The Bulldawg Universe

I’m a huge fan of the Bulldawg Maker and Bulldawg Unit and have an idea for a few stories in the universe. But after re-reading through them and talking with my military mentor a few things didn’t sit well with us.

First is the body type, both Absman and Hypnothrill describe everyone as developing a bodybuilder physique. All of the military branches have PT (physical training) tests where you have to do a certain number of push-ups, sit-ups, and run a fixed distance within a certain time. This leads to a lighter physique than a bodybuilder; a bodybuilder physique is an actual hindrance to combat forces. One can chalk it up to fantasy but it’s something that when you actually look at things it doesn’t sit right.

Second is the total enlistment numbers of Marines vs. the other branches. This applies more to Absman’s original story as it closes with the whole Iraq War enlistment. The Marines has a lower total of enlisted men than the other branches (186,000 vs 470,000 in Army and 320,000 in Navy and Air Force); what this means is the turnover is lower for Marines than the other branches and would make it harder for Bulldawgs to go into the actual Marine Corps as there is the problem of hitting the cap. The Baghdad surge line at the end may help change that, but the lower numbers really raise the question of how many of the Bulldawgs could actually make it into the Marines.

Third is the age requirement for the Marines; Marines take young people between 18 and 28, so what really happens to the fathers and other guys older than 28 that appear in both stories. Those high school football players and college students like Brad could make it through to Marine boot camp, but what happens to fathers like Kevin because of this? I think this is the credit to both Absman and Hypnothrill who have made such great worlds and has me thinking about them on a serious level and engaging with them.

So those are my points about the works; feel free to respond to these ideas.

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I can only speak for myself–and of course, I was only playing in the sandbox that Absman420 created–but for me, I did not intend the story to be read on such a realistic level. For me, it’s not a story about the actual needs of the US military. It’s a story about the rise of militarism in American society and why that’s both arousing and frightening. Keep in mind the time period when Absman’s story was written; there was a lot of popular support for US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there was a pretty rabid “Support our troops!” sentiment. At the same time, you had video games like America’s Army, which were clearly intended as propaganda tools for the US military (and which I’m parodying a bit in “Bulldawg Unit”).

Basically, this is an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “Stepford Wives” type of story, and both of those premises would also fall apart if you look at them from a practical, logisitical level. But I think they work on a more symbolic level, and that’s how I approach the “Bulldawg” universe.

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Thank you for your response. I get your point of view as both your story and Absman’s about the Support our troops and America’s Army game and it is there in both stories. But both stories put the explicit sentiment right at the end. You put the pod person reference at the end, making the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” clear as day there. And true you do need to move away from reality to have the story work. But it’s interesting that you bring up “Stepford Wives” because there it is the husbands who are making the wives into robots to make them fit the whole 50s housewife motif. In both “Bulldawg” stories we don’t know who exactly is behind this transformation and why. The benefit of the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “The Puppet Masters” to bring in another example is the alien allows motive to be subsumed into the alien, it is just the nature of the alien to spread and take over humans. But with “Stepford Wives” and “Bulldawg” we know it is another human (or humans) behind this and the question of why comes up to a reader like me.

I guess it’s my time reading narratology and possible worlds theory as a student that has me reading works and considering the premises of the story; if I am doing that, it means you’ve written something that makes me think. So it’s a sign of quality writing that you and Absman made me think about the story on this level. In the literary universe of “Bulldawg”, you can consider whatever stories I write as outlying planets in the system.

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I’ve got a book chapter that should be coming out later this year (in a now very timely volume entitled “Embodying Contagion: The Viropolitics of Horror and Desire in Contemporary Discourse”) that articulates my thoughts about the kind of narrative structure we see in “The Bulldawg Maker.” I don’t talk about that story specifically, but I do talk about its close relation, “Cycle One,” along with Wrestlr’s “Infilration” series and MagusX’s “Four Weeks Later.” If you shoot me a reminder in the next few months, I can send you the proofs of the chapter.


I’d be interested in the book the chapter appears in; if the entire book has some interesting work I’d be willing to buy a copy (physical or e-book). But I’ll send you an e-mail sometime soon.