The Wild and the Innocent

This is the edition of the book I got from the library

Michael Moorcock was one of my favorite authors after I read this in my junior high school years. I read everything of his I could find.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, places or things are unintentional or used fictionally.

I’m telling you a true story, but I’ve changed things around to make it more believable.

All these I’ve read or heard or seen in some form or fashion across books, magazines, films and television shows. You have, too. This is a writer’s attempt to say: “Hey, I wrote this thing that you may recognize yourself in, but I’m trying to reassure you that it’s not really you. Not really. I promise. Please don’t sue me. I don’t make enough money to make it worth your while, okay?”

One of the books of my youth presented itself as a true story of time travel. Michael Moorcock presented The Land Leviathan as a true account from a distant relation, one Oswald Bastable. I was young and didn’t believe it or at least I didn’t believe it much. It lent the story an air of gravitas that certainly made quite an impression on my teenage mind.

Looking back through the fog of decades, I believe that Moorcock based Bastable on someone he knew. He likely changed things like physical details, perhaps speech patterns and even little things like nervous habits. It’s entirely possible that Bastable was unrecognizable to the person who he was based on.

Or maybe Bastable was real and so was the tale. I like to think it was real and that Moorcock cleverly disguised it as fiction to keep everyone guessing. A sort of double-blind, as it were.

In my own work, I have used names of people I know as a kind of tribute. My comic book friends were in cryogenic sleep on a deep space mission to colonize a new world. A couple of my Twitter friends showed up as monster hunters in a chapter of the book I serialized on my website a couple of years ago. Some of the Confabulators will show up in a future work that I’m near to completing right now. In each case, I did it with no subterfuge and without doing anything that would damage them in any way. It’s fun to do.

Even though there are people in my stories named after friends, they’re not real. They can’t be. Flesh and blood are not the same thing as words and phrases.

As far as my own experiences, of course they inform my stories. When I travel I look for settings to use in stories, local color to include in them somewhere. Without fail I will change them to suit the tale because a shopkeeper is a shopkeeper whether in Colorado three years ago or on a distant planet in the far future. I will endeavor to make the story more true by changing everything I can to ensure the internal logic is solid, that it makes for a good read.

So if you see your name in one of my stories, it’s not necessarily you. Maybe I thought of you when I was writing, but maybe not. Maybe I just lifted your name because I was struggling to come up with something. If that character is dressed like you, acts like you and seems to be you, relax: it’s not you. I promise.

It’s not a true story. It’s a work of fiction. Names and places were changed. I don’t write biographies. Don’t sue me, okay?

Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at


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