First and Second Courses

The Second in the “Song of Stupidity and Dreck Series”

I’ll continue to report on my lunch with my editor, Sam Hughes. The first part can be found here.

The First Course

One of the workers of the Tavern Club came out into the room in which we were sitting and said, “Luncheon is served”. Everyone got up and moved into the dining room, where there was a large central table that could sit perhaps fifty people. As there were only twelve of us sitting down to lunch, we naturally broke up into the small groups we had maintained while having drinks. Sam Hughes and I were, therefore, able to continue our conversation with reasonable privacy.

“So, let’s talk about this platform you’re proposing,” said Hughes, passing me a large basket of rolls, “these fantasy worlds, once created, can be wonderfully lucrative, but they must be well constructed. We have to make sure your world provides a solid foundation for the economic superstructure we hope to fashion upon it.”

It should be noted that Hughes always pronounces the word “fantasy” as “fontasy.” This mispronunciation is, I think, an affectation he adopted after reading the LiveJournal of larrondo. I’m not sure how Sam Hughes came to read Larrondo’s journal, but he is remarkably well read, so it doesn’t surprise me that his is familiar with the Golden Age of LiveJournal.

The watron brought out the first course, vichyssoise, and set it before us. The soup was served in mismatched bouillon bowls. Hughes immediately discarded the spoon given to him and picked up the bowl by its handle to drink his soup. He continued, saying “… right now, of course, G.R.R. Martin’s world is hot, hot, hot. I could draw a map of Westeros on the back of a paper napkin and sell it for $50. People can’t get enough of that stuff. Have you read those books, Gutbloom?”

“No, I haven’t,” I said and ate some of my soup. It was very good vichyssoise. Perfectly pureed and not too salty. You could tell that the leaks and cream used to make it were fresh.

“If you had said “yes”, I was going to ask you if you had finished them. That’s a joke, see, because you couldn’t have finished the Song of Ice and Fire because Martin hasn’t finished writing them… and why would he? If you had a golden goose like that would you cut its neck open just because everyone was clamoring to see it’s innards? No, of course not. Not unless you were J.K. Rowling, and like all rich people, she’s lost any reasonable sense of money.”

I wasn’t really sure what he was saying, but it didn’t matter because the soup was so good. The cream was so fresh that it still smelled of grass. I was intoxicated by the leeks.

“The only problem with the Martin books is that he sometimes goes on and on and on about food. You haven’t read them, but when you do you start to dread the wedding and feast discussions because you’ll end up reading five pages about the juice of roasted squab being soaked up in a beer basted trencher, and other rot like that. You’re not going to have any discussion food on the platform, are you, Mildew? I can’t stand discussions of food.”

I looked down at my empty soup bowl. “No,” I said, “I have no plans for discussing food.”

“Good,” he said, “food is for eating, not talking about. Aha, here come the clams casino.”

The Second Course

While we were eating clams he asked me.

“So, he said, “I want you to explain this world to me, but I only want the high concepts because we are eating and I really have no interest in fontasy worlds, no matter how profitable they are, so when I say ‘less’ it means cut to the chase and let’s get this over with, OK?” He smiled a most disarming and pleasant smile. As soon as I began talking he went back to his clams.

“The world is called Misamaguntuck, and indian place…”

“Less,” he said, not looking up from his clams, “I don’t care about all of the fontasy names or fontasy languages, they are so boring to me. Tell me the main character.”

“There is a young man named Sterling Macy who is walking along tenth avenue in New York…”

“How does he get into the fontasy world?” Hughes asked.

“Through a bar,” I said.

“Good!” said Hughes, “Why?” he asked.

“He’s following the ass of a Fairy.” I said.

“You mean ‘ass’ like a donkey?”

“No, like a posterior.” I said.

“Is the Fairy male or female?” He asked.

“Female.”

He grimaced and looked up from his clams, which were nothing but shells now anyway. “That’s a problem”, he said, “Remember, we’re working for Silver Trout publishing, and if this is some fontasy wrapped beer commercial of tits, ass, and labotamized nymphos in plate mail and bodices we are dead in the water. This is a post gamer-gate world you’re creating. The Gray sisters have no interest in underwriting more soft porn. We have the backlist for that. I take it there is sex on this fontasy platform?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Good. There has to be sex. Sex sells, after all. Sex sells almost as well as cats, but remember who we are working for.”

“I don’t think it will be a problem,” I said.

The basket of rolls was passed around again. There was one beautiful roll that looked like it had been glazed with lye, like a genuine German pretzel. I pointed to it and asked Hughes, “do you know what kind of roll that is?”

He said, “I thought we weren’t going to have any discussions of food.”

“Oh, yes,” I said, “sorry.”

“This main character of yours, is he a hero?” Hughes asked.

“No, he’s an injenue.”

“’Injenue’ as in, ‘an innocent representative of everyman’, or ‘injenue’ as in, ‘I haven’t fleshed out this character and made him real so, for now, he’s a cipher of the author’?”

“I would have to say the latter,” I replied.

“Excellent,” said Hughes. “I like this platform better already! Here comes the salad.”

Continue: Salad and the Main Course.

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