Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Post: “What is Brave New World?” by Matt Forbeck

MattForbeckThis week, I bring you a guest article by Matt Forbeck.

Matt is the author of countless games and many novels and stories. His Magic: The Gathering comic launches from IDW in December, and his 16th novel, Carpathia [a CR Most Anticipated of 2012], hits stores in March. He also has a mad plan called 12 for ’12, in which he plans to write a dozen novels in 2012. His first Kickstarter drive for his Brave New World Roleplaying Game novels hit its first funding level, so he starts writing the first book in January.

So, without further ado, What is Brave New World…?

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Back in 1999, I designed a roleplaying game called Brave New World. It’s a dystopian superhero setting in which superpowered people must either work for the government or become fugitive outlaws. Despite the title, it had zip to do with the novel by Aldous Huxley, other than the fact that Huxley and I were both clearly fans of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in which Miranda says, “O Brave New World that has such people in’t.”

Forbeck-BraveNewWorldIn October of this year, I announced an insane plan I came up with called 12 for ’12, in which I plan to write a novel each month in 2012. This month, I launched a Kickstarter drive to support the first trilogy of those novels, which are based upon my Brave New World Roleplaying Game. We’ve already hit our first funding goal, which means I start writing in January, and we’re stretching to unlock the next two books too.

I haven’t written any Brave New World material for over ten years, so I’m thrilled to be getting back to the setting. It’s no surprise, though, to hear people ask what is Brave New World all about.

It’s a world in which super-powered people — called deltas — began to appear during World War I and rapidly increased in numbers. During World War II, a new, more powerful breed of deltas — called alphas — appeared, stepping the supers race up to a whole new level. These people changed the world in many ways, including the moment when Superior — the first and greatest of the alphas — rescued President Kennedy from an assassination attempt that took the First Lady’s life.

Afterward, the President declared martial law, and the US has been living under it ever since. This came to a head in 1976 when Superior entered a final battle with his greatest foe, the Devastator, and the entire city of Chicago was destroyed in an earth-shattering explosion that killed every known alpha in the world.

Forbeck-BraveNewWorldArtIn the wake of that, Congress passed the Delta Registration Act. All deltas had to register with and work for the US government or be declared an outlaw. A movement known as the Defiance rose up in opposition to this law, and the battle between the two sides has now raged for decades.

If this sounds a lot like Marvel’s Civil War event, yes, I’ve noticed the similarities too. In that 2006–2007 crossover, a supers-related disaster causes Congress to pass the Superhuman Registration Act, which had many of the same effects of the Delta Registration Act, pitting heroes against heroes in a fight based along the same metaphorical lines: security or liberty?

I wrote my game back in 1999, long before Civil War could have even been planned. Despite that, I doubt that Mark Millar and the folks at Marvel were ripping off the Brave New World concept. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, this is the same theme that gripped both the US and the world. It’s no surprise that someone at Marvel would come up with stories meant to explore it.

By the same token, Marvel hardly had the final word on the subject. It’s the same argument we still hear in the news every day. There’s a great deal more to explore, and I’m looking forward to coming up with new stories for Brave New World that do just that.

If that sounds like fun to you, then join me for the ride. The Kickstarter drive is already underway and wraps up at noon on December 4. The more support it gets, the more stories I can tell, and the more we’ll all get to see of that Brave New World.

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Below is an introductory video for the Kickstarter program:

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Forbeck-CarpathiaAs mentioned in the introduction, Matt’s next novel will be Carpathia (Angry Robot Books). Here’s the artwork and synopsis:

When the desperate survivors of the Titanic were rescued from the icy waters of the North Atlantic by the passenger steamship Carpathia, they thought their problems were over.

But something was sleeping in the darkest recesses of the rescue ship. Something old. Something hungry.

The lucky ones wished they’d gone down with the ship.

This sounds pretty awesome. I’ll endeavour to get a review posted as soon as I am able. Carpathia is of CR’s Most Anticipated 2012.

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