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Neo-opsis cover: Issue 8 2005: Hell of a Salesman

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My name is Marcia Hammerhead, cultural editor and reporter for the Faux News Network. Despite my known preference for literary works, the publisher insists I interview an unknown scribbler of genre fiction, Hank Quense. With great reluctance, I have managed to read this so-called author's book, Tales From Gundarland.

Marcia: What is Gundarland and where is it?
Hank: It's a large country in a parallel universe that's rather close to ours. In fact, it's only a wormhole or two away. It is populated by dwarfs, elves, humans, half-pints, yuks and other races. This is also the universe that has the despicable zaftans. It's only a matter of time until the alien zaftans and the gundarlandians meet. The results of the meeting will be unpredictable.

Marcia: I was shocked to discover the book has plots. Why did you use plots? Plots are so 20th century. Modern literature demands plotless stories.
Hank: Plots are timeless. Homer used them 3500 years ago and 3500 years into the future, stories will still use plots. Without plots, the characters wander around wondering what they are supposed to be doing. Plotless stories are like bloodless people. My book is a collection of six short stories and two novellas and I'm happy to announce that every one of them has a plot.

Marcia: How disgusting. Moving on, you mutilated two of Shakespeare's most beloved plays. Can't you come up with your own stories? Why plagiarize one of the most famous writers in the English language?
Hank: Shakespeare's plays were written in the 1500's and are almost unreadable. They cry out for an update and that's what I did. I like to think that I made Shakespeare more accessible to modern readers.

Marcia: Do you plan any more Shakespearian perversions?
Hank: Right now, I'm working on a first draft of a masterpiece. It'll combine the plots and characters from Othello and Hamlet with another character, Falstaff. It'll be a novella and probably top out at 35,000 words. I think Shakespeare would applaud my efforts to update his plays. In this case, Hamlet is a dwarf prince, Othello is a dark elf and Falstaff is himself, a human rogue.

Marcia: If that isn't chutzpah, I don't know what is. You used a self-publishing option to get this collection published. I suppose no regular publisher would touch this rubbish. True?
Hank: I'm not sure, since I didn't try very hard. I've used publishers in the past and what happens with them is I get to do all the work and they get the keep almost all the money. Bummer. With self-publishing, I get to keep most of the money. Big difference.

Marcia: And how is this trash selling?
Hank: It's a best seller on Zaftan 31B. Unfortunately, the aliens burn the book and use the ashes in a pornographic ritual. But I like to think the zaftans read the stories before burning it. In Gundarland, it's selling well and some of the characters have reached rock-star fame. This is especially true for Burga the Warrior-Cook and Zarro, the dwarf hero. Their agents are negotiating tour contracts.

Marcia: I find it incomprehensible that this collection receives awards. It must be symptomatic of a general decline in literature and taste.
Hank: Many readers find my stories entertaining.

Marcia: Do you plan more assaults on the mother tongue and literature in general?
I plan to release a novel early next year. It's called Zaftan Entrepreneurs and it's a first contact book. A zaftan mining ship discovers Gundarland and tries to plunder its mineral wealth. This angers a dwarf miner and he declares war on the aliens.

Marcia: That certainly is bad news since my editor may want me to interview you again. Now that I've been warned, perhaps I can develop a way to avoid that onerous task. This is Marcia Hammerhead, cultural reporter extraordinaire signing off and apologizing for subjecting you to this author's drivel.



© 2008 Hank Quense