1 Apr 2008

Revealed: The origins of my feud with Jeff VanderMeer

It all seemed so promising.

Jeff VanderMeer called me a while back to ask if I would submit a story to his upcoming Squidpunk anthology.

"Check it," he said, "yous should send me your junk about squids and that, innit. That would be well wicked."

Although he seemed to have adopted an unusual patois, I agreed, especially when I learned he would pay several thousand dollars immediately. I had been working on the perfect story for several months, so I gave it a final look over and sent it off.

A week later, I received a call from the lost and found desk at Wiggles World asking if I had mislaid a small child. Which was peculiar, since I have never been to Wiggles World and, due to a restraining order, the details of which are too boring to relate here, am unlikely to ever visit. Look, that bloody captain was asking for it OK?

Anyway. I get off the phone and it rings again. It's only Jeff VanderMeer swearing like a sailor who's just been beaten up by a nun. All very incoherent - something about legal action, emotional distress and potentially damaging his career.

"I iz emence disappointed wiv ya story. hit makes me sad. I is gonna pop a cap yo checkit - booyakasha."

At least he had abandoned that ridiculous accent.

His main criticism seemed to be that the story was nothing more than various parts of Austen, Conrad, Dante and Beatrix Potter, mashed together, with several words replaced by "squid". In addition, while he was looking for a short story, the manuscript was 9000 pages long. The second part of the book was 200 pages of a diatribe against a children's entertainer dressed as a pirate, mainly consisting of scatalogical references unencumbered by punctuation. The rest of the manuscript pages just had scribbles in the bottom corner.

"That's just nitpicking really," I said. "It's all post-postmodern. I think you're missing some of the subtleties I've got in there. And if you flip those last pages really fast it looks like the little cow is dancing."

More swearing, more legal threats. I think he was crying at one point. Anyway, long story short, he has elected not to include my story in his anthology.

Still, Jeff VanderMeer's loss is d1sc0r0b0t's gain. I have elected to post the story, in its entirety, over several blog entries. Actually, it's going to be about 6000 entries, some of which may be illegal in various countries. Nevertheless, I am prepared to suffer for my art and so should you. Therefore I present:

À la recherche du Calmar perdu, or the eternal war between the big robots and the even bigger robots who are slightly different.

To Captain Feathersword.
Give me back my boots you fake pirate.

Chapter 1 - The Gathering Storm

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in
possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a squid.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their squids. Some men, fearing the many tentacled embrace of a repressive society take to wearing hats beneath which they conceal several pounds of salt.

No, says society, that's snails you muppet.

"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his squid to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"

Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.

"But it is," returned she, extending a tentacle to grasp a small baby who had strayed too close and crunching it in her beak; "for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it."

Mr. Bennet made no answer. Somewhere, a hamster exploded.

"At this moment I heard Kurtz's deep voice behind the curtain: 'Save
me!--save the squids, you mean. Don't tell me. Save _me!_ Why, I've had to save you. You are interrupting my plans now. Sick! Sick! Not so sick as you would like to believe. Not as sick as that time me and Crucible Jones went out to that restaurant, you know, the one by the thing. Man, we were slaughtered that night. When I woke up the next morning I had eaten all the soap in the house. Never mind. I'll carry my ideas out yet--I will return. I'll show you what can be done. You with your little peddling notions, your needling peddles, your noodling poodles--you are interfering with me, and not in a good way. I will return. I. . . .I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you meddling kids'"

"And what are those long yellow things with fingers like gloves?"

"Oh, that's a pair of stockings belonging to Sally Henny-penny—look how she's worn the heels out with scratching in the yard! She'll very soon go barefoot!" said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle.

And I, who had my heart well-nigh pierced through, said, "My Master, now declare to me what folk is this, and if all these tonsured ones on our left were clerks."

And he to me, "All of these were so asquint in mind in the first life that they made no spending there with measure. Clearly enough their voices bay it out, when they come to the two points of the circle where the contrary squid divides them. These were clerks who have no hairy covering on their head, and Popes and Cardinals, in whom avarice practices its excess. And those guys over there are builders. We're knocking out the wall over there so the living room flows right into the kitchen. Hello Nigel!"

And I, "Master, among such as these I ought surely to recognize
some who were polluted with these evils."

and he said to me, "Dude, that's pretty messed up. Here, smoke some of this."

Spider Man
Spider Man
Does whatever a spider can
don't squash him
he's not actually a spider
but he is pretty cool
when you think about it.

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