Friday, November 5, 2004

The Real Joshua Wander

I imagine my Joshua Wander character as looking a lot like this early Sherlock rendering of Rani. 'course, Rani's black and J.W. isn't, but the hair is similar.Cross-posted from Messages from Mâvarin:

If you've been reading my fiction blog all along (and who has?), you may recall an early posting about my favorite non-Mâvarin character (well, mostly non-Mâvarin), Joshua Wander. I also wrote about the character in my LiveJournal blog.

J.W. was the lead non-player character in a live D&D session in college, but I probably created him sometime before that, possibly in high school. In the live dungeon under the Vincent Apartments in Syracuse, Josh had a nemesis who called himself Xerxes Grayman, who blamed Josh for the death of his wife. Both characters became wizards more or less by accident after a science experiment went awry, killing the wife and sending J.W. tripping involuntarily through the multiverse. That much of John's story I managed to get on paper at about this time, but the full expression of his relationship with Xerxes pretty much came from the Vincent campaign.

The story went nowhere, but I used Joshua Wander extensively in D&D, though college and for a few years after that. Along the way he ended up with a castle with the same quantum(?) instability he had, called Toujours Chez Moi because he was able to take it with him from world to world. He also ended up with a daughter, Ariel Allegra. I don't remember who the mother was.

The only problem with the character is that I've never been able to get his story plotted and written. Someday I will, I hope, but probably not until I'm a lot less obsessed with Mâvarin than I am now.

Now, the names Joshua Wander and Xerxes Grayman were designed to be obvious pseudonyms. Joshua Wander's real name was Christopher Stein, and he was a college student when his story began. His professor, John Grayson, was the man destined to chase him from world to world.

So you can imagine my surprise when, a couple of years ago, a rather large family named Wander bought tickets at WorldwideTravel where I work. I checked the invoice. Sure enough, one of the passengers was named Joshua Wander. I felt as if my fictional character had stopped off in my reality, just long enough to remind me of his existence.

Well, I posted about all this in July. In August I heard from another real-world Joshua Wander, who'd Googled up his name and found the Blogger post. He is evidently not the man who bought tickets at Worldwide Travel, but, like that man, he does travel. In fact, like the fictional J.W., this second namesake travels a lot.

How do I know this? I just heard from him again. He wanted to let me know about his new club and web site, the D4DR Club. No, it has nothing to do with SUVs, at least not directly. D4DR is apparently the designation of what might be called the adventure-seeking gene. The purpose of the club is to reach out to other people with the "elongated" D4DR gene.

This real-world JW has strong symptomatic evidence of the adventure-seeking trait. According to the D4DR web site, he's been to 50 countries, and reported news from Iraq, Haiti, Northern Ireland and other "hot spots." There's more to the resume, but you get the gist. How appropriate - my most adventurous, well-traveled character has a real-world equivalent with many of the same traits.

Unless, of course, they really are the same person. ;)

And lest we think this is all a hoax (the thought did cross my mind!), a reporter named Josh Wander is all over the web, as a quick Google search reveals. One of the links was to an NPR story. When I saw that, I remembered that I thought I'd heard the name on NPR at least once, but decided I'd been mistaken.

The family name really is Wander, and the man is definitely a reporter in the Middle East and elsewhere. Josh Wander was also behind a controversial, possibly satirical proposal to return the Statue of Liberty to France, at about the same time as the nonsense about "freedom fries." He appears to take his Jewish faith and family ties very seriously, as may be seen on the Wander's Web site. Well, my Chris Stein is Jewish, so that fits, too. (It occurs to me now that I shouldn't have given a Jewish wizard character the first name Christopher, but I was young then, and didn't think it through.)

I'm not sure about that Statue of Liberty thing, though. I suspect that this J.W. andI may be worlds apart politically.

Then again, I never asked the fictional Joshua Wander for his opinions about France or Iraq.


1 comment:

ryanagi said...

Very interesting character you had appear out of the woodwork. LOL