…to write a trilogy of novels. No, that’s not exactly true. When I was 18, I had this idea to write a novel. I was working over the summer at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA. (also not entirely true; I worked there year round, but full time in the summer). I was typing up reference cards on an old Royal typewriter (this was 1993, folks; typewriters were still relevant) when suddenly and without warning this idea popped in to my mind.
I’d always been an avid reader… a huge fan of everyone from Stephen King to Shakespeare (I was still a few years away from my Miller/Kerouac/Ginsberg phase). My mother was and is fond of telling tales of me being a child/pulling all the books off of the family bookcase, laying them on the ground and pretending to read them one at a time. And writing, at the time, was less of a hobby and more of a hassle but I had realized sometime around my junior year in high school that I had a knack for it. Said knack was nothing that I openly acknowledged. I was too busy trying to be popular to start trying to write stories. But this idea… well, it had an unusual and unexpected degree of power. Immediately, I replaced the long, blue reference card that I had been typing with another empty one and I began typing what would become the final, unaccosted and unedited scene of the first novel I ever wrote, “Endworld.”
Some of you reading this may have read that scene and the 200 or so pages that proceeded it. Most of you probably haven’t. I’m not going to give you the same stock answer I’ve been giving for the last 18 years. I’ve called “Endworld” everything from “dystopic romance” to “a fictional autobiography.” Anyone who doesn’t know what “Endworld” is about and is interested in knowing please, drop me a line and let me know. I’ll provide you with the best summation of it that I can… I’ll even tell you what influenced me to write it. I might even send you a copy of the unaccosted and unedited final draft if you desire (it may hurt your head a bit but I’m happy to oblige). All that matters is what was born that hot, summer day in 1993 as I sat in the un-air conditioned RRC Library; the humming Royal typewriter with the long, blue reference card in it sitting before me.
A world was born, friends. A universe within my own subjective universe. My universe. “Endworld” was my Middle Earth. My Westeros. My Path of the Beam. It remains so, even to this day.
What ever happened to it? Again, many of you know the answer to that and those of you reading this that don’t? A brief synopsis: “Endworld” begot “Children of Endworld” which begot “Heaven and Endworld.” A trilogy of novels written between 1993 and 2000 that I thereafter called “The Endworld Chronicle” that told part of the story of my hero–Roland MacNuff–and his plight to escape the world that he inherited from his parents. A world run by machines. The Administration as I called them. It was my take on Artificial Intelligence and dystopia. One possible outcome were machines to ever (stealing a line from “The Terminator” here) become self-aware.
There were multiple problems with it. Plot holes galore. An inconsistent narrative and stilted dialogue. No one that read it–myself included–ever doubted the heart that went in to writing it. They simply doubted the skill. I guess I can’t blame them for that. After all, how many times can one man be knocked unconscious before he suffers permanent brain damage?
The books were a product of my upbringing. Heavily influenced by both cinema and television. More specifically, the aforementioned “Terminator” movies and “The Wonder Years.” Did I watch too much TV as a child? Yes. I admit it. And that overindulgence in the medium(s) carried over in to what, in essence, was a highly unoriginal piece of writing. Whatever happened to “The Endworld Chronicle?” The answer is simple: I tried to forget it ever existed. I focused on trying to write more complete, more original and more consistent stories. But I was rarely if ever successful. In the subsequent years since I finished writing the last paragraphs of “Heaven and Endworld” I’ve dabbled in everything from short story writing to poetry to essay writing to blogging. I’ve achieved moderate success in all formats (albeit with only a few casual readers) but nothing ever… for lack of a better term… “got me off” like writing “The Endworld Chronicle” did (Nicole, if you’re reading this, please don’t assume something dirty and sexual per what I just wrote; I swear that I never did anything deviant while writing them). That universe… my universe… has never left me.
