30 years ago, when I was composing 30-word ads for the Los Angeles Reader's personals (something like a print version of Twitter or an internet chat room—with a two-week delay) I wrote: "So great was the force of the wind that the panther's hindermitten was forced into the Octopoid's forebrain. Then things got weird."
A year ago I expanded this into a short story wherein a giant, overly-talkative octopus/giant squid genetic construct, wearing a waterproof membrane, pursues a silent sapient she-panther up the east face of Mt. Whitney, chattering at her a mile a minute all the way. Asimov's Science Fiction and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction have rejected this story. I revised it last 2 weeks ago.
My question: How could I do this when I never even heard of you until this afternoon, when I turned to page 53 of the February 2010 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction? Where you influencing my mind 30 years ago?
Incurpotchelate Brecho, the Mad Librarian #9, AKA Luminator Thelms, AKA The Duke of Rossmore (back in 1982)
P.S. I can rewrite my short story about a giant octopus chasing a panther up the side of Mt. Whitney, to make it a giant squid with your name. But, from your point of view, it won't have a happy ending. Is that O.K. with you?
My Dearest Duke Rossmore, Ninth Librarian of Luminated Thelms, Earl of the Incorruptible Brecho, and General Man-of-Means,
Before we commence, please take a moment to forward my kind regards to the Duchess, your many dukelettes and dauphins, and all library patrons currently within the ear's shot.
Secondly, and in direct response to your expressed question, I note that you seem to have presumed a logical exclusion where none, of necessity, exists. Put simply, just because you had not heard of me, it is by no means the case that I had not heard of you. Likewise, we are, each and every, under any number of influences which we cannot name, and of which we have not heard and cannot comprehend. Should a developmentally delayed bird stumble from its nest, he will, without a doubt, plummet dirtward, despite his ignorance of the influence of gravity. Likewise, despite a refusal to acknowledge the influence of the law's of man, polygamist schismatic Methodists shall be obliged to pay their bigamy and library fines. And October's child, in general, will be born under the indefatigable tug of Gliese 581 c, despite knowing little of astronomy (for the most part), and being completely in ignorance as to the magnitude and nature of the chubby Gliesians' Force Ray apparatus, the device's range, and its probable effects on his/her likelihood of meeting a tall dark stranger during upcoming travel. It is simply in the nature of all beings to fall under the sway of forces which we cannot properly delve, plumb, divine, or dowse.
So it is with you, and likely (although hard to credit) with myself. For your part, think back upon those heated days in the City of Angeles of 1982, of the factors which may have contributed to your twittering a droll little arabesque of kittens and squittens. It was an odd little year, was it not? A jaunty little earthquake shook Dhamar, killing 1,507 humans. Time Magazine, for reasons unknowable, declared the computer its "Man of the Year," despite not being any sort of man—what more, this declaration was evidently made on the strength of the Commodore 64, which came to market that year. The United States entered its first Notable Economic Recession, the anthropomorphized Principality of Texas lethally injected its first presumably guilty criminal, and Mr.s Asimov and Robertson founded U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc. And, with respect to panther-squidishness, one cannot fail to mention Mr. John Carpenter's excellent documentary, The Thing, released in that very same year of 1982.
Clearly, you might have felt yourself under the sway of these, some of my larger cultural brush strokes of that season. But, as it is said, the Lord of Devils is in the details, and so it is to my detailed work I invite you to turn. Perhaps you recall a tow-headed, eight-armed shoe-shine boy who often chatted amiably on many a matter as he buffed a high gloss into the toes of your go-go 80s business wingtips? Or the rather rotund Mexican cleaning woman who hoovered your offices nightly, sloshing betwixt desks as she muttered profane Spanish lull-your-byes? Or your favorite short-order cook in that minuscule grease-spoon just off of Wilshire Boulevard, near to the Hancock Park, he of the jolly greetings and unlikely news stories and quit tall tales?
These all were I were me, and though I could not know the precise nature of the results my presence and influence would ultimately have on your psyche, I could rest assured that somehow, through some arcane set of human psychomorphic principles, my force would, in the end, make itself known.
And so, here we rest, in the endgame, when I can finally see that my rook has come home to roost, with your king lone and penned in the board's indefensible hinterlands. That a panther has entered the mix, while unforeseen, is all the more for my delights.
Of course, when the enormity of the conspiracy is made evident, one is left to wonder "Why? Dear Lord Simian Jesus, why?!?" and, I must confess, my reasons are simple: First and foremost, it was deathlessly youthful puckishness which drove me. I had recently retired from my role in the Gay Utopia, and with little to occupy my time—apart from eating surfers and aiding a neverdowell down-at-the-heels private investigator to solve crimes of passion—it seemed that I might "get the laugh" by setting to harrow a simple newspaperman.
Secondly, In 1981 I happened to inadvertently, and through no blame of my own, overhear a certain transtemporal telephone call indicating that your once and future granddaughter-in-law will ultimately rule over the Principality of Texas and much of adjacent Oklahomistan. As I hope to one day control a monopoly interest in coyote service across these several internal and international borders, I deemed it never too early to curry favor. Please remind your spawn to remind their grandspawn's spouses that "Poor Mojo's Giant Squid knew you back when."
Your Giant Squid
Post-Scriptorum: Please feel free to send your revised fiction along via our standard submission service; I am always interested in hearing tales of that which I might or might not have done, regardless of the outcome.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson