Here’s the final illustration for Osgood Finnegan’s (first) tale in The Lair of the Clockwork Book. It’s yet another laboratory, or a workshop, anyway, in a steampunk setting that predates my Future That Never Was by about two hundred years.
Click on the picture, and behold its relentless embiggification.
I’ll have to leave Osgood to his work in there. I’ve got about ten more illustrations to go before this Thrilling Tale can go live at the web site… then I’ve got perhaps a week of web site updates to do so that the site can support this non-interactive story, and at that same time I’ll make some other housekeeping changes that will make all the stories taste better to Google’s finicky palate, while also enhancing a couple of other things under the hood.
But all that’s grinding to a halt for a day or two. It looks like I have a Plumbing Adventure to take care of first. I’d call it an Emergency Plumbing Adventure, except that I can’t think of too many plumbing adventures that aren’t emergencies. That would be the kind I’d rather have, I think.
No one knows self interest like the Big Brain. Once you have that much self inside your massively enhanced cranium, well, there’s not always room for anything else.
So the Big Brain watches the calendar with great interest at this time of year: because when the days have ticked over… wait for it… to now, he knows that any perfect present he can conceive of would be doomed to spend the holidays in the Post Office.
Now, you see… the Big Brain’s time has come.
Now the Big Brain can buy a present for himself.
And I, being fully in support of that plan, am pleased to announce that from now through December 27 the Big Brain, by which I mean you, can save up to 20% on a T-shirt order of $25 or more from my Retropolis Transit Authority, Saga Shirts, and Hot Wax Tees sites.
There’s this complicated mathematical thing that happens when you use the coupon code 2010LOVE during checkout. Technically I think the discount could go as high as 25%, but that would only happen on a very large order, as far as I can tell. In the real world you can expect a discount of up to a fraction more than 20%. So that’s what I’m calling it: up to 20% off. You just have to enter the coupon code 2010LOVE when you’re checking out with an order of $25 or more.
Then… while you pack your minions’ stockings with tiny gifts of total destruction, you can smile quietly to yourself in the certain knowledge that it’s not just cookies and milk for you, Big Brain. Oh no. Muahahahaha, and so on.
So here’s some proof that I haven’t packed up and taken off for Tahiti. Or is it? I guess I could get Internet access there, now that I think of it.
But, no – really!- I’m here in the wintry seclusion of the Secret Laboratory where I’m still making progress on the first thirty or so illustrations for The Lair of the Clockwork Book. (Quick recap: once those first pictures are done the story will start its regular updates at the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site, while I get to work on Part Two of The Toaster With TWO BRAINS – until the Clockwork Book starts to run low on updates, at which point I’ll scurry back over to that project again.)
I’ve got over half of these first images done with just a handful to go until I’ve finished Osgood Finnegan’s story. Once that’s done I’ll be a lot closer to the story’s launch than it seems.
That’s because the remaining images – though there are quite a few – all take place in the Clockwork Book’s room. As I’ve mentioned before, things go much more quickly when I’m using the same location a bunch of times.
I doubt now that the story will start by the end of the year, as I’d planned. But I shouldn’t be late by too much.
Not to be outdone even by himself, the astounding Mister Doortree has posted a new collection of science fiction pulp magazine covers at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.
This time we see 49 covers from Startling Stories, spanning the years 1939 to 1955. And they’re wonderful.
The credited artists are Howard V. Brown, Earle Bergey, Rudolph Belarski, Alex Schomburg, Jack Coggins, Walter Popp, Ed Emshwiller, and Ed Valigursky. I was just looking at one of the Emshwiller covers yesterday, and found to my, well, startlement that he was also an early pioneer in computer graphics. It’s a small world, even when it has rampaging robots and sinister tentacles in it.
As, you know, it does.
[tags]pulp magazines, science fiction, cover, illustration, startling stories, Howard V. Brown, Earle Bergey, Rudolph Belarski, Alex Schomburg, Jack Coggins, Walter Popp, Ed Emshwiller, Ed Valigursky[/tags]
A little while back I actually ran out of signed copies of Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves – but now I’ve got another batch of ’em, so they’re available again at the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual web site. (The unsigned copies, I hasten to add, were always available and still are.)