If anything, it’s grown sharper in the subsequent years since I finished writing about it. Sometime around the halfway point of the second book (that’d be “Children” for those of you keeping track) I realized that there were aspects of the “really, really real world” that I wanted to interpret for the purposes of Roland’s story. There’s a scene about halfway through “Children” where Roland and his merry band of revolutionaries manage to restore power to an old, dusty computer that they find in a ski lodge in the Rocky Mountains. The damn thing still runs on a Windows platform (at the time it was WIN 95 but I changed it in a later re-write). Said references begin in earnest throughout the latter half of “Children” and carry over in to “Heaven.” By the time I was well in to the writing of “Heaven,” not only the personalities of my characters but the appearance of their world began to take shape. Thereafter, what had once been nothing more than a story became something greater. It became a vision of Roland’s machine-controlled world in all it’s dystopic glory. I finished “Heaven” strong and with the intention of revisiting the first two novels/injecting them with the same new found perspective that I injected in to the last 50% of the “Chronicle” that I’d written.
But my life changed. Drastically. I completed “Heaven” in the late summer of 2000 while living on the second floor of my friend Renee’s family home (incidentally, she’s probably reading this right now and ‘Nay? Thank you again for giving me a place to live for that summer). Less than a month later, I was living with a “friend” and her six month old son in an apartment in Morristown, PA.. Less than two months after that I was living on the floor of my friend Tom’s apartment in Feasterville, PA.. A month later? Northeast Philadelphia…
…And the rest is history for those of you reading this that know me. If you don’t and want to know, let me know and I’ll let you know (how many “knows” can I cram in to one sentence? Forgive me friends. It’s late and I have to be up at 5:30 AM tomorrow. I’m rushing to finish). Drastic is the understatement of the decade. I had little time to consider revisiting “The Endworld Chronicle.” I was too busy getting promoted to Store Manager at CVS/Pharmacy and meeting my soon-to-be wife Nicole/embarking on a life with her to even consider it. Why?
In short, “Endworld” may have begot “Children” and “Heaven” but there were other stimuli that begot “Endworld.” Said stimuli need not go mentioned in this blog entry as their is existence is irrelevant currently. Fact: “Endworld” was more than just my vision of the future; it was me fictionalizing my wants, my needs and my desires. I was driven by said things back then. I was obsessed with them. More specifically, I was obsessed with an ideal that only ever existed in my mind. I wasn’t just writing a story: I was writing my life as I wanted it to be. With someone as I wanted it to be. Anyone that’s ever done that knows how equal-parts intoxicating and self-destructive it can be. In theory? It’s something you have to experience to fully understand. In truth? I do not recommend it. Bad ju-ju, kids. Bad, bad ju-ju.
But now at 35 (sadly pushing 36) I find myself revisiting not the “Endworld” born of my completely misguided 20-something wants, needs and desires but the “Endworld” of my vision: The dystopic, Administration-run world that my hero, Roland MacNuff and his aforementioned merry band of revolutionaries desired to escape. The true “meat” of “The Endworld Chronicle.” I don’t think anyone who’s read the books or anyone who’s discussed them with me… shit, anyone who’s known me for some portion of the last 18 years denies that there is something special there (and if you don’t feel that way please feel free to tell me as I continue to thrive on constructive criticism). I can not deny that “Endworld” is something that defines me and may, long-term, define my life and the lives of my wife Nicole, my daughter Cara and our two furry children ‘Dorna and Roxy. Not to mention the people so lovingly depicted in it. My friends, many of whom (I hope) are reading this right now. This universe needs to be made right. It needs to be explicated properly. Without an overabundance of misguided emotion. “From within the Void,” Jackson. Yeah, Marine, if you’re reading this right now, that shout out was meant for you. Respect. I’m still pissed at you but hey, you’re on my mind so that’s a step in the right direction, aye?
And that’s all I know. I’m asking for insight here, guys. Anything you can offer me. “Endworld.” Is it worth revisiting? Is it what I feel in my heart, soul and mind that it is: The literary depiction of me? My opus? And if so, what recommendations would you make for making it work? I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks for reading through my latest Friday-night rambling. G’night.