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John Scalzi et al. – Clash of the Geeks

October 19, 2010

Short Stories. Clash of the Geeks by Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, Catherynne M. Valente, Stephen Toulouse, Rachel Swirsky, Scott Mattes, Bernadette Durbin, and John Anealio (2010)

Length: 66 pages
Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy

Started: 24 September 2010
Finished: 29 September 2010

Where did it come from? From unicornpegasuskitten.com
Why do I have it? I heard about it from Patrick Rothfuss’s blog; plus it was released right as I was looking for free content (well, free-ish, they request a small donation that goes entirely to lupus charities) for my Kindle.

All you need to know:
Unicorn pegasus cat;
Lots of fun stories.

Summary: It started with a picture: Wil Wheaton, wearing a clown sweater, riding a unicorn pegasus kitten, hurling a spear at an orc-version of John Scalzi, on the slopes of a lava-riddled mountain. That picture was given to a variety of authors, and they were asked to provide a short short explaining what the hell was going on. The result is this e-chapbook, available for download for a fundraising attempt for charity.

Review: Hee hee. This collection is (obviously) entirely silly, and thus very, very fun. I really enjoyed the various authors’ takes on this single image, and seeing the different ways in which they accounted for the elements and their backstory was a bunch of fun. I particularly enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Lay of the Eastern King”, which is not a story but rather an epic Beowulf-esque poem (“Strong was his shield-arm / swift was his spear. / They called him King Wheaton / in praise of his beer.”), but every story had at least one element I really liked – the dabbling in the nature of prophecy in Catherynne Valente’s “This is How the World Ends”, and the poking fun at Wil Wheaton’s Star Trek past in Rachel Swirsky’s “The complex identity of the archetypal hero, a fictional treatise with unicorn pegasus kittens”… plus the “making of” interview with John Scalzi at the end had me rolling with laughter. Again, this is just about the farthest thing from serious literature out there, but: Wil Wheaton wearing a clown sweater. Plus it’s for a good cause. What more can you ask for? 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: There’s a fair number of inside-ish jokes, so I’d say those familiar with Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi, and/or one of the contributing authors are the most likely to enjoy it. But if the cover image makes you giggle, then it’s a fair bet that the stories will as well.

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Other Reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The path was narrow and small volcanic pebbles threatened to slip his feet from beneath him at every twist and turn.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • Location 133: “Pyroclastic lightning flashed and forked across and through it.” – relating to, consisting of, or denoting fragments of rock erupted by a volcano.
    .
  • Location 219: “Scalzi the Sharp-Tongue was welcomed by Wheaton / For Scalzi was sceop strong story-shaper.” – an Anglo-Saxon singer or musician who would perform in a mead hall
    .

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 8:40 am

    I love the concept! I bet the stories are pretty wild!

    • October 21, 2010 8:43 am

      bermudaonion – They are kind of crazy, and all over the map, too – from traditional fantasy to strange sci-fi to regular fiction to poetic edda.

  2. October 19, 2010 10:07 am

    Strong was his shield-arm / swift was his spear. / They called him King Wheaton / in praise of his beer.

    Patrick Rothfuss, I love you even more!!!

    • October 21, 2010 8:43 am

      Redhead – You should definitely read the whole thing; it’s pretty brilliant throughout.

  3. October 21, 2010 9:46 pm

    Patrick Rothfuss, can you get any better? Or perhaps I should say that after I actually read The Name of the Wind.

    • October 22, 2010 9:27 am

      Omni – Hee hee, yeah. It’s been long enough since I’ve read NotW that I think I might wait until all three books have been published, then start over at the beginning, because I *know* I’ve forgotten tons of critical details.

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