concept art for the cover of Hail, Zlorp! by Wilson Swain
Hail, Zlorp! is a pocket-sized travel guide for the time traveler, experienced or first timer. It is written by retired time traveller, Archibald Burroughs, who shares his vast wisdom on the many subjects of time travel. Each brief section details how to behave, how to speak, and how not to be eaten in any given time period. Whether you encounter a cave of neanderthals, a legion of Roman soldiers, or Zlorp Loyalists in the far future, this guide is a quick and easy tool to help you survive and fit right in. Time travel can be dangerous and full of the unexpected. Hail, Zlorp! will become the definitive guide to help even the most novice time traveler have a safe journey then and back again.
The style of the book will be similar to those travel guides that tourists always have handy when traveling the world. In each chapter (relating to a specific period in time) the same questions will be answered. Basic greetings and phrases like “Where can I use the restroom?” will be detailed, according to the time period. Also, general advice on the context of the time and how not to endanger oneself by acting stupidly: What to do if you encounter your younger/older self? What to do if you encounter an historical tyrant? You find some large eggs, should you take them to cook breakfast? If you fall in love, should you take the person/thing with you on your travels? Should you step on that blade of grass? (UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO STEP ON THAT BLADE OF GRASS).
The tone of the book will be instructional, with a deadpan attitude. Absurdity with a straight face. Getting eaten by a dinosaur or being chased by puritan witch-hunters or cooking breakfast will be treated with the same matter-of-factness that only a guide book can provide.
As the writing is "written by" Archibald Burroughs, the artwork is "by him" as well. The current art provided for the crowdfunding campaign is by the excellent Wilson Swain.
All the artwork will have a sketchbook, instructional style, as if Burroughs had been sketching them in his journal as he travelled. As the campaign continues, I’ll post more of Wilson’s art for the book!
Check out his website here.
As the chapters range from the factual and historical (Old West, Ancient Rome, 1771 Philadelphia, The Great Depression) to the semi-historical where there is room for imagination (The Old Stone Age) to the more absurd (the far future, where Zlorp has control of the planet and enslaved all of humanity, or the further distant future where Zlorp has been deposed and peace has been restored).
Illustrations will be included of good and bad hand gestures, useful signage, and the difference between violent Glurbs and peaceful Glurbs (it’s all in the ears). One phrase may mean “hello” in one time period and “your mother is swine” in another.
Several common “touristy” phrases will be selected, and the same phrases will be in every chapter with interpretations according to the time period. As such, when a time traveler discovers that he or she is standing in the center of Moscow right after the October Revolution, they will be able to look up how to comport themselves (and where to find proper attire).
Several appendices will dig deeper into various subjects relating to time travel such as "Useful Items To Bring" and "On Paradoxes." One appendix reveals the heart wrenching reason why Archibald Burroughs retired from time travel.
The idea for Hail, Zlorp! came from volunteering at 826LA, a non-profit that tutors kids in writing. We focus on getting kids to embrace originality and imagination. Working with them has helped me be more open to new ideas in my own writing.
I began to work part-time in the Time Travel Mart, which fronts the tutoring center. There is a vast collection of tongue-in-cheek products relating to time travel, and it’s a great deal of fun interacting with the customers. I began to think of something that could unify the central theme of the Time Travel Mart, and the beginnings of this guide book came to mind. I laughed harder the more I thought about it.
A portion of every sale will be donated to 826LA, because I love them and what they do.
The book is outlined, and several chapters are drafted. I would love for readers’ honest reactions to the proposal and subsequent sample chapters I post. What’s more, interaction with people who might want to read more will help me write it all the faster!
Having it "written" by Archibald Burroughs helped solidify many of the ideas in the book, and sneak in a backstory for him, told from the first person. In a way, it’s a novel that disguises itself as a guide book, and that’s part of the fun in writing it. It’ll be a big part of the fun in reading it, too.
Burroughs’ central ethos regarding time travel is to never alter history, lest catastrophe occur. It’s a very serious concern of his, but it is presented with wit and humor and absurdity. Ultimately, Hail, Zlorp! will not only inform, but delight you on your travels through time. Should you adhere to its guidance, Hail, Zlorp! will help you to not die. Not dying, in fact, is the first rule of time travel. Many don’t know this.