Welcome to ‘Lantic City NexGen, the newly renovated gambling mecca, where a 15 year old boy named Hofstra, on the run and desperately trying to prove his manhood, gets caught up in a private war between Buma Willys, a down-on-her-luck cyberspace gambler who’s looking for that one last big score, and Rockne Keobardi, the mob-affiliated casino owner that wants Buma dead!
I owe it all to L. Ron Hubbard. Well, not all of it, but Sofa Jet City Crisis at least.
Back in the revolutionary 80’s I discovered the Dianetics Master of the Universe’s quarterly contest, Writers Of The Future, and made it my mission to collect the contest winnings and build my sci-fi writing empire. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I had various projects in different stages of development scattered about the place, some carbon dating back to the tender age of 11 and I could have dusted any one of them off, given it a spot polish and submitted without breaking a sweat. But I was reading a lot of Harlan Ellison at the time and Mr. E. was fond of telling we silly mortals who hoped to make a career of writing to create a new story every single day. So, I was determined to create a brand spanking new tale for Mr. Hubbard’s competition.
I’m sure you can spot the road signs from here.
The original incarnation of this story dealt with a down-on-his-luck gambler betting against the devil. Convinced it was the best thing I had ever written, I happily mailed it off, sat back and waited for my check to arrive. And I waited. And waited. And waited. No check. What I did receive was a rejection letter from Orson Scott Card, another writer I admired (who doesn’t love Ender’s Game?)
Crushed but not defeated, it was a quarterly contest after all, I flung the story back on the drawing board, put my nose to the grindstone, and swapped out most of the religious mysticism for technology. I couldn’t let go of the devil, though (if I were a spiritual man, that statement might bother me).
Rejected again. Undaunted, I retooled the story, sans Satan this go-round. Rejected. So I tried again. And again. And again. A total of 12 times. 12 rewrites. 12 rejections.
Fast forward some 10 odd years and what did I discover at the bottom of my “someday story box” (a Pinocchio realm for my writing, “Someday, you’ll be a real story.”) and you know what? I didn’t hate it. At this time Peter Laird (half the creative talent behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) founded the Xeric Foundation which awarded money to creatives looking to publish their work within the comic industry. After more prodding than I’m willing to admit by then partner, Juanita Hicks, Sofa Jet took a 13th trip to Rewriteville. It was mid 90’s and I was heavily into William Gibson’s cyberpunk movement… so guess what wormed its way into the final draft? Apparently, it was the missing element because I was awarded the prize in 1997.
Special thanks go out to Adam Dekraker for lending his incredible talent to the visuals of this project.
— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys