CREATING A UNIVERSE (it takes a lot more than seven days)

James R. Tuck
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As a writer and as a human I must admit, I am a bit of an egotist. Occasionally I swerve over to arrogant assdom, but mostly I reel it in and keep it entertaining.

But often, like the slip of the drunk cousin at the church social, my ego shows in my writing for the world to see.

You see, all my stories are set in the same universe, some more obviously than others, but all of them there. I don’t have a name for it, though I’m leaning toward the Spiralverse.

The Spiralverse is a universe built on the concept that major events cause a resonance that splits reality into a new timeline placed on a new earth. They are all interconnected and separate at the same time. Now this isn’t anything new. It’s been done a hundred million ways. Almost every comic book publisher has one shared universe for their superheroes. Stephen King is famous for dropping things from one book into another to show an inter-connectivity in the Kingverse. Brian Keene does it with his Labyrinth Mythos. The most famous example would be Lovecraft and his Mythos books, a concept so awesome that hundreds of other writers have played in that universe (including me in my current WIP).

You also see it in television on shows like Fringe.

Tarantino does it in all his movies.

(Here’s a Cracked.com article about it and others. CLICK FOR ARTICLE)

I started developing my Spiralverse (The Spiral Mythos? Hmmmmmm) in my first sold series, the Deacon Chalk books. Those are all set in a portion of this universe called the Deaconverse (I know, not the most creative, but I do like the sound of it) Well, in the newest book (BLOOD AND MAGICK) I blew open the concept of a larger, alternate-reality universe existing. This will be dealt with directly in Books 4-6. Here’s a small (rough, first drafty) snippet that gives you the rundown. It’s the main character Deacon talking to one of the Labcoats who work for the OCID. (and if that sentence made no sense to you then you NEED to read book 3)

      The timeline looked like it’d been drawn by a drunk third-grader.

     “You’re not an artist are you Doc?”

     “No. I’m a theoretical physicist and a chaos mathematician with a minor in arcane studies.”

      “You’re the smart guy who thinks about shit that isn’t real?”

      “I guess you could phrase it that way.” He blinked. “If you had to.”

      “Just so we’re on the same page.”

       The Labcoat moved around the board, ignoring where his white coat smeared across the black semi-permanent marker written there. “Time is a straight line from the perspective of the person participating in it. We go from cradle to grave and never is that interrupted. However, everyone else in time is also going on their straight line but these lines are not laid side by side in a row, they cross and join and bend over each other, intersections of life tangling in a knot.”

      I nodded. “Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey. I’m familiar.”

     He blinked. “I don’t know what that is.”

     “Then I’m sad for you.” I made a point to look at my watch. “Could we move this along, Doc? There’s shit out there I need to get on with killing.”

      Thin, pale fingers adjusted his glasses into place. “Okay, moving on. What we have learned since the trans-dimensional portal, the Rift have you, is that certain events cause a string of time or a series of strings to fray, sending a whole new string in an entirely new direction.” He was scribbling on the board, turning his crude drawing of a timeline into something that looked like a diagram of a sentence written by a crazy person with Tourette Syndrome. Lines angled off, branching and filling the board in a staggered, drunken mess. It began hurting my eyes and damn sure offending my artistic sensibility.

      “Doc, stop.”

       The chalk froze in mid-skritch.

      “I get it. You’re talking basic DC Universe. Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-K . . . Earth Whatever.” I waved my hand. “Skip the set up and tell me you have a way of finding out what we need to know.”

       “I do. All ‘magick’ is just energy. I can read the energy in his source string and find its equivalent here.”

        I stood up. “Alright. Do that then and find us a bad guy.”

 

So, here are some of the things you will find in common  throughout all the variation of the universes I write in.

Bento Box (a drive thru sushi joint)

Big Ass Burgers (Home of the Double Pounder where you don’t supersize it, you Big Ass it. “I’ll take a Double Pounder combo with Coke and Big Ass it.”)

Polecats (Strip club/Bikini Bar)

Black Dragon Bourbon

Tenpenny Nail Cigarettes

and Omniarch (a mega-corporation that may or may not be evil depending on which version of the Spiralverse you are in.)

Plus there is interconnectivity among the worlds. Deacon is the one I have most explored, but in the sword and sorcery work I’ve written (Two stories appear in THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD Vol 1 &2 out in June, edited by yours truly) I don’t make it clear but Theok, the main character, is a forefather of Deacon.

In my current WIP the main character gets a call from that world’s version of the OCID.

Now some stories you never really see the interconnectivity, some you will see later on as I write more. For example, somewhere a character will be reading a Sovereign comic book which is the main character in my short story that appears in The Big Bad anthology out next month and edited by our very own John Hartness. Some of this has impact on the story itself and some of it is just cool little easter eggs for my Loyals and True Believers who read all my work.

