Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Abandoned Objects

The Clarion West Write-a-Thon continues with another comissioned Tuckerization by your truly, this one commissioned by Eileen Gunn.  Here it is:

Abandoned Objects

Each year 40,000 tons of matter is added to the planet Earth's mass.  It came from intraplanetary space, from the Oort Cloud, from the dark spaces between the stars and the darker spaces between the galaxies.  It was Eileen Gunn's strange fate to know where it all wound up,  in jumble shops and second-hand stores, where it stayed because nobody wanted any of it:  A broken umbrella designed to shed methane rain which melted in the presence of water.  A globe of Venus with Lakshmi Planum inexplicably transportred to Ishtar Terra.  A gribbik, an eleven-fingered glove, and two zorches only one of which could speak.  A Kyrellian space-time pocket device in need of a plonk, two beeblefroxen, and an infinite power source.


Gunn felt sorry for them all, and bought them, and brought them home with her.  Very soon her house was filled to bursting with sneebles and pramps, transdimensional crutches, unmated socks, hyperbarrel organs, and an uluua'i-a-ouia in bad need of temporal rectification.  Her friends and loved ones staged an intervention.

"This is nothing but useless crap," Lucius began.

"Hey!" said a zorch.

"Present company excepted, of course."

"The gronkilizer scares me," John said.  "I think it's plotting something."

"What on earth is this for?" Leslie asked, holding up something purple and glowing.

"That's used on Rigel for coming-of-age rituals," the zorch said.  Its companion nodded.

"You see?" Gunn said.

"It's to ensure that none of the sexual partners get to plant more eggs in the body than -"

"Ew!"  Leslie dropped it.   

"Does any of this stuff even work?" Nisi asked.

"The vrombler does," the zorch said, "and the garbage disposal."

"Garbage disposal?" John asked.  "Will it get rid of all this junk?"

"Oh yes.  Just push that red button."

After brief consultation, and over her fervid protests, Gunn's friends did exactly that.
The black hole that the device generated took care of her trash problem in nanoseconds.

And the rest of the Earth in not much longer.



David Stone said...

You seem to be feeling the spirit of Douglas Adams strongly this week.

Or maybe it's just that HHGTTG sometimes reads a lot like a bunch of short shorts stitched together into a novel. (To me anyway- not that there's anything wrong with that of course.)

Michael Swanwick said...

Nothing wrong with that at all. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that the Guide was at its most brilliant as a radio drama.

But if you want the original for that kind of silliness -- and I'm sure Adams would agree with me here -- you should go to the works of Robert Sheckley.

I was at Sheckley's funeral. It was a profound experience. I like to think that Adams and Sheckley are in Writer's Heaven right now, sitting at the bar and trying to one-up each other.

David Stone said...

I hate to admit it, but I'm not too familiar with Sheckley. I'm sure I've read at least a couple of stories by him, but I couldn't tell you what they are at this point... I will have to do something about that.

After reading RA Lafferty's "Nine Hundred Grandmothers" I wondered if that wasn't another inspiration for Adams.

Its funny how you read something as a kid and think it's a unique and immortal work of genius, then you find out the author's predecessors and contemporaries (who almost no one has every heard of) are every bit as good.

Eileen Gunn said...

Thank you, Michael! Your story captures both the depth of my need to adopt unloved objects and the resulting chaos in my living room.... How did you ever know?

Oh, wait -- you've visited my living room.


I'm pleased to report that I found a third beelefrox at a thrift store just yesterday, and am hoping they will breed.