Notes on… “God Engine Rhapsody”

“God Engine Rhapsody” is a bit of a bittersweet memory. It’s a very short story (around 1500 words), it’s my first Iris Wildthyme tale that was commissioned, and it came at particularly strange time in my life. I was in a new job that had some long days, a dear friend of mine was dying from cancer and another old friend with whom I had recently reconnected with passed away unexpectedly. In the middle of all this, one of my brothers got married (and everything around that). So many, many mixed emotions.

Some notes:

  • As the premise of the anniversary collection of Iris: Fifteen (in which “God Engine Rhapsody” appears) was to have a unique version of Iris in each story, I based mine Gwen Stefani during the Return of Saturn era of No Doubt. My favorite version of Iris is the Barbarella one from the Doctor Who novel The Blue Angel. I played with idea that, given Iris as a series is very deconstructionist and post-modern (in my view at least), new incarnations of Iris would go through a “retro-modern” phase. “Iris-as-Gwen-Stefani-as-Neo-Barbarella” was the core idea.
  • The villainous living coffee makers was, in part, inspired by my wife’s obsessive love of coffee.
  • “The most annoying amusement ride song in history”? You already know what it is.
  • The “Supremo” reference is an old in-joke (to myself and maybe one other person who remembers). I liked the idea of referencing some menace / ubervillain that we never, ever get to see. And their plans always were alliterations.
  • The idea of Iris using the old toy gun with the cork on a string as a symbolic way of “killing” Franco to escape the para-reality was editor Stuart Douglass’ idea. I had originally written something more gruesome and he (brilliantly) suggested this much better version.
  • I had written a bunch of notes for this story and in the end only used one of them (regarding the villains of the piece).
  • I wrote and revised this story in a couple of hours on the last possible day to submit it. I almost didn’t; so much was going on and I was mentally not in a great place. But I’m very glad I pushed through, as having this story accepted and published was a one of the best thrills of my life.
  • I’m pretty sure this story is what got me a page on the Tardis wikipedia.

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