The whirlwind that was 2014 for me had one huge event threaded through the majority of its constituent months: the creation of The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory: How to Get Off Your Podunk Planet and Master the Final Frontier. A book which is, finally, almost out in the world.
The follow-up to the first book I wrote alongside Nick Hurwitch, we plowed through the content in the first half of the year. Then we powered through notes and revisions from the crack editing team at our publisher, Sourcebooks, made up of the indispensable Stephanie Bowen and Jenna Skwarek, and hashed out a slate of phenomenal, ridiculous illustrations with the help of Daniel Villeneuve (that’s one of his from the book above).
Then the book disappeared from our hands for a bit, and life intervened as usual. The guide went off to the back of my mind to sit and gather dust until it needed my attention again. While the folks at Sourcebooks were actually making the book happen, Nick and I were paying bills and thinking about what we might do for promotion.
So it’s a bit weird that The Space Hero’s Guide is finally about to happen. We’re in the home stretch — the book is available on Feb. 3, and suddenly there’s a ton to do. For example, we had to make a website, which meant remembering how to make websites.
Luckily, I think it turned out okay, thanks in large part to the spiffy WordPress theme we bought. It’s called Xone and you can find it here, if you’re so inclined. It’s fairly easy to work with, mostly pretty intuitive even for someone who’s been out of the HTML game for years, and generally just slick-looking.
Here’s what we did with it (spaceherosguide.com), with a little help from Daniel’s illustrations and the spectacular cover design work of Isaiah Johnson at Sourcebooks. Seriously, that cover is gorgeous.
There are a few other things we have planned to do in addition to talking with some folks on podcasts and hoping people like the book itself. The big difference in The Space Hero’s Guide when compared to So You Created a Wormhole is the presentation of the pseudo-narrative behind the existence of the guide itself. In Wormhole, the book is supposed to be the field manual for time-traveling agents out of QUANTUM — which stands for “Qualified Users and Negotiators of Time Travel Universal Ministry.” It’s the book new recruits receive to help them work through various scenarios, and just to understand time travel in general, and it’s written as if you’ve just been “hired” (or just joined the mandatory, non-paying and highly expendable Internship program) as a time traveler.
For The Space Hero’s Guide, we wanted to take a more narrative approach to the book — to give it more personality, in a sense, so that we weren’t just doing the same project over again but with a slightly different focus. For that, we created Captain Dirk Parsec, the universe’s greatest space hero: a man who has studied the likes of Kirk, Thrace, Solo, Adama, Organa, Reynolds, Ripley, and so on, combined that education with years of deep-space field experience, and filtered it all through an incredible level of vanity and arrogance. The book is posthumously transcribed from Parsec’s final transmission as his ship, the SOS Starhawk Flamepanther, was dragged by gravity inexorable will into the center of a sun. Parsec famously sacrificed himself by staying behind, in order to guarantee his crew’s escape.
Thus, the guide is Parsec trying to teach You how to be the next Him.
With that focus in mind, throughout the original conception of the book were sprinkled relevant portions of Dirk Parsec’s fictional memoir, Exploring the Face of God: The Life and Adventures of Dirk Parsec. When it came time to cut the book down to size in editing, unfortunately, the first things to go were usually the memoir excerpts, given that they were the most superfluous content at any given point. We were only able to keep a couple in the final publication. (That sounds kinda sad, but really, a lean book is a better book, and I’m happy with the cuts we’ve made throughout.)
The good news is, we wrote a bunch of those excerpts, and we generally enjoy them — they give a lot of interesting backstory to Parsec and actually help to build a narrative with what’s found in the book itself. So we’re planning to release those excerpts every week out here on the Internet, to go along with our other social media-type pushes, like the Dirk Parsec Twitter account and the Space Hero’s Guide Facebook Page.
Pretty excited, all told.
Last thing to bring up before we stop talking about book stuff for a bit: our “release party,” which is also a group gallery exhibition in conjunction with our pals at iam8bit in Echo Park here in LA. Our super-supportive and ever-cool friends at iam8bit put together the event, mirroring a similar release party-slash-art show for Wormhole that was simply spectacular. If you’re in LA, please, come on down (click into the image for the deets). We’ll sign books. There will be awesome art available for purchase. Nick and I shall dish out endless free high-fives.
Okay, book talk. Next time I mean to talk about my new favorite TV show, NBC’s spectacular “Hannibal.” Stay tuned.