Clash of the Geeks

Sometimes you buy books because of your past experiences with an author. Sometimes you get recommendations from friends about an awesome story and that leads to you picking up the book. For some people, the book is signed or numbered or leather-bound or some other aspect that makes it collectible and that makes them buy the book.

And sometimes there’s a kick-ass cover that you can’t resist.

Okay, I know that many of you are slightly horrified by the image above. There are so many things going on in that image that it can be hard to focus on any one thing.* But there is an awesomeness in its awfulness that can’t be denied.

* Me? I’m trying to ignore the fact that Wil Wheaton is wearing blue hot pants. There. Try to stop staring. I dare you.

If you don’t recognize the guys on the cover, the orc is acclaimed science fiction author John Scalzi and the guy riding the unicorn pegasus kitten** is none other than actor extraordinaire Wil Wheaton. The whole thing was put together by artist Jeff Zugale.

** Sweet lord, did I really just type that?

You’re probably wondering exactly what’s going on in this picture. Well, that’s the concept that Scalzi pitched to a bunch of writers, including Patrick Rothfuss, Catherynne M. Valente, Rachel Swirsky, video game designer Stephen Toulouse, science fiction balladeer Scott Anealio, and new writers Bernadette Durbin and Scott Mattes.*** Scalzi and Wheaton also offer their own interpretation of the cover.

*** They entered submissions with hundreds of other aspiring writers.

There’s two really cool things about this. First, the writing is good. I wouldn’t waste your time if the stories weren’t fun to read. The Valente piece is incredible. Rothfuss wrote in the style of epic poetry, which was weird because I’ve been reading Beowulf recently**** and I can say for certain that he has the style and tone of the epic poem down. It would have been easy for the content of this project to be quick-and-dirty, but it’s not.

**** My wife is taking a mythology class and they’re reading Beowulf, which just happens to be one of my favorite English-language pieces, so I decided to read it again. Really.

It’s also free. At this time, it’s only available electronically from Subterranean Press. But you can go to the Unicorn Pegasus Kitten website and download Clash of the Geeks for free. You might ask why. That’s the second reason why this is cool (no, being free, while cool, is not what makes Clash of the Geeks cool).

To quote from the website:

If you download the chapbook, we very strongly encourage you to make a voluntary payment for it, starting at the suggested amount of $5, although more will be appreciated. All money received for the chapbook (minus transaction fees) will be donated to the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America, a non-profit organization.

I can’t express how cool it is that these creative people got together to make a benefit anthology for lupus research. The project came about because Subterranean Press publisher Bil Schaefer’s wife suffers from lupus. She has her own donation page and is very close to her goal.

It always melts my bitter heart to see talented come together to help out others. I hope a bunch of you go and check out this fun anthology and get a good afternoon or two of reading out of it.

I also hope that some of you are moved to give money to this cause.


John Klima is the editor of Electric Velocipede is a big-hearted softy. Just ask his daughter (she can get him to do ANYTHING).

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