I told you that as preamble to saying it troubles me greatly that John Scalzi is apparently living rent-free in my subconscious.
— David Mack (@DavidAlanMack) May 2, 2015
Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category
21 Gwirith T.A. 3015
2nd Rock from the Red Sludge Pool
East Mordor, Middle-earth
Dear Ug Skullbiter,
Congratulations! You have been chosen to serve as expendable fodder in the legions of the Dark Lord. We know you have your choice of cruel despots to serve in Beleriand, and we are proud to know you have chosen to stand with us.
Here at Mordor, Inc., we believe that bloated olyphants and rabid, gibbering cave trolls are our greatest assets, but we understand that rank-and-file orcs have important roles to play in our ongoing mission of world conquest — for example, stopping arrows that might hurt the trolls and olyphants.
It is with that philosophy in mind that we are pleased to offer you the following:
- Position: Fodder
- Division: Third Expendable Infantry
- Salary: Semi-daily bowl of gruel
- Location: Mordor, Gondor, and parts north, west, and east
- Schedule: Whenever something bigger tells you it is
- Your hiring manager: Biggest living orc in your unit, or the nearest Uruk-hai
In exchange for your mindless, unquestioning service, we are thrilled to offer you the following highly competitive benefits package:
- One shield of irregular shape and dubious structural integrity
- One rusty bladed weapon
- A poorly tailored and needlessly heavy suit of armor
Before you report for duty, please be advised that Mordor, Inc. enforces a strict “zero-tolerance” policy. We have no tolerance for anything—not men, not elves, not dwarves, not hobbits, not even each other. If you say anything about anything, one of your comrades will probably not tolerate it and try to kick your teeth out. We encourage you to embrace this policy and do your part to uphold its traditions by being an intolerant, narrow-minded, doltish, violent thug.
We look forward to having you with us as we storm out of Mordor and lay waste to the Hugos with an ill-advised campaign of blatant slate voting. If you have any questions, please blow them out your hairy ass. Death to the social justice warriors!
Behold the secret musings of my imagination, in handy graphical form:
…is, as so eloquently stated by my brother-from-another-mother Dayton Ward, “You do not talk about Vanguard.”
Why am I bringing this up now? Because in this week’s installment of “Ask Dayton” on the long-running and fucking brilliant podcast The G&T Show, Dayton answered the following listener query:
When you, Kevin, and Dave were writing the Vanguard series, it seemed that it would be the last time we would be seeing many of the characters aboard the Endeavour and the Sagittarius. Many people died throughout Vanguard as a result of it. Now, with Seekers picking up where Vanguard left off, I wonder if there are any characters you could have saved for use in Seekers?
Dayton’s reply, in addition to being entertaining as hell, is also dead-on fucking perfect and accurate to the last detail. So, if you’ve ever wondered whether we’ll be resurrecting any Star Trek Vanguard story elements and characters in the new Star Trek: Seekers series of novels, here is your answer.
For those of you keeping score at home, I bring you this update on the current rankings of the Star Trek Authors’ Rush Homage Contest, or STARHC.
A quick refresher on the rules: References and in-jokes within the texts of our prose works are not counted, as they would be too numerous and obscure to keep track of. For this contest, we track only the number of titles (for novels, short fiction, and scripts) we have borrowed from Rush lyrics, song titles, and album titles. However, we do not limit our scoring to Star Trek novels; any work of fiction by a professionally published author of licensed Star Trek fiction is eligible.
However, as one might guess from the current Vegas betting line, there are really only two serious contenders for the top spot: Dayton Ward and yours truly.
As of September 2014, the scores stand at: Dayton Ward – 6; David Mack – 4.
Scores will be updated accordingly as future project titles are announced.
I recorded three videos for 2014 GISHWHES Item #177 — “A New York Times bestselling author or Tony-award-winning actor or actress doing a dramatic reading of a section of this: http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/right_of_way.htm — extra points may be awarded for creative staging.”
“Pedestrian Deaths” was recorded for Allie Jett, a friend of my wife’s pal Brenda. “Steep Road” was recorded for Rachel Burstein, sister-in-law to my friend and fellow author, Michael A. Burstein (who penned more than 60 micro-stories for GISHWHES Item #78). The third video, “Blind Person” was recorded for fun and was provided to several teams who wrote to me asking for my help.
Now that the scavenger hunt known as GISHWHES is ended for this year, it’s my pleasure to share with one and all the four pieces of microfiction that I wrote for various teams.
