John “Sloop” Biederman's fate as a writer was sealed early, through encouragement from his parents and teachers. In grade school, he wrote old-time “radio” plays and won an Earth Day poetry contest in the late ’70s. (The blue spruce “sapling” prize now towers by his former family home in Ringwood, Ill.) His folks spurred his budding humorist through their favorite classics, from Laurel and Hardy to “Pink Panther” movies. Moved by authors including Poe, Tolkien and Twain, in junior high he crafted Dungeons & Dragons adventures and figured he’d grow up to be a humorous sci-fi/fantasy novelist. In high school, Sloop was an award-winning humor columnist/editor and picked journalism as (ahem) a practical career.
Sloop chased rock star dreams from his teens through three semesters at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in the ’80s. When rampant partying prompted his folks to yank the money, he moved home for a Multi-Year Funk and grunt jobs, pitching sci-fi/fantasy to magazines, earning feedback and a first unpaid “sale” (poetry), though the rag failed before publication. He moved to Chicago in 1991 and founded the first of two writers’ groups. Members loved his Floyd Pinkerton, from a one-off sci-fi story, so much they even wrote their own Floyd tales!
Sloop landed in alcohol rehab and was screwed-up worse by its religiosity. Pitching Gauntlet Magazine on a 12 Steps critique (later published), he snagged his first paid story (1993), analyzing a then media circus involving child’s birthday party stripper. Rehab became his first novel’s theme (‘Hab: The Other Side of Rehab, 1993; reedited and published on Smashwords in 2013). He returned to journalism school (Columbia College Chicago) in 1994, wrote a humor column for the school’s Chronicle, rose to editor-in-chief and interned at MAD Magazine. Dismayed at the Internet’s effects on writing careers, Sloop indulged new creative directions.
Sloop hit poetry readings socially and his humor verse landed paid gigs (Chicago Cultural Center, etc.). On graduating (1997), he founded a poetry scene rag, Tunnel Rat, which buried him in debt but landed him as editor of Chicago Artists’ News. In 1999, for the 10th National Poetry Slam, he hosted the Limerick Slam, founding DailyLimerick.net to plug it. (“News Limericks” and humor.) He met the woman who’d one day become his ex-wife, who moved him to California, where he worked at the L.A. Daily News, freelanced (San Fran Chronicle, MAD, etc.) and plied stand-up and comic verse at the Laugh Factory, Comedy Store, etc.
Sloop hated L.A., so returned home, bolstered clips with theater (CenterstageChicago.com) and sports (The Heckler) and scored his sweetest gig, News Limericks for the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye. When RedEye axed freelance, he placed “The News of Our Time--In Rhyme” at Continental Features. As writing income waned, Sloop translated stage experience into emceeing and acting gigs (TV, ads, indie films), even stumbling into directing/producing a theater troupe (Family Shoe Players) and a regular gig playing a tour bus gangster for Untouchable Tours.
The Great Recession/Internet tag team launched Sloop’s second Multi-Year Funk. While pleased he’d reinvented himself creatively, with his lifelong identity as a writer, he was now identity-challenged. After his parents’ deaths (2012 and 2014), he reclaimed his original identity by reworking the original Pinkerton tale into Drunk Space Driving in the Twenty-First Century, prelude to the novel series The Cosmic Misadventures of Floyd Pinkerton, Space Crock.
Drunk Space Driving in the 21st Century (or Prelude to the Cosmic Misadventures of Floyd Pinkerton, Space Crock)
(Available as free ebook download at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JohnSloopBiederman)The story opens in the year 2091 with hard drinking, cigar smoking Floyd Pinkerton spiraling out of control in an unknown planet’s atmosphere. Through flashbacks, readers learn that Floyd stole the craft (the Blue Maiden) from his employer on Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede--running away from a broken relationship and unsatisfying life. Tailed by the Sun System Sheriff, he hurriedly executes a “jump” through space (using astrogation to travel large distances) and lands smack into the Place That Should Not Be’s (his name for the planet) atmosphere. The Maiden crashes to the surface. He’s unable to budge the craft and, not mechanically inclined, thus stuck. Fully loaded for weeks with rations, booze and stogies, for a while he drinks, engages in shenanigans and wallows in his fate before turning on a distress beacon (praying to not attract “authority types”) and, via ship computers, assessing the planet outside--a low-gravity ice world. He finally ventures out to explore after hearing a large “crash,” his suit outfitted with a PCAH (Personal Consumption Airlock Helmet, allowing one to drink, smoke, etc.). He finds that another craft has crashed to the surface, an alien-looking, banana-shaped model. Could he be the first human to encounter alien life?... Turns out the craft was piloted by an old Earth nemesis of his, Bob Tripeman, who claims he obtained it from an insect-like alien race, the Zzurkwins, which Floyd highly doubts. Deciding that “Cruizy Suzy” (Bob’s name for the banana-shaped ship) is the only one fixable, Bob gets to work, mooching booze and smokes while taking his sweet time and continually rehashing/exaggerating an Earth-based event back in high school where Bob “saved” Floyd’s life. (Floyd crashed a ground car into a snowy ditch and was stuck. Walking to find help, Bob picked him up and proceeded, for weeks, to milk his “saving” Floyd by mooching booze, smokes and more.) They also share general memories of their childhoods on Earth, now an overpopulated world wherein America has been overtaken by the Crescent Jihad, a militant Islamic group that simply walked in and conquered, with most U.S. citizen zombified by smart devices and even Smart Brain Chips (SBCs). Eventually, they launch Suzy back into space, where they are soon attacked by Zzurkwins, who actually board, wanting their craft back (Bob’s explanation of the turn of events is suspect and short on details). What’s more, Tri-World authorities (Earth, Luna and Mars, the Sun System bodies with appreciable human colonization) make radio contact, wanting them both to turn themselves in! Floyd and Bob attempt to lose their pursuers by piloting an escape pod (large enough to hold most of their supplies) into a nearby asteroid belt, landing upon a large ’roid that happens to house an observatory. Via computers controlling multiple telescopes, they discern the Zzurkwin home planet nearby within the system along with, having little choice, their next destination, a habitable moon of the Zzurkwins’ world curiously populated by…human beings? Just before embarking upon this next leg of their on-the-lam vacation, they stumble upon a remote, real-time feed of a familiar planet--and witness a rather dire fate for their beloved Mother Earth! This book serves as a prelude to a novel series, The Cosmic Misadventures of Floyd Pinkerton, Space Crock.
Hab: The Other Side of Rehab2013
The Complete Daily Limerick (1999-2000)2013
Awards and Recognition
- Community Service Award, from Red Path Theater (Chicago), for my poetry scene publication, Tunnel Rat (1998).