Course Materials

Actual Research

There are some things that I have decided that I just need to look up for my book. During school, from second grade onwards, there was one thing that my English and math teachers always agreed on: You need to show your work. They had different reasons, of course. With the math teachers the logic was that if you showed your work, they could tell if you needed help or not. After all, coming to the right answer in the wrong way is way worse than getting it wrong. For English, there are two reasons. The first is that if you don’t cite your sources (which I view as a form of showing your work) you could be accused of plagiarism. I was going to make a joke about it, then I realized plagiarism is not funny. It’s also really hard to spell, but that’s not the point. The other reason English teachers want you to show your work is that in a paper, teachers are supposed to grade you on how you proved your point, not what it is. Normally in fiction, especially sci-fi and superhero stories like this, readers don’t care about how real something is. However, my audience is on the internet. They will find some minute flaw and complain about it. This way, I can look at my secret list of sources and say, “Ha! This says I’m right!” Also, this is sort of like Tom Clancy meets [insert name of book I forget the name of] and since I don’t have any military, intelligence or police experience, I’ll have to do a ton of research.

Longform research

Stuff you’ll have to set a chunk of time to look over.

  • Sun Tzu’s The Art of War- I’m using a version published by Oxford Press published in 1963. It is listed as being by, rather than being translated by,Samuel B. Griffith due to the fact that Mr. Griffith added several chapters that shed some doubt that Sun Tzu was even a real person. If you just read the part that Sun Tzu wrote, you will notice two quotes that influenced me and the creation of Nathan Jacobs: “All war is based on deception,” and “Feigning weakness requires strength.”

Short Research

This is stuff that only takes a few minutes.

  1. The gear soldiers carry. Prod. Seattletimesdotcom. YouTube. Google, 16 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <>. A quick look at the stuff US soldiers carry into battle.
  2. The War Room’s Official Sources and references thread. Spacebattles Forums. <>. A place where a bunch of military nerds and armchair generals congregate to share wisdom.
  3. Spacebattles Military Commentary. Spacebattles Forums. <>. Same place, more first-hand knowledge.
  4. INSANE Russian Counter Terror Confidence Dril. Vickers Tactical. Youtube. Google. <>. Yep, pretty insane. Also the kind of things I would imagine NIU having people do in the Hell Semester.

  5. “Hammer Fired vs. Striker Fired.” Firearms History, Technology, and Development. Web. April 6, 21015. <>. An idea of how guns work. Becomes important in Volume 4.


I believe there are three ways to create something original. The first is to look at a genre and ask a question no one else asks. The second is steal from at least three sources and throw them and your own ideas into a blender until you can’t tell where one ends and one begins. I chose the third which is a mix of the two. Here is where I’ll tell you what went in the blender.

  • Harry Potter seriesI’m not going to tell you how wonderful this series is, because everyone else has already told you. I will say that Hogwarts is such a cool place that, like Rapture and Columbia from the Bioshock series that it deserves to be listed as a character. NIU has some similarities to Hogwarts in that it is a magical place (albeit metaphorically) full of secrets, danger, and wonder. Also, it is a very special school for very special people.
  • Worm The second-best superhero story. I love the grey on gray morality. I love how so many people are trying to do what they feel is right and end up fighting not because of misunderstandings or black-and-white morality like in lesser superhero works, but because they genuinely feel the other side is wrong. I love how almost everyone in that universe can set aside their differences when the stakes are high enough. But most of all, I love Skitter. She is an amazing, nuanced character that is even hard for me to place her. Is she a fundamentally broken person who would fall apart without the support of her friends? Is she Machiavelli’s ultimate disciple? Is she the savior of the Multiverse? Is she a hero? A villain? Something tells me even she doesn’t know. But what I do know is that she will never be made helpless again, and she will always do her best to help those in need. Congratulations, Wildbow, you marvelous, mysterious being from the north.
  • Ultimate Spider-man Ultimate Spider-man is the ultimate Spider-man. Ultimate Peter Parker is the ultimate Peter Parker. Ultimate Aunt May is the ultimate Aunt May. In fact, every time I think of Spider-man, I think of Brian Micheal Bendis’ run on Ultimate Spider-man. Whenever I want inspiration for witty dialogue, I go to Ultimate Spider-man. Whenever I want to look at angst or teenage drama done right, I go to Ultimate Spider-man. Ultimate Spider-man is the ultimate super-hero story.

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