Mike and Shell DiBaggio (Presto) are the husband and wife team behind the amazing art and creative writing of Ascension Epoch, a shared universe of adventure fiction built on both original elements and public domain sources. In addition to appealing to readers with entertaining stories and great artwork, Ascension Epoch is also intended to be collaboratively developed with other writers and artists. In the following interview (which includes a PDF download), you’ll read about the unique pro-liberty ideas behind Ascension Epoch, inspirations, recommendations and much more! Enjoy!
Hello Mike and Presto! Thank you for talking with us about the amazing universe you’ve created known as “Ascension Epoch”. To start with, could you tell us a little bit about what Ascension Epoch is?
Mike: Ascension Epoch is two things: an open-content fiction platform and a shared universe for the stories we tell. As a platform, it’s a way to encourage collaborative writing and contribute new literature to the commons. We are opposed to the concept of “intellectual property” and see it as a real danger to freedom and creative expression. Thus, all of our characters, stories, artwork – everything – are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. We want people to share our work freely and get involved creatively, whether that means writing books, creating illustrations, performance art, or whatever.
Presto: I always like to point out the importance of that ShareAlike part. You see tons of individuals and companies, for instance, Disney, creating new work based on public domain stories. John Carter, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Little Mermaid, Treasure Planet, the list goes on and on. Disney usually starts with public domain stories, creates something new, and then copyrights it, so you can’t – for example – use their Ariel or their interpretation of the Oz witches in your own stories, even though they used other people’s creations as the basis for those characters. ShareAlike breaks that mold, requiring that anyone who wants to use Ascension Epoch stuff forego copyright. Over time, this should give a growing repository of characters, concepts, and stories back to the commons.
Mike: As a shared universe, the Ascension Epoch is a way to tell all sorts of different stories but keep them grounded in the same world. Primarily, we are interested in stories of heroic adventure, which might mean superheroes, two-fisted pulp adventure, exploration, sci-fi action, paranormal suspense, or a number of other genres. Many shared universes are pretty limited in the genres and themes they deal with, but Ascension Epoch goes all over the place. It may seem a bit counterintuitive at first, but we think it actually adds a great deal of verisimilitude to the setting. After all, the real world is not just about one thing, so why should a fictional world be? Our background is a composite of dozens of public domain works, mostly from 19th and early 20th century adventure literature, but also including Golden Age comic books and films from more recent times whose copyrights have lapsed. We’ve taken great care in developing these disparate viewpoints, characters, and events into a cohesive whole, tweaking and expanding the originals where necessary.
Presto: Mike is amazing to work with, the way he’ll see something and can figure out how to incorporate it into our universe. I was a bit skeptical that he could put, say, Wizard of Oz, Sherlock Holmes, War of the Worlds, and Frankenstein into the same alternate history and have it make sense. He’s put hours upon hours of thought into it – as well as our original characters and concepts – and it works. It’s seamless. He really is a world-builder at heart.
Mike: Ascension Epoch is primarily about telling entertaining stories, not about pushing an agenda. That said, like any serious creative work, it is informed from a certain perspective and shaped by particular values. In our case, these are Christian, pro-peace, and pro-individual liberty…
Read the rest of this awesome discussion with Mike and Presto at the following link: Ascension Epoch Interview! In this 5 page PDF resource, you’ll learn about the artists and other creative works that inspire them, individuals who encouraged them throughout life, the future of Ascension Epoch, thoughts on how libertarian-minded individuals can become better involved in their communities and much more!
For more information on Ascension Epoch, visit the Ascension Epoch website. Their books can be found on Amazon, Unglue.It, Noisetrade, and some other online retailers. You can also follow them on Google plus and Twitter, or sign up for their mailing list (you get a free short story by signing up, too).