The Adventures of Rocket Girl

rocketeer girl

Pin by Kyle – Found at Pinterest

“I’ll burn my ass off if I use this thing.”

“Have a little faith, Keisha. The uniform is fully heat-resistant, and besides, the thrusters work in combination with the Barsoonian charge infused in the rocket pack, so the amount of energy required to lift a person is much lower than it would have to be in your world.”

“You’re a great one for faith, Isaiah, but like I said, it’s my ass on the line.”

“I see a year away from our relationship, as you have lived it, has done nothing to improve your manners or your language.”

Sixteen-year-old Keisha Davis opened her mouth and shut it again. He was right about several things. Only a year had passed since she had last seen him, but for the engineer, it had been two decades, and he was now pushing sixty.

She trusted that he was also right that the rocket pack she was supposed to strap on her back wasn’t inherently dangerous, at least not because the thrusters sat just behind her behind. In the movies, these things looked impressive, but they’d also severely burn or kill the pilot without the mother of all protective panties or a liberal application of one million sunblock.

Keisha had also forgotten that her good friend didn’t live in a universe where high school girls said “ass.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a shot.”

She had already put on what he called “the uniform,” which was a pair of matching leather pants and boots, with a darker leather jacket that buttoned up the side. The gloves reminded her of the pair she had on the first time she’d flown the airship “Graceful Delight,” but although she’d had that experience just after her fifteenth birthday, the dirigible was from another era. Thinking about it made her miss her Grandpa again.

“Are you sure?” She had just finished strapping the pack on, and fortunately, the charge made it seem no more heavy than her school backpack. The ports on the back of the rocket harness hooked into those on her jacket, which used cables connecting to the controls mounted on her gloves. She’d read the basic flight instructions Isaiah had written for her, but having just finished flight school back home, she knew there was enormous difference between reading the “How To,” and practical experience.

“Are you sure you have the right girl?”

“You are one of the most courageous and capable people I know, and my family has not only come to depend upon you but implicitly trust you. You are the best person for the job.”

“Plus Josiah has a broken arm, Eralia’s a prisoner, and you’re getting too old to be jetting around the stratosphere.”

“I’d actually designed the rocket pack for my dear Leah. I have a great love for my son, and he’s become an engineer after my own heart, but it is clear to me that my daughter is the adventurer, very much like you are.”

“Your lab is guarded like Scrooge McDuck’s treasure vault. Are you sure no one’s going to see the rocket exhaust when I take off?” The blank look on the older man’s face told her she’d used the wrong metaphor with him this time. No “Duck Tales” in Dieselworld.

“I don’t know about the individual you have mentioned, but the skylight is open. Just use the Barsoonian charge to negate gravity, and allow it to carry you into the darkness above. A thousand feet should do it. Then activate the rocket. I’m counting on you to save her.”

“Leah’s going to be pissed when she finds out I got to test pilot the rocket pack before she did.”

“Your language aside, I’m sure she’ll come to forgive you since your task is to free her mother from captivity. We can only hope she safely returns from her own mission, which is just as hazardous.”

“She will. Like you said, she’s an adventurer. She kicks ass and takes names better than just about anyone in either universe.”

“Very well, Keisha. Here’s the helmet.”

“Art deco. Very nice.” She put it on. “How do I look?”

“I’m an engineer, not a fashion consultant. You’ve memorized the facility where my wife is being held, and in spite of your objections, you are armed, which is an absolute necessary. You’ve proved yourself a hundred times over, and I’m confident you’ll succeed. Then Tyson will no longer have a hold on me.”

“Got it.” It wasn’t her fault that corrupt millionaire industrialist Stanley Tyson had become a nuclear power, but he had gotten the designs and the prototype from her world. Otherwise, the atomic bomb might have never been invented here. But her world was responsible, and that meant Keisha had to do something about it.

She activated the Barsoonian charge and set its energy level to let her rise up and out of the skylight above her like a helium balloon. The high school student didn’t have an altimeter, so she silently climbed until she was above the cloud level. Then she pressed the twin thruster controls, lighting up the sky behind her with roaring flame. As she shot into the midnight-dark heavens, she cried out, “Rocket Girl rides again!”

After authoring Return to Dieselworld last week and Flight Girl in Dieselworld today, I thought I’d do this one just for fun.