I’m not sure that my signature means anything but you also get a pair of spiffy Thrilling Tales bookmarks.
And since we’re talking merchandising here (well… I am, anyway, and you’re doing whatever you’re doing while I do it), there’s also a splendiferous series of Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual T-shirts, not to mention the uncanny Thrilling Tales beverage containment devices, which themselves are totally eclipsed by the outright wonder of the Thrilling Tales posters and 2011 Wall Calendar.
Which is quite a lot of wonder, now that I think of it.
So while you wonder about that, I’ll let you know that the first tale in The Lair of the Clockwork Book has now got all its illustrations. I’m working on the second set, for something that I think is called Osgood Finnegan and the Orb from the Stars, or Osgood Finnegan and the Mysterious Stranger, or Osgood Finnegan and the Tale That Has Yet To Be Named.
Indecision’s an awful thing.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time building and texturing Osgood’s 19th century wagon, so I guess I should cram it into as many of the illustrations as possible. Though that would be cheating.
Oh, no: we’re not talking about laying out on the beach here, noses buried in the latest action-packed political thriller to bombard the airport bookshelves. Nope, here in the Secret Laboratory “holiday reading” means packing up the snow shovel and burrowing (physically) into a pile of warm anythings while burrowing (mentally) into a few hundred pages of Something Else. Holiday reading is serious business.
Though that doesn’t preclude comedy.
The Empire City (also known as Technotopia) of The Automatic Detective is a place in which the cheerful exuberance of the retro future all came true, sort of, in ways that were a bit unexpected. So, yes, we’ve all got a shot at a flying car, but in practice the gadabouts of Empire City are not exactly standardized and the many models are each plagued by niggling problems like, for example, the Buzzbugs: you’d call them ornithopters, except that their plastic wings and their beelike bodies are based on insects rather than birds. They’re a swell idea, but they have this habit of stalling, which is not your optimal behavior in a flying car. Opting out of the Buzzbug, you might try a Hoverskid, unless you were quick enough to ask yourself what the “Skid” part of their name was all about. In fact there’s only one model in all of Empire City that rolls on wheels, or more accurately, on wheel: that would be the Unipod.
Every one of these vehicles is fatally flawed in a unique and inventive way. And that tells you a lot about Empire City. The City’s a victim of almost random invention. Yesterday’s advances get recycled and today’s ill-advised replacements show up to crash, burn, mince, and mangle all over again. The question of why, exactly, that is, is rarely asked. Until we meet Mack Megaton.
Mack is not an automatic detective. Mack is a cab driver, although originally he was an unusual (and unusually dangerous) robot built by a mad scientist intent on (you guessed it!) dominating the world. For one reason or another, though, Mack decided that he’d rather not go in for world domination – which led to his creator’s imprisonment in a place I really, really wish I’d made up myself. It’s the Moriarty Asylum for the Criminally Inventive.
Mack is better now. He’s in therapy. But folks are still just a little bit worried about what would happen if his original programming were to kick back in.
And that’s where we begin. The Automatic Detective invites us on a hard boiled adventure through this dysfunctional World of Tomorrow where we meet all sorts of characters we didn’t quite meet in Raymond Chandler’s stories – like Jung, the intelligent gorilla, who’s Mack’s best friend, and like small, green and sinister scientists, and like Lucia: a swell dame, maybe. And, you know, maybe not.
The real journey here is Mack’s passage toward something like humanity. The story’s propelled by his decision at the beginning to break into a domestic disturbance at his neighbor’s apartment and that, as mundane as it sounds, is the first step in both the mystery of what the heck made Empire City what it is, and Mack’s growth as a sentient, if mechanical, being.
An Automatic Detective, in fact. Just picture Philip Marlowe. But paint him red, add few hundred pounds of near-indestructible shell, and don’t forget a buried inner drive to Destroy All Humans.