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’s Cinematic Universe, or even the Dublin of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Add to that list the intertextual Midwest of Kurt Vonnegut and the roman fleuve of Jack Kerouac’s partially-realized Duluoz Legend 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 worldview. 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. A case could be made that its postmodern but, then, what isn’t?

“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

Creating this fictional alternate universe isn’t an act of fiction so much as reporting the history of another reality. It’s worldbuilding as avant-garde journalism. It’s in this context that I wrote the cornerstone work, Quantum Deadline (The Lumaville Labyrinth, Part One), whichs lean on the Many-worlds Interpretation to establish the shifting continuities of the “Lumaverse,” 

The prelude to Quantum Deadline, my first novel, The Late Projectionist, finds the same narrator as a young adult attempting to recreate his reality through a failed screenwriting effort. It’s also where many of the leitmotifs and characters of the Lumaverse are established. I’ve been working to better align some elements of this early work to better fit later iterations of the world — resulting in a situation akin to Stephen Hero vs. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which is fine with me since the Lumaverse is ultimately a multiverse, right?

The screenplays The 5-in-1 and J00D expand the Lumaverse both literally and cinematically. The 5-in-1 backgrounds the Knights of Skeldaria game (the quantum effects of which are inadvertently unleashed by the young boy Jude) and revisits the Journo’s college frenemy, Cameron Block, as its creator. The screenplay J00D finds Jude as an adult in an Orwellian future wrought by the shenanigans of the characters in the otherwise contemporary context — chief among them Dr. Ashe, who is the villain of the film Pill Head, the spiritual, if sidelong, sequel to Quantum Deadline, which is now in post-production.

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