The terms of Item #78 were to obtain from a previously published sci-fi author a story of no more than 140 words that included Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and an elopus (an elephant-octopus chimera, the mascot of the hunt).
The first three I gave to teams what had one of their members send me a selfie with one of my books, just so I could know I was supporting folks who were my fans. The fourth I sent to a German GISHER who wrote me such a heartfelt letter that I couldn’t let her down, with or without a selfie.
It was a pleasure to write these tales, and I was glad to help some folks in their quest for GISHWHES glory. Let’s do it again sometime.
Now, without further ado, I present the stories … such as they are.
“The People’s Queen”
© 2014 David Mack
Cold wind swept over the bridge. The pistol trembled in Charles’ hand as he aimed at Diana and her lover, Misha Collins. “You’ve cuckolded me for the last time!”
Diana sprang forward, arms wide, to shield her inamorata. “Kill me, but don’t hurt Misha!”
“Save your breath. You’ll need it after I throw you in the Thames.”
He tensed to fire—then the elopus’s violet tentacle lurched over the side of the bridge and snared him in its fearsome grip. Caught in the beast’s trunk was the corpse of Charles’ mother. In a blur they both were gone, pulled down into the gray dredge of the river, their bones breaking like dry twigs in the monster’s embrace.
Misha looked at Diana. “If they’re both dead, doesn’t that make you Queen of England?”
She was positively giddy. “Yes, I believe it does.”
(written for GISHWHES team Lumptacular, requested by member Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe)
“The Cliffs of Dover”
© 2014 David Mack
“Majesty, we’re ruined! The Spanish Armada nears our shores!”
The Virgin Queen gazed east from the Cliffs of Dover, her mien placid. “Fear not, Walsingham. I have matters well in hand.”
“But Raleigh is slain, your grace! His ships are ablaze! We must retreat.”
“Spanish feet will not touch England’s green and pleasant lands, Sir Francis. Stand fast.” She pointed into the smoky distance, toward a churning vortex in the middle of the English Channel. “Look there. Our salvation arrives.”
Walsingham’s eyes widened. “By all that’s holy! Majesty, is that—? Can it be?”
“Yes—it’s the time-traveler Misha Collins, astride his invincible elopus Gishwhes. See how its tentacles crush our enemies? The forces of King Charles have blundered into our trap.”
“It’s a miracle!”
“No, Walsingham. It is victory by design. Prepare a feast for Misha and his monster.”
(written for Team Leaphard, requested by member Daniel Leaphard)
© 2014 David Mack
“What is it, Mister President?”
“An elopus, Your Majesty.”
“Begging your pardon?”
“An elopus. An elephant-octopus chimera.”
“If you insist. Pray tell, what is it doing in my throne room?”
“Eating the prime minister of Canada, I believe.”
“Allow me to rephrase: Why is it in my throne room?”
“It’s a gift. From the United States to the people of Great Britain.”
“You shouldn’t have.”
“It was our pleasure.”
“You mistake me. I spoke literally. You should not have brought this abomination here.”
“My apologies. Excuse me. … Steve! Pack it up. We’ll give it to the French.”
“I hate it, but I’ll die before I let the French have it. … Sergeant Major? Put it in Loch Ness.”
“Now then, President Collins, let us retire to the castle for dinner.”
“Please, Your Majesty—call me Misha.”
(written for Team E=MCHammeredLoves37027, requested by member Paloma Figueroa)
© 2014 David Mack
Misha Collins points across the fog-shrouded heath. “There.”
I focus the binoculars, and I can’t believe my eyes. A tusked, trunked, tentacled behemoth scuttles and slouches across the moor. “What the—?”
“Isn’t it magnificent? It’s an elopus.”
“I’d call it terrifying.” I spy the surrounding area. “What kind of bait-and-switch is this? You promised me exclusive photos of the Queen of England.”
A diabolical smirk distorts Misha’s handsome face. “There she is.” He notes my confusion and nods at the creature. “Elopi are shape-changers.”
“The queen’s been replaced by an elopus?!”
“She’s always been one. The entire House of Windsor is elopi.”
Visions of the front page dance in my head. “We’re going to be rich.”
I feel the tentacle around my throat and realize I’ve been deceived. Misha is one of them.
Damn him. Damn him to hell.
(written for GISHER Marina Ginsberg and her team with an impossibly long name)