So I did a new trick that’s being published in June 2022: writing prose fiction. It’s kind of funny that I never turned my hand to that in decades of writing, but I started off with non-fiction then drifted to comics, and unlike many of my peers in Frank McCourt’s English classes, I never had the driving urge to be a prose fiction writer. I love the form. Laziness maybe? I dunno. I have come to the conclusion in the last couple of years that my system is that of an assignment guy: when an editor comes to me with “Can you write….” I leap up like the firehouse pooch hearing the alarm bell, but left to my own devices, my initiative is far weaker.
So this started with my pal Barry Lyga (a Legion fan, former Diamond staffer, and accomplished novelist and graphic novelist) told me he was putting together an anthology of short stories themed around young people with extraordinary powers and invited me to participate, it hit all my buttons. In tune with the ridiculous luck that has been so much of my professional life, I had sold my first short story before I wrote it.
GENERATION WONDER turned out to be a fun volume, with a wide range of writers including many more experienced at the prose format than I am, and lavishly illustrated by my old collaborator Colleen Doran, who continues to blossom with new styles and approaches to her art. My story, “Bumped!”, is the last in the volume and I tried to offer a distinct possible future in which my protagonist lived. I’m a great admirer of writers who can welcome you to a fantasy quickly, and particularly Roger Zelazny’s great skill at that (I use his short story “The Furies” in writing classes as an example).
To offer you the briefest of temptations to check out GENERATION WONDER, then, here are the opening paragraphs of my story:
Back in the beginning of the 16th Century, when a genius named Erasmus wrote, “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” he wasn’t just being wise and witty, turned out he was prescient. Not quite literally, and it took six centuries to get there, but close enough. If his contemporary Nostradamus had been that clear, we’d have had quite a guide to the future.
No such luck.
Turned out that the commonest side effect of the pollution war of 2132 was a dramatic downturn in most people’s vision as their optic nerves progressively atrophied in response to one of the nasty chemicals let loose in the atmosphere. It wasn’t quite living in the kingdom of the blind, but it wasn’t just the bastard who designed those pollution bombs who was shortsighted.
GENERATION WONDER, Barry Lyga editor, is published by Amulet Books, available June 14 at bookstores and the wiser comic shops. Let me know if you enjoy it!