STORY Lab(yrinth)

Meanwhile, in Lumaville

So, I’ve been creating an “immersive transmedia experience within a self-consistent fictional universe” — what they call worldbuilding. Think Tolkien’s Middle Earth or that galaxy far, far away. Or Marvel, or even the the Dublin of James Joyce’s Ulysses, or the intertextualized Midwest of Kurt Vonnegut and you get the idea.

In my case, the scope is narrowed to the small American town where I grew up and repatriated 20 years later — Sonoma County’s Petaluma, CA), a.ka., Lumaville.

Doesn’t it seem like there should be a word in German for this sort of venture? I’ve coined it for you: geschichteweltmachen — or, roughly, “story world making.” And let’s never use it because it sounds like vomiting.

The fictional Lumaville is a sort of psychic space laid over the topography of the places that have long inspired and haunted me. It operates as a kind of imagined parallel universe inhabited by a protagonist who is, likewise, a parallel version of its author. But with a far darker world view. Conceptually, I consider the endeavor literary performance art and I’ll swear up and down that it’s a true story if asked. Because, depending on your brand of physics, it is – somewhere.

Throughout, our protagonist and his cohorts occupy the liminal space between detective fiction, a certain kind of sci-fi, and the comic cultural signposts recognizable to the generation born under the sign of X.

Worldmaking as Avant Garde Journalism

Creating this fictional alternate universe isn’t an act of fiction so much as reporting the history of another reality. This is the context in which I wrote my genre experiment Quantum Deadline (The Lumaville Labyrinth, Part One), its prelude The Late Projectionist. The tangential screenplays The 5-in-1, Super-Taster, and J00D expand the “Lumaverse” both literally and cinematically. As of this writing, I’m in post-production on Pill Head, the spiritual sequel to Quantum Deadline.

Below is a podcast that sums up some of my thinking on worldbuilding the Lumaverse.

“I write autobiographical fictions that draw on my experiences as a small town reporter – but with more drinking, danger and death. They’re semantically-engineered to make you feel better than I do. And, let me tell you, I feel just fucking great.” — Daedalus Howell