Blasters of Forever

Blasters of Forever by Cora Buhlert1985: Screenwriter Simon St. John makes his living writing toy tie-in cartoons and dreams of finally getting his screenplay “People on a Bridge” produced.

But one night, when Simon has just come up with his latest creation, a group of time travelling cops known as the Blasters of Forever, a portal opens inside his living room. Out of the portal hop none others than the Blasters of Forever or at any rate, people who look very much like them.

The Blasters explain that they are from the future, where Simon is considered not just one of the greatest creative minds of the twentieth century, but also the inspiration for the time travel program that eventually led to the formation of the Blasters of Forever.

However, not just the Blasters of Forever are real. The villainous Doctor Chronos, sworn enemy of the Blasters of Forever, is real as well. And so is his cadre of time travelling assassins.

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Some background information:

  • Blasters of Forever is a short story of 5500 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • This story was written as part of the 2017 July short story challenge. The idea was to write a short story per day in July 2017.
  • The concrete inspiration for Blasters of Forever was coming across a generator for 1980s style toy tie-in cartoon titles. I played around with the generator a bit and wrote down the best titles that came up, hoping that one of them would spark the inspiration for a story. In the end, however, I liked the various titles so much that I thought, “Why don’t I use all of them and write a story about someone who writes toy tie-in cartoons for a living?” And this is how Simon St. John and his many creations were born.
  • I have a deep and abiding love for the toy tie-in cartoons of the 1980s, even though I know that they were basically just advertising, even though the toys they were advertising often weren’t even available. Toy tie-in cartoons or indeed almost any kind of action cartoons were hardly ever seen on German TV in the pre-private television era, when only the most harmless and wholesome fare was permitted and even Porky Pig was cancelled as “too violent”. However, in the 1980s my Dad worked in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and lived in an apartment which had cable TV (at the time, cable TV was still a distant dream at home). One of the channels available was the earliest incarnation of Sky, back when it broadcast nothing but music videos, 1960s US TV series and cartoons, lots of cartoons. The cartoons were broadcast in the context of a program called The DJ Kat Show, hosted by Linda de Mol and a puppet called DJ Kat. I loved The DJ Kat Show and in particular, I loved the cartoons. And the best cartoons were the many toy tie-in cartoons such as M.A.S.K., Jem, Transformers, Go-Bots, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra – Princess of Power, Bravestarr, Galaxy Rangers, Defenders of the Earth, Thundercats, Care Bears, My Little Pony and many others. I already homaged The DJ Kat Show in Cartoony Justice. Blasters of Forever is an homage to the cartoons I loved so much back in the day.
  • Rewatching some of these cartoons as an adult shows that much of what I loved about them existed merely in my head (and that I totally missed all the hints that many of the characters are gay – well, they had to be, considering how very few women there were), because frankly they are not very well made. The animation is jerky, the stories often make no sense, any depth the characters have existed primarily in my mind and the “morality bits” at the end are as patronising as I remember them. However, you cannot help but admire the enormous inventiveness displayed in stories whose main purpose was selling some pretty stupid toys to children.
  • Regardless of their actual quality, these silly toy tie-in cartoons I watched as a kid also had a huge influence on me. These neon-coloured stories embedded themselves in my subconscious and bits and pieces of them quite frequently emerge in the stories I write today. Blasters of Forever is also a story about how – to quote Captain Chronos – inspiration can be found in the strangest of places.
  • We are living in an era where we regularly see big budget Hollywood adaptations of things none of us ever expected to see on the big screen, whether it’s a whole series of Transformers movies or Marvel movies which give even the most obscure superheroes their moment in the spotlight. When they created the Marvel universe in the 1960s, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko et all could never have foreseen that these stories and characters would one day break box office records. And whoever created the Transformers probably never expected to see a live action version on the big screen. Just as Simon cannot imagine the lasting popularity his own throwaway creations will achieve.
  • None of the toys and cartoons described in Blasters of Forever ever existed. However, they are not all that different from many that did. 1980s toy tie-in cartoons were full of cyborgs, dinosaurs, time travellers, talking dogs, teen pop stars and characters with very silly names. The voice chips, the colour-changing and transforming action and the infrared targeting were all used in many real toys of the period, too. And yes, most of them never really worked as advertised. My lone Transformer has been a sportscar for ages, since no one can figure out how to safely transform him back.
  • Coincidentally, Simon’s great work People on a Bridge never existed either. However, it is easy to imagine just how bad that movie would have been.
  • The cover is a stock illustration by artist Valeriy Kachaev. The character on the cover is obviously Amy Extreme, since Felicia Galaxy, the other female member of the Blasters of Forever, is black. And yes, I deliberately tried to give the typography a 1980s cartoon vibe complete with garish colour clashes.
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