I had no idea that Disney was planning on doing a remake or sequel of the 1991 film The Rocketeer using an African-American female lead. Of course, if it gets stuck in development hell, and if I can write and publish this fast enough, maybe I’ll beat them to the punch (that is, if I can manage not to get sued).

None of these “Dieselworld” stories are canon, and my Steampunk stories about Keisha are still being written, so this is deffo happening only in my dreams so far, but who knows? If I ever really do produce this idea into something marketable, I’m sure I’ll have to change a lot of things around.

I do like putting Keisha in a rocket pack. I like it a lot.

Oh, the image at the top was the closest I could come to finding an African-American female Rocketeer, but I’m not imagining a sixteen-year-old girl adventurer and engineer finding it practical to show a lot of cleavage while jetting around at 500 miles-per-hour and a thousand feet in the sky.

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8 thoughts on “The Adventures of Rocket Girl

  1. So how and when did you find out about Disney’s plans? The article you linked is from 2016, and you might have difficulty in court substantiating that you didn’t know about it before writing your story, thus becoming subject to the accusation that your work is a derivative infringement. And is the image at the head of this story connected with them in any way? On the other hand, if the Disney writers haven’t progressed as far as you have done, or Disney reps see your story published and like it better, maybe they’ll contract with you for the rights to use your version. Of course, yours is more difficult to adapt because it is dependent on background you’ve established in other stories, and it could be difficult to compress that into a standalone introduction for a Rocketeer story.

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    • I came across the story looking for African-American female Rocketeer cosplay. No, I would have to heavily adapt any use of a rocket pack in Keisha’s adventures, but on the other hand, Commando Cody used a rocket pack in the 1950s, and Lt. Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) on “Star Trek: Voyager” played rocket pack wearing “Captain Proton” on the holodeck, so I could probably think of something acceptable.

      The use of the rocket pack as I currently imagine it for a “Dieselworld” story wouldn’t be central to the tale, so probably not “Rocketeer” material. On the other hand, I don’t find Disney’s concept of an African-American female pilot circa 1942 becoming a “Rocketeer” to be very well rooted in the actual history of that era, so my story, occurring in an alternate universe, would be more “plausible.”

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      • Certainly not in 1942, given the experience of the Tuskeegee airmen, but Disney’s scenario is presumably set six years after WW2 concluded, into the Cold War period. I suppose that would coincide with the Korean Conflict (1951). I agree, though, that you would have more license to operate in an alternate universe. As for claims of story infringement, you’re right that the use of a rocket-pack has a sufficient pedigree to place it into the public domain. Putting it onto an African-American female might be sufficiently novel to raise some questions about “ownership” of the idea, though a court challenge probably would not be sustained if there were no other plot similarities. In all probability, Disney would wish to leverage portions of the original Rocketeer story, and maybe even some retro footage from the film, not to mention the original helmet and backpack props that likely are still available to them. So you’re right that they probably want to develop a story rather different from yours.

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  2. I just read through the comments following the 2-year-old article you linked about Disney’s plans for a Rocketeer sequel with a Fem.Af.Amer lead, and I was surprised by the racial reactions expressed there. I guess that living away from the USA for as long as I have done has made it seem strange to be so preoccupied with such matters. It did make me start thinking about how such a character would appear, depending on who was cast as the lead. I then juxtaposed that image with the cartooned one you found and placed at the beginning of your story above, and realized that the cartoon not only over-emphasized sexual characteristics, but virtually eliminated Af.Amer “racial” characteristics. The cartoon eyes are blue, not brown, which would be quite exceptional in an Af.Amer; and the nose is uncharacteristically diminutive and oddly-shaped. The straight, slightly-wavy hair might be dismissed as a wig, though I suppose severe chemical treatment could produce such a result. But overall, the cartoon is not really representing the supposedly-desired ethnicity in an appropriately-chosen actress. I’m not really sure, but it seems to me that this might be deemed at least mildly insulting. Even a mixed-ethnicity type, such as a young-adult version of Halle Berry (who is currently 51), wouldn’t fit such a caricature. I suppose an actress like Sonequa Martin-Green (currently age 33) of “StarTrek Discovery” illustrates that there does exist some subset of the Fem.Af.Amer population who might in some degree resemble the caricature.

