Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sadder Still To Watch It Die Than Never To Have Known It

I fondly remember those teenage years when I would put on a Rush album, sit there holding the album in my hands, marveling at the overall spectacular visual presentation of the art (usually by the genius Hugh Syme) while the music filled the air in my bedroom and stirred my heart, mind and imagination with spectacular new visions and tales that bounced around inside my head.

Yes, I'm talking about the large square cardboard object that held the vinyl disc inside a paper sleeve that sometimes even had the lyrics printed on it. Occasionally the album cover would open like a book -- 2112 by Rush, of course, did just that. And there was an incredible story inside.

But it didn't have to be one of the themed story albums that inspired my imagination and creativity. So many songs from this band set my imagination on fire and produced characters, settings and scenes from stories in my head. I imagined, for example, with the Rush album that was my proper and full introduction to the band, Grace Under Pressure, a theatrical/musical stage show about a post-apocalyptic world, and invented characters that would further connect the songs together in an overall story arc. Heck, I was even able to connect the songs from Signals together in a similar story arc about a young boy who rose up to become a world leader via following his passion for adapting technology into making the world a "better" place.

So when the opportunity to write a story for the anthology 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush (edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge) came about, the biggest question was which of the hundreds of stories that this band had inspired in me would I write about.

I mean, after all, so many different songs from Rush inspired so many different amazing tales, images, characters and situations. And much of my writing had already contained elements from the band's music and lyrics that infused themselves between the cracks.

And despite the fact that I had already had a story published a year earlier that had been inspired by the song "Losing It" from the Rush album Signals, (a song that continues to bring tears to my eyes and which I got to see performed live during the band's R40 tour), I knew that song, one that had long been an intensely personal song for me, could inspire yet another story.

The previous story that had been inspired by "Losing It" was a dark humour piece I had published in Tesseracts Seventeen called "Hereinafter Referred to as the Ghost." I wanted to draw inspiration from the same song, but this time take a more heartfelt approach.

The song paints a quick portrait of a dancer who is no longer able to dance and a writer who can no longer write. After displaying the loss of their life passions, the chorus chimes in:

Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we'd like to be
Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it

For you the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee . . .

 The song still brings shivers and a gentle tear to my eye. The music is as hauntingly beautiful as the portrait of the two artists who still hold the passion, yet whose bodies and minds are unable to continue on.

And so, in my story "Some Are Born to Save the World" I wanted to capture that same feeling in the guise of a super-hero at the end of his career. Bryan, the story's main character, has dedicated his life to employing his supernatural abilities for good as White Vector, and the tale captures his rise and fall in that life-long conviction.

It is a story that I am quite proud of, not just because of the tale that the song inspired, but because I know that the story has already reached a number of readers in a positive way. Here are some of the reviews I've already seen that mention the story:

"Leslie explores Bryan’s motivations and fears with a sure hand, and delineates the qualities, good and bad, that could drive a person to dress up and fight crime. Even in the last days of his decline, Bryan is able to rediscover a new purpose and a return of his dignity, and it’s a measure of Leslie’s skill that this change happens in a realistic, yet meaningful fashion." - Brandon Nolta, Tangent Online

"This one teared me up, but in a good way." - Erin S. Burns, Burns Through Her Bookshelf
"This was one of my favourites. The life, death and rebirth of the superhero White Vector. This perfect little gem captures exactly what being a superhero means. I wouldn’t change a thing. You just can’t beat a well-executed origin story." - Paul, Goodreads review

Me and Ron Collins (contributors to the anthology) making a Kevin J. Anderson sandwich
Kevin, Ron and I doing our best "Starman" pose (from 2113, not 2112)

While 2113 might be the only actual Rush-themed anthology that I have had a story published in, I know there will be more tales born out of inspiration from the band's more than 40 years of music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a Kind of invisible web drawn by the Music of Rush and the lyrics of NP all over the world ... nice to read that so many heartfelt thoughts stories and last not least lifes connect here. Losing it used to make me cry in 1982 at the Age of 16 and still does now that I've become 50. Considering the thought of Rush finished touring last year the song even seems to become true for the genuine Rush fan.
Tom from Germany