I'm not the sort who stays up until midnight so that I can get an early jump on National Novel Writer's Month. I've done this a number of years and I'm quite confident in my ability to keep up the pace with my writing, so I'm very content to write starting in the daytime after a good night's sleep.
This year NaNoWriMo found me in the middle of a long, possibly novella-length Grandpa Anarchy story. I had been planning to write more stories about the companions that Kid Anarchy fought with in the 1920's, and I wanted at least one of these stories to be set in outer space. Originally I was planning to write a story based on a Pulp-O-Meter title, Secrets of the Shrieking Forrest, which I envisioned as an adventure on another world with Lady Prometheus and Elias Nova. But checking my timeline, Elias Nova was born in 1923, while Lady Prometheus worked with Kid Anarchy from 1920 to 1921.
I decided instead to write a story involving Dr. Thomas Nova (father of Elias) and to set it in 1922, a year before the birth of Elias. This meant that the companion at the time was Machine Gun Molly, someone I hadn't written about yet. I also had a sudden strong desire to tell a brain-swap / body-snatcher story in the mold of Edgar Rice Burrough's A Mastermind of Mars, possibly the first story of that sort I evere read, and one of the earliest in the genre in any case. I dug out my copy and started rereading it, but when I got around to writing my story, quite a lot of what I came up with was nothing like the Burroughs novel.
I made decisions based on wanting to tweak or play with the idea that aliens could look just like humans -- and not only that, but like European Caucasian men. You know, what kind of story would Superman have been if he were more African or Asian? Suppose a brilliant inventor builds a starship in 1910, travels to another star (we'll just say the closes to earth, Proxima Centauri), and he finds aliens that can pass for human -- but of African descent? That sounded like a fun twist.
I built up my story, adding in a brother of Machine Gun Molly, and a cripped boy who was the neighbor of Dr. Nova and was going to recieve a new, healthy body. That's the purpose of the trip -- Dr. Nova has been to this planet once before and now has a much faster ship and a reason to go back.
I called this story The Bodysnatchers of Io at first, then came up with names for the planets they were visiting and renamed it The Bodysnatchers of Yan, but for some reason it was a planet called Ator where the bodysnatching happened, so I eventually renamed it again to The Bodysnatchers of Ator. I kind of like Yan for the title more, but I was too lazy to go through the entire story swapping the names of the two planets.
I wrote a lot of half-scenes and bits of dialog as I fleshed out my idea and developed a plot, and by the time I was done I had a first scene mostly written, but a lot of incomplete and partial scenes after that. Still, it was over 16,000 words, and probably less than half done.
I was going to try and get this story finished before NaNoWriMo but I failed the write anything most of the last five days of October. So on November 1st I made note of how much was written on the story, and I set about writing the second scene.
I did a lot of research on starships of the 1920's. There is a lot of art from the 20's and 30's so I created a Pinterest Pin named Starship 1920 and added anything I could find to it that seemed to fit. I found more stuff searching for Steampunk starships and Steampunk blasters than I did trying to search for 1920's starships, but eventually I had a nice selection of stuff to look at as needed. I downloaded E.E. Doc Smith's Galactic Patrol, since it was one of the earliest stories I could think of that definitely had starships in it. I was curious how he would describe them.
Finally I committed a few lines to describing the ship as it landed at the alien planet, and proceeded to write about 1,000 words of the second scene. I wanted this to be a classic rocket ship like people envisioned back then -- sleek, with wide fins that it would rest on when it landed. I had fun with a description of the interior of the ship as well -- what would someone in the 1920's consider futuristic and modern? Lots of brass dials and switches and levers, flashing lights, maybe space sonar, leather seats, inlaid wood dashboard. Rivets and shiny steel. Very modern indeed!
I'm not necessarily convinced that this story is worth writing at this point, but I'm going to have as much fun with it as I can. If I finish, there's always Oz on the Half Shell to complete, and even World of Hero if I can get to it.
For now, I'm a bit behind thanks to wasting so much time researching things like what a 1920's starship should look like, and when were words like robot and cyborg first used. But I can catch up quickly. I'm planning to keep a journal here of how my NaNoWriMo challenge progresses -- and I'm not even counting any of this writing in my NaNoWriMo total. ^_^
"Ator is also where I learned about body swapping," said the scientist. "There are shops where you can peruse a selection of human and alien bodies and, once you've paid for your selection, your brain is removed and placed within the new body. It's an ingenious operation, unlike anything possible on earth, or even by most races within the empire. Only the Shoyuengo are able to manage it -- weird alien creatures, blue and green and purple, with dozens of thin, octopus-like tentacles with which they perform the most delicate of surgeries. Every body shop has a family of them in their employ, and it's said that theirs is one of the richest species in the galaxy."I befriended the owner of one such shop. His name is Ancel Arratamok, and his shop is called Body By Design. He likes to give to charity and help out people in need. One thing that he does is give out flesh and blood bodies to those who need them, in exchange for for a month's work for him and his shop. He said he would donate a body for my friend Jason here, if I helped him with the body snatchers.""Body snatchers?" Kid Anarchy asked."Indeed! They're a big problem on Ator. They remove your brain and place it in a box that allows for vision, sound and voice, and will keep you alive for up to thirty days. Then they make off with your brainless body to sell on the black market.""It's come to something when not even your body is safe from being stolen," Kid Anarchy said."The cost for a young, healthy body can be quite high," said Dr. Nova, "multiple times the average yearly salary, so I'm told. I could never afford one. That's why Ancel's offer is so generous. Of course, he promises only one of the cheapest bodies in his shop, but still -- I had to take advantage of it.""And you invited Kid Anarchy and I along for extra muscle," Molly said. "Makes sense." She cocked her tommy gun and added, "Don't you worry, Doc -- Kid Anarchy and I will bust those fluky gimlets in no time flat, just like we broke up that woofy Vizinni gang! Am I right?""Danged straight," Kid Anarchy replied. "You point us at them, Doc, and we'll mow 'em down."