Pulp Friction

Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain is not a funny book.  It IS a fun book, so I can see why people sometimes don’t get the difference.  We are constantly being told that there is serious stuff and funny stuff and rarely are they allowed to meet.  I realize, even as I dare suggest that a story about a space squid from Neptune and his battle against a disembodied evil brain isn’t just silly nonsense, that I am facing an uphill battle.  And I realize too that I’ve won over a lot of people who already come to this site on any regular basis.

You like me.  You really like me.

But of course, there are always those folks who might be dropping by for the first time, for whatever reason, and I’m here to tell them that Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain, despite the title, despite the premise, despite my reputation, and despite the tag line is not meant to be funny.  This is something I’ve written about before, and regular readers will probably be sick of it.  But I can no longer sit back and allow the perception to go unchallenged.  In a world where everyone’s opinion can be broadcast over the internet, a writer has to do a little preemptive strike of his own now and then.

To begin with, Emperor Mollusk is NOT a parody of pulp fantasy.  Nor is it a satire, farce, etc.  Nope.  It’s straight pulp fantasy.  It’s full of weird ideas and strange happenings, and these are all played perfectly straight.  They might (and often should) bring a smile to your lips because of their absurdity, but that doesn’t mean this is comedy.  It isn’t.  Or at least it wasn’t intended to be.

I’m reminded of my previous novel Chasing the Moon which I have mentioned before is intended to be a cosmic horror story.  It might not end with everyone going insane, and its monsters might be relatively human in their outlook.  But at its heart, it’s a story about human insignificance and of a grand, terrifying universe we can never truly understand.  I just chose to tell the story from a less traditional perspective.  And it’s true that there’s not much violence or gore in the novel.  But it’s also true that if you don’t read that novel with the slight dread of how unimportant you are and how vast and indifferent the universe is, then either you missed the point or I wasn’t clear enough.  Hey, I can take the blame.  I am the author.

It’s nothing new.  I’ve been dealing with it for a while. 

Divine Misfortune is, for me, an exploration of personal responsibility and the morality of great power.  To many folks, it’s just a silly little book about modern day gods (especially when placed to that other far more popular and critically acclaimed book about modern day gods). 

Monster is either a deconstruction of urban fantasy and a character portrait of a guy who is his own worst enemy.  Or it was just a silly little book about a guy who catches monsters for a living.

The Automatic Detective is about our inner nature versus our own desires to defy them and become a better person.  Or it’s just a silly little story about a robot who fights mutants.

You get the idea.

I feel a bit silly complaining about any of this.  This is inevitably a result of the way I choose to write and the stories I find appealing.  Even the medium I once loved so much (comic book superheroes) understands that you have to splash the pages with blood and tragedy if you’re to be taken seriously.  And I know that, no matter how well I state my case, there are those who will always consider me just a funny writer, and I’m lucky to have them as fans, so I don’t want to imply that I’m insulted by their support.  If they buy my books because they’re funny, I will happily thank them for being fans.

Seriously.  You guys are the best.  Every time I sit down to write this blog or my next story, I realize how fortunate I am.  And at the end of the day, it’s because you folks out there buy the books and spread the word.  You could live without my books.  But my books couldn’t live without you.

Rambling.  Let’s rap this up.

Emperor Mollusk is a story about the burdens of greatness, of being better, smarter, and just plain more awesome than everyone around you.  Emperor is a genius and a master of his universe.  He makes mistakes, sure, and because he is who he is, those mistakes can be awe-inspiring and terrifying.  But that’s his burden.  We all strive to be important, to be the best, to leave a lasting impression on this universe.  Emperor does that every time he makes breakfast.  It’s about the incredible power and loneliness, the isolation and frustration, that comes from being ruler of the world and master of the galaxy.  It’s about being your own worst enemy, about those fatal flaws that define us even though we should know better.

And, yes, it’s about mutant dinosaurs and giant fightin’ robots too.  These are also things I enjoy.  And if a story can be about the human condition and about stone men from Saturn, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

Whether or not the universe (and the audience) agrees is another matter entirely, but I’ve said my bit, offered my commentary.  The rest is out of my control.  Thanks for reading.  And I hope you pick up Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain on March 5th or Chasing the Moon (now out in mass market paperback).  Regardless of why you might enjoy them, I just hope that you do.

Did I mention it has giant fightin’ robots?

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,

Lee

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