no one was touching yet (aside from a few notes Sean gave me). If you’re curious, the title literally translates to “Green Kingdom, Green Hell”, which I assume makes a lot more sense once you dive into the tale. With the main characters, Jens Vogt and Schneider, we get action, adventure, and the requisite disillusionment we would expect from a young man and woman fighting in the verdant, sweltering death jungles of our sister world.
Other inspirations included the wars in Indochina (including, of course, the Vietnam War), the Germans in World War I (including their actions and colonies in Asia and Africa), the original idea behind a certain frogish people in a popular “grimdark” RPG/Wargame setting/s, Arthur Machen, “Dispatches”, Sean’s notes, and more. It really was a blast to work on, and I look forward to seeing what people think of the other stories brewing and fulminating in my brain and exiting violently upon the page where Jens et al are concerned. Should be a fun ride.
Oh, and before I forget, I also was inspired to write a soundtrack for the book. I largely blame Sean (as one does) and his Big Idea was so great, and seeing what the other lovely contributors were doing, I simply couldn’t help myself. It’s a weird mix of fusion jazz, retro future, odd disco, analog noises, somber piano, and lots more. Hopefully no one hates, and hey, maybe some of you out there will actually like it.
Grüne Reich, Grüne Hölle: Epub
Thanks for reading, all–and remember, you can buy Slow Boat to Fast City starting today in Epub and both retail and Lulu paperbacks–you won’t regret it. No, really. YOU WON’T. It’s forbidden to regret. Regretting has…consequences.