Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tangible Progress, by Edmund R. Schubert

For several years now I’ve been turning over in my mind an idea: a mythical race of people who trace their origins back to ancient Rome tangible-progressand even beyond, to Rome’s founding legend of Romulus and Remus. These people are werewolf hunters, cursed by the Roman gods. Under this curse they will find their tangibility waxing and waning with the moon, until they have hunted and killed every last werewolf. That is the big idea. I think it has the potential to be a series of novels.

Of course, a series of novels will take years to write, and I wanted (needed, really) to start smaller, exploring these people and their lives, so I’ve begun writing several short stories set at different points in time. “Tangible Progress” is the first of these. I’m also working on one set in modern New York City, with some subtle but not unimportant difference. We’ll see which, if any of them, strike a chord with readers.

Regardless of the specifics, I also knew I wanted to start with the people, the Rem’n, but without the added baggage of werewolves. Werewolves are everywhere and, frankly, of limited interest to me. We’ve all seen plenty of werewolves during recent years, along with plenty of vampires and zombies. Even the first idea I had for writing about these people that was big enough to be a novel was actually set after the last werewolf had been killed. It seems odd, I know, even extreme, but I was fascinated by the idea of a werewolf-hunting people far more so that by the werewolves themselves.

As for Gabrielle and the gang in “Tangible Progress,” it took many tangible-progressdrafts and help from several people (including but not limited to key input from Brad Beaulieu, Faith Hunter, and Scott Roberts) to get to a final draft. It was also balancing act of weaving in the necessary information about this race of werewolf hunters (that readers had never seen or heard of before), along with an actual story with a narrative arc and characters with their own agendas. Whether I’ve succeeded in that or not is up to the reader, but without Faith, Scott, and Brad’s help, this first story would only have been worse, not better.

I chose to set the story during the Great Depression because in addition to taking the werewolves out of the story, I also wanted to take the technology out of the story. I’m not sure that I can fully articulate why I wanted to do that, only that my instinct was to focus things as much as possible on people and nothing else. I suspect, however, that the time period is one I will revisit, regardless of which aspects of the mythology I am creating I choose to keep and which I choose to jettison. 1938 in particular is a year that intrigues me. So much happened that year, from the first Superman comic book and H.G. Wells radio “War of the Worlds” broadcast hoax, to Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II.

tangible-progressAs for the individual characters in “Tangible Progress,” I hadn’t originally intended to revisit them after I started finished this particular short story, but having now spent time with the Rem’n children Gabrielle and Dianna and Celia, as well as her parents, tribal elders, and the some of the humans they encounter, I can easily see their story expanded and continued (though their story in IGMS is entirely self-contained). I particularly like Gabrielle’s independence of thought, even as she recognizes in the end her dependence on the Rem’n around her.

On a much broader note, I also feel compelled to mention that although I am the editor of IGMS, I have not and never have, selected my own work for inclusion in the magazine. I’m not delusional enough to claim that my role here doesn’t play a part in getting published in our digital pages, but any time I have a story that I’d like to see published, it goes first to our managing editor, who them passes it along to Uncle Orson. I’m comfortable saying that if he didn’t think that the story was good enough, he would at least send me some notes and say “Fix this up before you embarrass us all.” ;-)

So that’s the story behind my story. I’m hoping there will be many more, but first and foremost, I hope you enjoy this one all by itself. It has quite a load to carry, bearing the weight of this writer’s hopes and dreams for many future projects.

-Edmund R. Schubert

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