Outlaw sci-fi: Effugium Influences part two

Recently I posted about things that have influenced me throughout my life and either consciously or unconsciously manifested some sort of presence in Effugium.

Here, then, are some more influences that didn’t even occur to me until after I made that original post:

Yul Brynner’s murderous cowboy robot from Westworld is the original Terminator. This movie, as well as its sequel, Futureworld, sparked my imagination as a kid and made me want to write about robot uprisings. When Nar comes after Tramn and Caldo in the cave at the end, I realize now that I was totally trying to convey the same sense of Menace that had me on the edge of my seat when Yul Brynner was coldly stalking tourists.

How could I forget to mention Terminator? Especially T2? The idea of humanity as a whole being wiped out by its own creations has always fascinated me. In the case of Effugium, they aren’t technically “wiped out,” because they’ve been uploaded into new bodies, but one could argue that they are, in fact, dead and that the robots with their faces and personalities are gross parodies. That’s touched on a little more in Exsilium.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a creepyass movie, and I’m sure the alien seed pods had some subconscious influence on TREE.

Logan’s run has always been one of my favorite sci-fi movies, and I’ve been visited some of the shooting locations, such as the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

The film is so ’70s, and I love that aesthetic. It’s not at all a similar story to Effugium, but the vibe is strong and present.

The Harry Potter books are, to me, modern-day classics on par with the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. Yeah, I said it. And I’ll say this: I’m not likely to ever read LOTR again. Once was enough for me. But I’ll read HP again, especially my favorite one, which is pictured above. Rarely has a book come to life for me as that one did. I bought it at midnight and sat in my car, in a thunderstorm, unable to put it down for at least an hour. It was magical.

I had Harry Potter in the back of my mind while writing Effugium, because I was setting out to hook readers across the board. I wasn’t targeting a sci-fi audience. I wanted to write something that transcended genre and had broad appeal.

At one point I wanted to write some kind of space academy book similar in structure And tone to Harry Potter, but then I remembered this existed:

Another huge influence, there.

And here’s another:

And another one I hadn’t really thought of until after the fact:

Almost-human creepy androids? That’s terrifying. And fun.

Spock’s half-brother Sybok from the much-maligned Star Trek V: the final frontier is a huge influence on Kryuss. The idea of a space cult traveling across the galaxy to meet its maker has always intrigued me, even if the movie is seriously flawed. I still love it, despite it problems.

Sure, Battlefield Earth is goofy and over-the-top, but I see it as pure pulp fun.

Huck Finn is a book I read as a kid. For a brief period, it was the target of misguided ’80s-’90s PC backlash for its copious use of a noxious racial epithet. I, as a child, understood what Twain was doing. He was exposing the ugliness of racism and refusing to sugarcoat it. It’s since been vindicated, I think, in the court of public opinion, which shows that at least some thoughtful sense of discernment still exists in the world. One can depict something without advocating it. Depiction is actually a requirement that needs to be met in order for something to be decried. In order to be defeated, evil must first be exposed.

Anyway, the idea of taking journeys through the wilderness–be it by boat, on foot, whatever–has always been a source of fascination for me. It’s always sparked my imagination. Huck Finn certainly influenced Effugium, in that sense.

Everything I write is influenced by The Twilight Zone. Everything. It’s my favorite show of all time, and has been since I discovered it late one night in 1989 at the age of 13.

Rod Serling was an outlaw. He wrote powerfully subversive stories whose message sailed right over the heads of people too dense to get the subtext. They still loved it though, because the stories were compelling even on a surface level. That’s what I do when I write sci-fi. I sneak things in and disguise them as something else. I do that a lot in Effugium, and I don’t make it obvious. I also lead you to believe that I’m espousing one thing before doing a complete 180 and condemning said thing. There is a single message, though. Make no mistake.

Effugium is a bunch of TZ episodes strung together by a narrator. I can’t help that and I wouldn’t want to. Serling had vision and heart, and his work was genuine and sincere. So’s mine. Serling, Douglas Adams, Mark Twain and Stephen King are my biggest literary/writer influences on Effugium.

Stephen King???

Abso-fuckin’-lutely Stephen King. The man wrote books that appealed to edgy goth kids and upper middle class housewives alike back in the ’80s. He told big stories in plain language and his “blueprint” is one I’ve always emulated in my writing. His dialogue and narrative flow so smoothly alongside the inner thoughts of the characters, and everything he writes is distinctly him. He writes dialogue like people talk. He sells millions of books to all kinds of people. Some hate him. He doesn’t care. He’s a rockstar. I want that, and I know that Effugium is most definitely not what’s going to take me there, but when I am there, it’ll be there for people to go back and check out and get into.

I never set out to write status quo science fiction that checks off a bunch of boxes in some nitpicker genre snob’s head. Couldn’t do it because my heart wouldn’t be in it. Effugium is more like “What kind of book would I have wanted to read when I was 14 that I would appreciate on another level at 21, and yet another at 42?”

I very rarely read new sci-fi novels. I read the short stories in mags like Asimov’s and Analog, online publications, indie writers, etc. Keep my finger on the pulse and all that, but I don’t care for sci-fi’s pretentiousness or its tendency to gatekeep. Never have. All I can be is me, and I don’t fit in anywhere, so why should sci-fi be an exception? Why try? That’s no fun. I’d rather be an outlaw, like Harlan Ellison. People told him he wasn’t about shit, but he showed them, didn’t he?

Asimov felt any story could be told within the context of science fiction, and that’s why he wrote the Caves of Steel, if my info is correct. It’s a detective story with robots. I read it when I was a kid.

Bottom line, Effugium has space travel and robots, so I call it sci-fi. To me, the designation is a big whatever. I write cinematically, expressing big ideas from with tiny perspectives. How would people act towards each other in this or that situation, y’know?

Last but not least:

You can’t talk about outlaw writers without mentioning Ray Bradbury. Rah Bradbury is a massive influence on everything I write. These are the people I look up to most: Bradbury, King, Rod Serling, Ellison and the like, because they did what they wanted to do, and naysayers be damned. Those are the types of people who humble me, who I take advice from–not Joe Schmo NaNoWriMo(fuck, that’s such a hassle to type out) on Twitter slinging all this bullcorn advice like some wizened literary sage. Not some whitey whiterson academic who believes following certain formulas is the only way to be a real author. Or people who think the greats I revere can’t be matched or bested. That’s called stagnation, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who is to say someone from 2019 can’t be the new Poe, so to speak? Not literally, but tied for significance. Why not? Why can’t there be a Mark Twain? They tell you to not even strive for that, because it’s impossible. Well, I’m gonna try my best to prove you wrong. How ’bout that?

I’d be a liar if I said Star Wars didn’t influence Effugium. I mean, duh. The first movie could stand on its own had no other Star Wars ever been made. It’s a rich, colorful tapestry of pure adventure, of good vs evil, of epic duels and battles, of exciting, beautiful and dangerous places. That’s all in Effugium, but George borrowed all that stuff from elsewhere as well and made it his own thing.

One last one:

I mean, come on.



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