Saturday, July 17, 2010

Balding, Bearded, Pot-Bellied . . .



I just now had ne of those accidents that everybody assures you can't happeen on the Web, and destroyed today's post.

I've done my best to duplicate it.  But, let's be honest, the original has a charm which the duplicate cannot aproach

Chris Bridges described himself using the words in the title of the story. Is it any wonder I took an instant liking to him?

Here it is:

Balding, Bearded, Pot-Bellied . . .
by
Michael Swanwick
Chris Bridges was an ordinary man – balding, bearded, pot-bellied, and 45 years old. Not everybody would find this amusing. But he did. His sense of humor leaned to the absurd. And what could be more absurd than a balding, bearded, pot-bellied man? Particularly when he has been married for a full quarter of a century. And most particularly when that man is you.

A nice guy to hang out with, maybe. But never the hero of the movie.

Which made it ironic that when the Invaders’ mother ship landed and everybody ran screaming from their hideous war-machines, he was the one who went against the flow, stormed up the ship’s ramp, fought his way to the bridge, and (picking up on various cultural clues which were obvious to him because he was a science fiction fan) challenged the ship’s commander to single combat – with the fate of the invasion to hang on the outcome.

The commander agreed. “First. Mental. Prowess,” it said through a clumsy mechanical translator. A game board was brought out and the rules were explained. As a neophyte, Bridges was at a disadvantage at first. But it quickly became obvious that his opponent had been indulging in the alien equivalent of alcohol. Its thinking was sloppy. Its moves were rash. Bridges, who never drank, won handily.

“Now. Brute. Strength.” The designated warrior lumbered forward, stubbing out the alien equivalent of a cigarette under its third leg. Bridges, who didn’t smoke, realized instantly that its wind would be limited by the foul habit. All he had to do was to stay alive long enough and the creature’s lungs would do the work for him.

So it was that only hours after storming the mother ship, Chris Bridges emerged bloody but triumphant. There were banks of television cameras waiting for him. “I only did what anybody else would have done in my position,” he said modestly. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m anxious to get back to my family.”

When he got home, his sons were waiting for him. “We saw you on TV,” the younger one said.
“Yeah?” Bridges felt oddly pleased. “How did I look?”

His sons glanced at one another uncomfortably. Then the older one sad, “Well, you know . . .”


Above: David Hartwell and Chris Edwards, two Powers in science fiction who are also hucksters. Next time you buy a book, consider the very real possibility that the person behind the cash register may be somebody important to the literature you love.

2 comments:

Laurel Lyon said...

Us RSS subscribers got the earlier post though!

Ellen said...

I read the RSS feed in Google Reader, and can still see the first version of this post.

So far as I can tell the story is the same, the other parts are what's different.

For the curious here it is:

Some tuckerizees give you next to no information to work with. Others give you a ton of facts, none of which provide any traction whatsoever for creating a work of fiction. And then there's Chris Bridges, who described himself as "balding, bearded, pot-bellied and 45." Also the father of two sons.

My heart went out to the guy. And so I wrote . . .

[...story...]

*

Above: David Hartwell and Chris Edwards, two Powers in science fiction who are also hucksters. Next time you buy a book, consider the very real possibility that the person behind the cash register may be somebody important to the literature you love.


And the image is at:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JQPFKCTNJy4/TEEDSxRbuEI/AAAAAAAABGc/UoVqpBQ_x-w/s1600/IMG_0070.JPG