Although it is only their third year at Goshen College, C.C. Lilford, a double-major in creative writing and film production, is in the midst of writing an original sci-fi fantasy series. The series is titled “Temples to Alien Gods,” and it follows a crew of individuals in space on a quest to find the home planet of ancient aliens that are believed to have created all sentient life in the universe.
When finished, this piece will serve as Lilford’s senior project, one that they hope will be formally published in one form or another.
Currently, “Temples to Alien Gods” is being written via an online blog. The plan is to release the first three episodes on Friday, Jan. 25. Afterwards, a new episode will be released every month. The intent is for this to be a serialized story, similar to a Netflix show or the early works of Charles Dickens. You can read each episode on Lilford’s blog, templestoaliengods.blogspot.com.
As they grew up with classics such as “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” Lilford’s two main genres of interest have always been sci-fi and fantasy. Lilford said that “Temples to Alien Gods” will “also have some classic Western inspiration in the story as well.” The series’ direct inspiration comes from works such as the original “Stargate,” “Star Trek: The Final Frontier,” several episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies and “Thor: Ragnarok,” to name a few.
Lilford is a big believer in the Stephen King philosophy: “Write what you want to read.” The intended target audience for this series is anyone who likes space adventure stories that have witty banter. If you can embrace the sci-fi weirdness that this series brings, this is something you will enjoy.
“It’s a complex story with compelling characters, and they have interesting personalities that drive the story forward,” said Cristina Jantz, a junior who is serving as copy editor for Lilford’s work.
Lilford used to think that they would never write anything that people would read; they would write a story knowing that nobody was going to see it. However, when Lilford started to take more writing classes and began attending writing workshops, more and more people started to support Lilford’s work and they were wanting more.
“Temples to Alien Gods” has themes that romanticize ancient culture and questions the realities of history versus the myths that people are led to believe.
Lilford said that the series is big on representation as well. One part of the writing process for them was talking with various friends in the LGBTQ+ community. Many of them said that they just want a good old space adventure series where, for example, the captain and other characters just happen to be homosexual.
As it happens, Lilford’s favorite character they have ever created was a lesbian space pirate who first appeared in a short story written by Lilford in a writing class. When Lilford had the cast almost completely put together for “Temples to Alien Gods,” there was something missing, so they decided to add the space pirate into the story since this character received such positive feedback from readers in the past.
Lilford and Jantz are working hard to proofread each issue every month, making changes and ensuring that each episode is perfect before being released for public viewing.
“Anyone who knows me can say that typos drive me crazy, so it’s always good to have a project to work on,” said Jantz. “You each have different opinions on what should stay and what should be cut. In talking through that, you learn a lot about each other.”
As the series progresses, Lilford will pay close attention to audience feedback, evolving and further developing the story to make the final product as good as it can be for its final release as a senior project. A total of fifteen episodes have been written for the series and, according to Lilford, there are around five more episodes that need to be written before the story is complete.
Lilford said that this series will serve as something to show people—especially during their Los Angeles internship for film production—when they tell people that they are a writer. As a multimedia writer, Lilford has a variety of works to showcase, but they say that it would be a dream come true if a sci-fi magazine could pick up “Temples to Alien Gods” and release it as a series.