To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on the first Monday of every month. At the end of the month, I’ll take the story down and post another.
I’ve been watching Master of the Universe: Revelation, which prompted me to think about those 1980s cartoons, which were basically just glorified toy commercials and yet had a huge impact on a whole generation of kids. So what better story to share today than Blasters of Forever, which takes the impact such a 1980s toy tie-in cartoon can have on future generations to its logical end.
So follow cartoon screenwriter Simon as he meets the…
Blasters of Forever
They burst out of the swirling time vortex to a fanfare of electronic music. The Blasters of Forever.
They were remarkable, sensational, awesome. More awesome than the Magnadragons, more awesome Dana Star and the Dynonoids, more awesome even than Ace Thunder and the Ultrasaurs and those had all been pretty damn awesome indeed. The Blasters of Forever, however, were the most awesome thing ever in the world of toy tie-in cartoons.
They were… plastic. Injection moulded ABS, painted in bright Day-Glo colours, studded with iridescent plastic gems and partly coated with metallic paint that was the latest nano-micro-whatever technology, semi-experimental and pretty damn expensive.
They were truly awesome. Or at least they were supposed to be. Because when Simon lifted them one by one out of the box, the big cardboard box labelled “Design Prototypes! No Unauthorized Handling!”, they looked considerably less than awesome. In fact, they looked like cheap junk. Cheap junk made by forced labour in a squalid factory somewhere in the Far East. And Simon was in charge of turning them into the most awesome thing ever, this year’s must-have Christmas toy.
Simon was good at this, good at turning cheap junk into the most fucking awesome thing ever. He’d started out with Billy Galactic and the Magicdogs, a line of stupid stuffed toy dogs that were, well, magic. All right, so they toy dogs weren’t magic at all, though they had voice chips that said things like “Abracadabra” and “Simsalabim” and broke down after roughly five hundred activations. A lively kid could go through those in two weeks.
Everybody had known that the Magicdogs were kind of naff, even the manufacturer. But Simon had come up with a story about magical dogs from outer space, stranded in an earthly dog pound and fighting crime, the sort of petty crime that didn’t freak out the censors, of course. The resulting cartoon, drawn somewhere in the Far East in an assembly line studio that was probably right next to the toy factory and offered only marginally better working conditions, had been a hit. It hadn’t quite catapulted the Magicdogs into the top 5 of Christmas toys, but it had sold more stuffed toy dogs with voice chips than anybody ever expected. Not bad for a toy everyone in the know had expected to tank.
From then on Simon played in the big leagues. The Magnadragons had been next. They were plastic dragons who changed colour when exposed to hot water. The colour-changing thing had been the hottest toy gimmick three years ago. Everyone had been doing it, even Barbie. The story that Simon had come up with was about prehistoric dragons living inside a volcano, trapped by hot magma (he’d initially misread “magna” as “magma” and by the time he realised his mistake, it was too late to change it), only to emerge in our time and fight crime.
Next came Dana Star And The Dynonoids, one of the rare action toy lines aimed at girls. They were cheap plastic dolls with garish neon-coloured hair and some kind of electric light-up action. Once Simon was done with them, Dana Star was a princess from outer space. When her evil twin Dee Dee Star usurped Dana’s throne, Dana fled to Earth with her girl pals the Dynonoids, who just happened to be cyborgs with special powers, since cyborgisation with a teen rite of passage in Dana’s world, just as a nose job for overprivileged girls was in ours. On Earth, they posed as a pop band. And fought crime, of course.
This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in Blasters of Forever. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.