Episode 22: A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl
A Hundred Thousand Worlds begins with a mother and her son on the road, nine-year-old Alex in the back seat quietly searching for a real magic word. They are headed to Los Angeles, we come to learn, to reunite Alex with his father, Andrew, whom he hasn't seen for six years. But it's a working road trip: mom Valerie, star of a defunct cult sci-fi TV show, making paid appearances at comic book conventions along the way. The cast of characters emerges from these: comic book illustrators and comic book writers, super-hero impersonators and obsessed fans, heroes and villains, the known and the unknown. Ultimately this is a book about the journey, as much as about the destination, about the power of story, and its limits.
Bob Proehl talks about his first draft ("Andrew was completely evil, Valerie was completely perfect, Alex was totally protected"), tells us how he chose when to reveal certain secrets ("[When] you realize a piece of information is going to be in the marketing materials, you have to give that away right off - that's the not-fun answer"), and confesses he married his wife even though she wasn't a comic book fan.
Guest readers Brian Slattery and Alfie Guy join host Cyd Oppenheimer to discuss beginnings and endings, consider the ways this novel is a love letter to comic books (and a critique of them), and see how many times they can say "agency" in twenty-five minutes.