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    • The image is in no way related to the article or Disney, it’s just something I found on Pintrest, no doubt created by a “Rocketeer” fan. The date on the image is 2009, so it was created before Disney announced its interest in a “Rocketeer” sequel or reboot.

      The woman in the image, looks like an African-American version of the Rocketeer’s girlfriend from the Dave Stevens comic books, who was drawn to look like pinup diva Bettie Page. Back in the 1940s (and into the 1960s), it wasn’t uncommon for African-American women to go to great lengths to make their hairstyles appear more “white,” so that probably explains the hair.

      Unfortunately, racial tensions (and a lot of other social/political issues) have become highly charged and polarized in the last decade or so in the U.S. I didn’t read the comments in the article, and if I get the time, I probably should go back and do so.

      I certainly don’t oppose the idea of having a diverse collection of characters in a story, whether set in the present or in some other place and time, but I do think we should be mindful of how and why we do it. If it’s just for the sake of appearing “progressive” without any consideration to logic and history, then the project will turn out like the recent films “A Wrinkle in Time” and the “Ghostbusters” remake. In both cases, the source characters were reimaged from men to women (Ghostbusters) or to people of color (Wrinkle) for no apparent reason, and didn’t seem to add anything to the stories being told.

      Of course, sometimes there can be very good reasons for reimaging a classic character as a different gender or racial/ethnic background, one being to explore the impact of racism, sexism, or how a someone from a varied background would operate differently in a given circumstance.

      Speaking of racism, I just recently viewed the 2017 film “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (which was excellent, by the way), and in doing some background reading on the movie, I discovered that a few fans had threatened the film makers if they depicted Spider-Man’s alter ego as anyone but Peter Parker and white. One of the more recent variations on the character is Miles Morales, who is an Afro-Latino teenager, and there were “concerns” that’s the direction Disney/Sony would go.

      There seems to be a fine line in how iconic characters can be treated or updated and the pushback from the fan base. I like playing with new ideas and changing people and situations around just to see how they work out, but I can’t say I’m a fan of doing so just to protest the fact that 50 or 60 years ago, comic books reflected the cultural norms of that day, meaning that the majority of characters were white Americans.

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      • I notice that you used the words “sequel” and “reboot”. There was a discussion of sorts in the comments to that linked article, in which one character insisted on defending the notion that “reboot” could mean virtually anything that related to an original story, while another insisted that such a broad usage was simply wrong. I side with the latter, because the history that gives the word “reboot” any meaning at all is that it was coined to describe the process of starting or restarting a computer from an ab-initio state. The image was borrowed from the notion of getting dressed at the beginning of a day’s work, which was summarized as “putting on one’s boots” (though that was probably the final task in the process). Therefore, broadening the term to describe a “reboot” of a story, would have to mean starting over to define characters and situations and background, thereby representing a different story from the original that was being “rebooted”. A “prequel” or “sequel” must use an existing story as its base, to tell of prior or subsequent history surrounding the original story. Misusing the term “reboot” to describe a sequel denatures the meaningfulness of the term. Now, it would be possible to formulate a “sequel” that is based on a “reboot” of the original story; in other words to tell a story of subsequent events that would have followed a different version of the original story, but then the sequel must somehow include a summary of the revised original, in order to make any sense. But it is only that alternative version of the original story that may be called a “reboot”.

        Some folks think that language is so fluid that current usage defines it utterly. The problem with such a view is that it cannot recognize the notion of usage that is mistaken or wrong. It lacks any standard of evaluation. It takes us into that “Alice in Wonderland” world in which Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty character could say: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” The problem then is, of course, if Humpty Dumpty is the master of words, then anyone else who does likewise will likely conflict with his definitions, and neither will understand the other. Hence language requires agreement on the meanings of words; and the only way to agree with those who are no longer present to discuss their meaning is to become familiar with their historical meaning and usage. Only thus can prior literature continue to be understood; and thus current users must constrain themselves to accept and maintain prior meanings, and more-commonly-understood meanings, rather than to play Humpty Dumpty.

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      • I skimmed through the “reboot” vs. “sequel” debate and focused on the “race” discussion. Yes, words have meanings, but it seemed like a pointless argument, and I wonder what passes for lives for some of the commentators.

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