It’s fun and it adds a new layer of excitement on my part as a writer, thinking of places to work in different little things inspires me while writing. I highly suggest it as a concept to look into as it, at least for me, has opened new pathways of creativity and anything that can do that I am all for.

PS: If you would like to do a little nod to my stuff in your work then drop me an email. We can discuss and as long as it’s not my copyrighted material (ie: I don’t mind if you have a character go to Polecats or run through the drive thru at Big Ass Burgers, but you can’t just have Deacon or Theok do things in your world. You can have someone in your work see Deacon on a newspaper or go see a Deacon movie or read a Deacon comic book, but he can’t join in on your adventure)  then I bet I give permission gladly.  Lovecraft did it and his name is legendary, far beyond his ability to write or his output as an author.

Sorry this got a bit rambly, but I missed my last time to post and was late as heckall the time before and it’s a bit of an amorphous concept that requires a bit of the ramble in my scramble.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. :)

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11 comments to CREATING A UNIVERSE (it takes a lot more than seven days)

  • kwlee

    I like the name Spiralverse. I think it’s catchy.

    I also admit that the idea of a universe where all my favorite characters reside together brings out the fanboy in me. I remember as boy, sitting around with my dorky friends and saying things like “Dood! Wouldn’t it totally be cool if like… Wolverine got into a fight with the Hulk. Who do you think would win?” BTW, I was on the big green guy’s side, but my friends always beat me up for it.

    Now that I’m older, I feel like I enjoy the more subtle approach to the single-universe idea. More “Did you catch that reference?” than “Wow! Super-protagonist from this other book has joined the story!”. For instance, while not exactly subtle, I was dancing little-boy steps of joy when I was reading one of Simon R. Green’s Nightside books, and there was a passing cameo of Hawk and Fisher — a series I read of his as a teen.

    Anyways, love it when I can catch the author’s little wink.

  • Wrote something a while back I titled, My Godlike power to create that this reminded me of:
    *Through my hands, worlds are born. Heroes arise and villains fall. Life and death are at my fingertips, damnation and salvation. Heaven and Hell, the forces of nature, armies, kingdoms, mine to command. People live, love, and die at my whim, and all for an audience, the reader, without which these godlike powers of creation would be for naught.*

    Within some of my works, there are some connections, but not all. I did have a novel I was working on that I set aside for another project until I could better wrap my head around it that had a multi-dimension backdrop, but it wasn’t yet known by the MC. Others could easily be connected somehow, but I haven’t really tried to connect them.

    And I could see Black Dragon Bourbon making having the possibility of an appearance in my noir. ;)

  • “making having?” Ugh… Didn’t think I was THAT tired today. CALGON! TAKE ME AWAY!

  • I love nods and easter eggs in books. I put them in mine. Not just to my own work but things that influenced me too. Not as any type of claim on them but to say thank you to their creators.

    Daniel- Fell free to have someone pour up a shot of Black Dragon Bourbon. It’s stout stuff distilled in the heart of Wyrmwood, Ky. just outside of Harlan County.

  • Hepseba ALHH

    And, just in case someone here hasn’t seen this yet:
    http://www.lolroflmao.com/2011/08/03/use-the-force-harry-gandalf/

    The extreme-mash combo that either leads to delightful comedy or head explosions.

  • I adore Deacon. He is so badass.

    I am planning a spin-off or two in Jane Yellowrock’s world at some point, but I plan on keeping it linear. Not because I am against spirals but because I hate getting lost in my own worlds. I love reading them though!

  • It’s not nearly as planned out as I make it sound. More like….Oh Deacon is drinking bourbon, why not make it Black Dragon Bourbon…the main protag in my sci fi nanite smuggling crime novel is taking a shot of something, why not make it Black Dragon Bourbon too.

  • Razziecat

    Is it bad that I really want to try those Big Ass Burgers? ;)

  • This is a really cool idea and it’s something I’ve considered doing. I absolutely *love* Easter Eggs. Whether it’s just a boy band I came up with, or the name of a made-up hotel chain. I even one day want to nod to a friend’s SF webcomic about a spacefaring turtle, mentioning that story’s main character in plushie form as a kid’s toy. I even had the thought of, “How could the worlds I’ve come up with exist in parallel worlds with one another, or is it feasible for these things to actually happen in the same universe?” But even just having some commonalities for the background details (e.g. made-up celebrities and brand names) is fun. :) I totally squee at this sort of thing and “spiralverse” sounds delightful.

  • Razzlecat- I totally want to eat at Big Ass Burgers too!!!!! I want the Fat Elvis Double Pounder with two full pound patties, peanut butter, bacon, and bannanas Big Assed with onion rings and a Dr. Pepper.
    LOL

  • Laura- Thanks for the compliment on Spiralverse.