Category Archives: Plots

Shades of Grey

You know that “50 Shades of Grey” romance novel that swept the world by storm recently? Yeah, I had that title more than a decade ago. To be more specific, just “Shades of Grey,” without the 50, but that’s close enough.

I had a novel to go with it, too. A first draft written during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2002. It was not a romance novel, but it was in part a romance. There was a woman who moved across the country to pursue a graduate degree after her husband died. The husband had been named Grey, and of course for most of the book she’s haunted by the memories of him. Shades of Grey, as it were.

There’s also a professional concert musician who plays the romantic interest. He’s friends with the members of a rock band now called The Undecided, because they couldn’t ever decide on a name and kept changing it so many times. Somewhere in the middle the band had also called itself Shades of Grey.

The rest of the book contained scenes exploring ambiguous moral or philosophical values – more shades of grey. The band is on the verge of both breaking up or making it big. The tentative romance teeters on the edge of flourishing or failure.

There is no sex, so the book always had that working against it. Surely only that — plus a completed second draft and actually submitting it to a publishing house — is all that stood between me and a smash hit. Obviously I already had the killer title.


Mutant Evil Jesus

Might as well start out with the most unpublishable of titles and plots: Mutant Evil Jesus.

In the not-too-distant future an archaeologist discovers a piece of the True Cross, which includes just enough of Jesus’ blood to scavenge and attempt to clone. Everyone knows this is a horrible idea, except for the team of scientists doing the cloning, who like all fictional scientists everywhere are consumed with a misguided religious fervor and have no survival instinct. Naturally, something goes wrong. Terribly wrong.

The young cloned Jesus (who actually goes by Joshua, using a modernization of the name) seems like just a normal kid at first, other than the obligatory scene where he brings a beloved pet back to life. And the part where he lives in a remote commune/laboratory with the scientists who cloned him, some of whom are watching him like a hawk to see if or when he starts acting like a messiah, and a few who seem to be unable to prevent themselves from continually dropping poorly veiled hints about their expectations for him.

Besides the researchers, he lives in the facility with his family, consisting of two other famous clones: an older sister who is a clone of Marilyn Monroe, and a younger brother who is a clone of Albert Einstein. The girl provides the eye candy, the boy provides comic relief. His family also includes the woman he thinks is his mother, who is actually the head scientist, and who did give birth to him after in-vitro fertilization. Naturally, she was a virgin at the time. Her name is Marylee, because we certainly need another unsubtle reference here to the biblical tradition.

On Joshua’s 13th birthday (the Jewish coming of age) he fully inherits all the powers due to him. Except because of DNA damage he’s not the messiah’s second coming, he’s a mutant evil version of the messiah. He demonstrates this by working miracles backwards: turning wine into water, making someone’s tuna sandwich disappear (reverse fishes and loaves), and bestowing sickness, possession, and even death with a touch.

One by one all of the researchers at this facility are killed or converted in horrendous fashion, turning all twelve of them into mutant evil disciples. Eventually only Joshua’s family is left. These he cannot harm, because just like Jesus he can’t work miracles in front of his own family. They convince him to turn back to the light, and he’s just about to undo all of the terrors that he has wrought, except one of the disciples (let’s say he’s got a name that is almost but not quite like Judas — how’s Jude sound?) stabs Joshua with a spear, in truly biblical fashion. There’s a struggle, an obvious parody scene with something resembling a crown of thorns, thirty pieces of silver thrown around, and then in a final scene where Jude is about to crucify Joshua the youth sees the light, decides it’s not safe for him to live, and basically blows up the entire facility, which Joshua’s family only barely escape, as the only survivors.

Credits: a nod to Simone, who once made a joke about a “mutant evil genius” which I misheard as this title. I’ve been carrying a torch for it ever since.