Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The History of Gemini Man ~ Part I: Gemini Warrior

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I realize Gemini Man has taken over the blog recently, but that is for a very good reason. Most of my writing time this year has been spent editing the trilogy to completion and trying to get it out for readers after years of production woes, and then also putting effort and time into the currently ongoing Kickstarter campaign, as well. As a consequence, I haven't really had the time to discuss or write on much else.

However, you might be wondering just what the whole story is behind this series. How did it come to be, and why is it coming out in this bizarre way? In addition to that, this is a bit out of joint for what I normally put out these days. Not only a series, but one based on superheroes? From the guy who wrote Y Signal and The Last Fanatics? Well, that is a long story, and one I want to share with you, especially as it pertains to how we got here in the first place.

Strap in, because this will take awhile.

Back in the year of 2017, I contributed a story for publisher Silver Empire's Paragons anthology. It was meant to be a collection of superhero stories featuring heroes being heroes. As someone who had just began wading into the art of writing short stories, I quickly began writing and sending them out. Somehow, I don't remember how, but I ended up having two different stories accepted for this anthology, but only one was published (both of these are now available in Someone is Aiming For You & Other Adventures today) in it. The anthology did very well, and as a result of that I was asked if I wanted to contribute to a new superhero project Silver Empire was working on. This new project was known as Heroes Unleashed. It was a weird opportunity I didn't expect to be given.

I say it was weird because 2017 was the year I went full bore into Pulp-inspired writing. I had spent 2016 publishing my first book but also learning just what type of storyteller I wanted to be. For those who have read most of my work, you can see the shift happen very blatantly.

2017 was the year I put out Grey Cat Blues, started writing short stories (the first ever short story I'd written, "Someone Is Aiming For You", is still one I get comments on to this day), and more or less figured out when I wanted to be and do as a writer. But I was still relatively new at this whole publishing game. At this point, I'd only written two vastly different books, after all. I hadn't even yet had more than one short story published.

This meant joining a "superhero" universe was a bit of a curveball for what I was doing at the time. I wrote about heroes and villains in my first set of short stories (which was later released in the above collection), but they were also part of a sort of loosely-interconnected longer story. The heroes in that were also far more in line with The Shadow or The Phantom than they were to cape comics. I don't really know if superhero fans every really clicked with that series. Even now, I'm not so sure I'm the right person for that kind of mainstream story.

But this opportunity also represented a new challenge to me. Silver Empire had produced the first book in their new universe called "Serenity City" (later retitled Heroes Fall) by Morgon Newquist which would set everything up and allow us a guidepost going forward. This book was actually what solidified my decision to attempt this project in the first place.

I assume if you're reading this and are aware of Gemini Man you've probably already read Heroes Fall, and you already know it's a really good read. It also isn't quite a typical superhero story either, though the universe it takes place in definitely is one. That base was important for other writers going forward. This then opened up possibilities as to where we could go with our own series.

And every writer definitely saw the possibilities.

Heroes Fall can be found Here!

Some of the other projects in Heroes Unleashed include Kai Wai Cheah's Song of Karma series, Jon Mollison's Phoenix Ring series, Richard Watts' Atlantean Knights series, and Paula Richey's Penance series. Each of these are vastly different than each other, never mind whatever idea of a modern superhero universe you might possess. It really showed how much mileage you could get out of a setting like this.

There were more series by other authors in production, but I do not know what became of them over the years. All of these were bound together under the in-universe character of Thomas Plutarch to bind them together easier in the same universe (and for the dead internet's algorithms), though it merely added to the fun of it all.

For my series I wanted to use the fact that I had a publisher behind me to see what I could get away with. I wanted to see what madness I could knock out with a framework around what I was able to do. Little did I know that I still ended up throwing in the kitchen sink and putting in just about everything I liked about comic books and manga growing up, and Silver Empire had little issue with any of it. I truly do thank then for the amount of freedom given in writing within their sandbox. How did my idea end up? Well, now you can see for yourself.

The story of Gemini Man is of two people: Matthew White and Jason Vermilion, two males of slightly different ages and backgrounds who look surprisingly like each other. The pair end up in the same experiment in a place known as Williams' Tech Corp in Serenity City. What should be a simple job for easy pay soon turns out to be much more sinister for the two of them. They soon find themselves with strange gold bracelets that give each of them odd powers. Even stranger than that: the bracelets seem to combine both of them into one person!

The weirdness doesn't end there, either. Their benefactor turns out being in the employ of a dark being from some other world, and the two end up being thrown into a portal through space and across the universe. Now on an alien world with unknown abilities, can they make it back home again? What's more, can they get a hole of these powers and avoid being blown to bits? There's a time limit and a whole alien force chasing after them, too. On a planet of magic and mystery, can two fledglings get a grip on their new situation before it's too late?

Naturally, this was a bit of an odd idea for a first book, to spend the majority of the story on a new planet outside of the norm of Heroes Unleashed, but that is exactly why I wanted to do it. I wanted to see exactly how far out I could go with this. Book One, Gemini Warrior, allowed me to essentially explore a side of the newer universe no one else had yet to explore. It also let me know what I could do for future entries, as well.

