Tim Taylor joins us here with one of his fascinations. One I happen to share.
It was a comic book writer who pointed out my fascination, an unconventionally shod fellow with long beard and a yellow frock coat called Alan Moore. He didn’t know it, of course. Alan was giving me polite words of encouragement, an established writer to a — ahem, slightly less established writer — as we waited behind the signing table for the launch of an anthology that included a novelette I had written.
Alan was a reminder of why I was writing Sci-Fi and fantasy; he was reminding me of why I started reading fantastic fiction when I was a boy.
Wind the clock back to February 1977. I’m seven years old and coming home with my family from a holiday. We’re tired and want to get home but we stop at a motorway service station for a break. There, in the WH Smith comic rack was something new: Prog1 of 2000AD.
The cover was bold and colourful and the back page showed a full-colour Dan Dare strip with a space farer crushed to a dot by the gravity of Jupiter. Wow!
“Mum! Can we buy 2000AD?”
And so a harassed mother bought me a comic book anthology crammed with energetic speculative fiction.
One of the attractions of 2000AD was Tharg’s Future Shocks, a regular slot for one-off stories. When years later I read short story collections of Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein and the other Golden Age greats, I realized that Tharg had shamelessly mined the previous fifty years of Sci-Fi short stories and turned them into his Future Shocks. You want a story where the only two survivors of a nuclear war are called Adam and Eve…? Yep, Tharg would happily serve up that cliché.
I’m forever grateful that he did, and given the target audience was 10-year-old boys, why would we know any better? Now Alan Moore was one of the Future Shock writers, and that’s how he got me thinking about why I write and publish what I do.
I loved the Volgan Wars too, which started in Prog1 as a story about a contemporary invasion of Britain, but grew many new strands over centuries of warfare, often involving robots such as Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein (much of the humour was lost on me as a child). Different stories over many years fed off each other and developed new ideas but fed from strands of this shared future history.
2000AD at that time was more than the sum of its stories. Tharg, the alien editor, would refer to the stories as if they were real. Cut-away diagrams on the back page would show the working of the Atlantic Wall from Judge Dredd or images of galactic groats currency. The cover page showed prices for Mercury and Jupiter.
That mix of classic short fiction with that interconnectedness, that sense of wonder at the big picture where the stories join up… that’s my fascination and why I write and publish both short stories and novel series and love them both.
Tim C Taylor.
Why not visit my blog at www.timctaylor.com, follow me on Twitter (@TimCTaylor) or see how I’m doing with my new publishing venture at www.greyhartpress.com. The book signing I mentioned was at the NewCon5 convention in 2010 for the bizarrely named anthology Shoes, Ships & Cadavers
They don’t come much stranger than Alan Moore. But, they certainly don’t come any more creative. The pages of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen alone are a wealth of inspiration – a Justice League of literature’s greatest characters in a technologically advanced Victorian era setting. It practically set off the Steampunk genre. The vast universe created as different storylines come together always had me enthralled. Whether it’s the Marvel Universe or Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton Family, relationships are what make great stories and it’s really cool when they go beyond the bounds of their own books.
Check out Tim’s sites and his work. And, please note that I refrained from making any Home Improvement jokes. It would be good manners if you did too. Thanks, Tim.