Monday, October 31, 2011

Bugs! Giant Killer Bugs!

Tis the season to be spooky!

It won't come as a surprise to any of you that I love Halloween, so what better time to talk about the second monster-ific installment in my Avenir Eclectia saga: "Only the Strong"!

My initial concept for Dressler was always that of a loving father who could kick major butt. I'm a kid of the 80s and I remember Arnold Schwarzenegger from Commando, the muscled Father-Of-The-Year who saved his girl and didn't take flak from nobody. Dressler was certainly cut from the same mold, though he's a bit more morose than John Matrix ever was.

When it came time for my second story, I wanted to put Dressler in his element, to establish, right off the bat, that though he's heartbroken over his daughter's illness, he's still a cunning and capable soldier. I don't know anything about mining or archeology or exploration or any of that. What I do know is big guys shooting the ever-living bejeebers out of some giant killer bugs.

Making Dressler a bug hunter was a given. When I made that decision, though, I had no idea of all this wonderful backstory that Walt described! In fact, the only other bug hunter story I read (I think it was yours, Kat) had the hunter--Jax--stabbing a bug with a pointy stick. Now, I thought it was a great story, but I vividly recall running back to Grace and asking her clarify what she meant in her original AE backstory by "giant bugs". "Grace, are we talking the size of a football or the size of a car?" Because, when I think of "giant bug" I think--

Luckily, Grace--ever accomodating--assured me that there was room in AE for killer bugs of all sizes. I wanted Dressler to have a gun, because I was certain there was no way any hunter was going to go up against giant killer bugs with a stick, no matter how Schwarzenegger they are :p In fact, in my mind, I'd envisioned whole teams of mercenaries, with various automatic weaponry, blasting every critter in sight!

But, alas, while exciting, that's not very practical. I was dead set to respect the work of those who came before me and wanted to incoporate the spear. Thus I came to the conclusion that Dressler was a meat hunter, and filling a bug full of bullets would only ruin his main export. Plus, I decided that the loud bangs of guns might scare off the cuddly devils, thus leaving him empty-handed.

What I settled for was a compromise. Giant bugs, a spear when best (because nothing spells "tough guy" like going all toe-to-toe-Harryhausen against an oversized beetle with a sharp stick, now that I think about it), a gun for last-ditch-effort/protection, and a muscle bound action hero with enough guts and moral center to save Trebs, a guy he doesn't really like, from the deadly pincers of these giant beasts.

I was really happy with how that all turned out, in the end, and have to thank Kat for inadvertantly keeping me in some semblance of reality--otherwise we might have had a whole planet of deadly killer beetles, and a war with hunters! ...Wait, that actually sounds kind of cool... Perhaps a story for another day... :)

Now, in the spirit of the season, I leave you with a trailer of my personal favorite "giant killer bug" movie: Them! Happy Halloween!


  1. Oh, yeah! "Them" is one of the best. It even fits the "Classic Sci-Fi movie" definition in that it includes the required exposition scene in which the father-figure (literally in this case) scientist gives a "rocks-for-jocks" level lecture on the world-ending threat as a middle school's silent 16mm film flickers from a noisy projector in a smoke-filled conference room (see the "The Angry Beavers" Halloween show for a great take-off on this).

    One thing to keep in mind; bugs seem to make up the major part of Eclectia's fauna, so they come in all sizes and fill all kinds of niches. I have heard that there may be something out there that isn't arthropod-like, but the reports are contradictory and some, frankly, read like the results of a very bad case of the DTs; so keep your eyes open out there.

  2. Awesome, Greg! For the record, my idea of giant beetle was pretty darn big, although not quite what's in the picture above. Maybe more like the size of a bull? Something formidable, but not something that would crush poor Jax with one foot or anything. And yes, I chose the spear for the reasons you stated. :D

  3. Greg:"-otherwise we might have had a whole planet of deadly killer beetles, and a war with hunters! ...Wait, that actually sounds kind of cool... Perhaps a story for another day... :)"

    We so have to talk.

    I can't wait until the author loop is up and running. I've got some serious story melding and ironing out to do with all you other authors and bug freaks.
    (gonna have to look up THEM sometime!)

  4. Kaye, I like the way you think :) And, yes, THEM is actually really good. Dated, sure, but that last act is actually pretty intense.

    Kat: I read your mind!