The thing is, Gemini Warrior is also not much in the way of a mainstream superhero story, either. There is more in Burroughs or traditional sword and sorcery than Superman or Batman here. This made some early reception a bit confused, not knowing if this was a coming of age story (not particularly) or if it was meant to be so fast-paced and furious (it was), though overall there was a warm reaction to Book One and excitement for what was to come next. You also have to remember that this came out when the current wave of pulp-inspired writing was still in its early ages of acceptance and it was still out of joint for what NewPub was doing. There wasn't much like Gemini Warrior at the time. Though I'd argue it's still not really that common now.

I had spent most of 2018 working on Gemini Warrior and Gemini Man's entire story structure that to date it was the only year since starting out that I never actually published a book. It didn't help that 2018 was also the year that I also kicked off in short story writing, too. Gemini Warrior only ended up releasing in 2019, though much of that was due to internal issues with different cover artists. I can't exactly expand on what those issues were in particular, but I can tell you that there is a reason that all three books in the series were done by different artists. This issue did not end with Book One, or even with me in particular.

I will expand on the rest of the production story for Book Two when we get there, but let me just say that putting Gemini Warrior out was a rather long and interesting experience I wasn't used to at the time. I also learned quite a lot.

For someone who mainly works in standalone works (though most everything I write is still connected somehow), creating a series was an interesting process. I had to shift my mindset when creating it so that I did the world and the story proper justice and breathing room.

One of things that made Gemini Man so fun as a whole was working with Matthew and Jason, the main characters. It was fun seeing their similarities and differences as they ended up in crazy situation after crazy situation and clashed against each other. The idea of dual protagonists is one I haven't done as often as I keep thinking I have, but I always enjoy playing with extremes and similarities with characters on the same side as each other. The idea of two contrasting heroes combining into one is always fun, and here it is a very important aspect of what they are capable of. I'm actually surprised at how powerful I was allowed to make them.

Matthew is the cynical loner who spends his life drifting by in the margins of a world where death can come swift and brutal. Despite that, he is always the leader in every situation he falls into, rising to every challenge as needed and throwing himself into the frontline. As the wielder of Castor, he becomes intangible, or so it seems. His bracelet's ability turns him to air or liquid, essentially slipping through things, and is what makes him a fierce opponent. His sixth sense and situational and spatial awareness is also sharpened tremendously. Oddly enough, Castor suits his personality just fine. Almost like it was made for him!

Jason, on the other hand, is kind of a naïve kid, always ending up in situations over his head. He is a bit of a hero freak, despite not having powers, and thinks they can solve any problem. That does not stop him from wanting to always do the right thing anyway. However, there is a bit more to his situation than he lets on. How did a teenager get accepted into this sort of an experiment anyway? Regardless, as the wielder of Pollux, his physical attributes become greatly enhanced to the point that he is almost a superhuman on his own. I can't even imagine what the power of Pollux would be like when combined with Castor . . .

Or can I?

What Gemini Warrior ends up being is a story of a mismatched pair thrown into an alien world and a desperate situation, having to work together, and finding their way back home among a race of beings unlike any they've seen before. Gemini Warrior is quite a bit different than you might think, not much of superhero story, but also setting up future adventures to come in books ahead. Where can they possibly go after fighting through that madness and making it back home?

Good question. However, that is for next time!

The cover of Gemini Warrior!

In conclusion, for being only my third book ever written, Gemini Warrior was a real fun experience for me to write, really helping expand my idea of what "genres" were and what one could engage with in a story. It came along at the right moment I needed it to.

As an aside, the dedication in the story is for my aunt, who had been one of the most supportive people in regards to my writing to that point. She was the one most excited for those project I had engaged in with Silver Empire. In fact, there was a lot of support from many others around me at the time. That was a new experience for me.

As I said, the reception for Book One was warm, and it emboldened me to continue on writing the series, though I was still doing other books at the same. The overall plan was to have one Gemini Man book release from Silver Empire, then release an independent one on my own. It obviously didn't work out that way, but at least now I have three whole books ready and waiting for readers to dive into. You will really see how much things have changed for me as a storyteller even just by going through each of these stories. So much changed over the years since they were first written, but I still enjoy all of them very much.

In regards to the next two books, they will have to wait for when we go over them in the posts to come. For now, as far as the first book goes, I wrote it when I was in a great place, in the early days of learning about publishing, and things were generally looking up. I hope it shows in the story, but it represents a confidence of a certain time and place that allowed a story like this to exist in the first place. I've certainly never written a story like this one since, though the same could be said about every book I've written. I want every experience for the reader to be fresh and exciting, and now you have a whole series to go through and experience it for yourself!

Next time, we'll go into Book Two: Gemini Drifter--the book that almost came out, but didn't. Now that will be a story to share!

Thank you, once again, for your support. These books wouldn't exist if not for readers like you in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. JD

    Aha! My instincts were right! :) Aiming for you is a non canonical Heros unleashed story! Woohoo! I enjoyed it very much. Gemini was a blast and can't wait for the rest.