New Publication: Clash of the Geeks.

When The Name of the Wind came out back in 2007, something strange started to happen. Occasionally someone invited me to write something, usually a story for an anthology.

It was a new experience for me. But despite the fact that I was flattered, I turned all the invitations down saying, “I don’t really write many short stories. Besides, I really have to work on getting my second book out.”

I didn’t meet that first deadline for book two for various reasons. But still, I felt like turning down those offers was the responsible thing to do. I was trying to behave like a grown-up, you see.

In 2008 the paperback came out and I hit the New York Times Bestseller list. Because of that I got even more attention. Offers to write comic books, video games,  and more invitations to anthologies.

Again, I turned them down, saying, “I don’t have much experience writing short stories. Besides, I really need to focus on book two.”

A lot of these offers were for really cool anthologies, mind you. It was hard to turn down the chance to be published alongside some other big-name authors. Still, I felt morally obliged to refuse and focus on book two. I was trying hard to be a professional.

I continued along these lines until early this year when Suvudu held their cage match. They paired up various fantasy characters in head-to-head fights. I was flattered that Kvothe was included, but looking at the brackets, I saw that if Kvothe made it to the second round, he’d have to go up against Aslan.

That’s not an easy fight to win, and I kept thinking about how the scene would play out. How exactly, I wondered, would Kvothe win that fight?

Then the folks at Suvudu asked if I’d like to write up my version of the scene. So I did.

And you know what? It was fun. It was amazingly, delightfully fun. I’d actually forgotten how nice it was to write something just for pure shits and giggles. It didn’t eat up my precious writing time as I’d been fearing. Instead, it reminded me how much fun writing could be.

I thought to myself, “Fuck being a grown-up. I started writing to have fun. Now that I’m published, I should be doing fun things…”

And you know what? As soon as I gave up trying to be all professional and responsible (things that don’t come naturally to me, as a rule) my writing immediately improved. I wrote faster, and better, and I had more fun doing it.

Fast forward to earlier this year. I get an e-mail from John Scalzi. He sends me an e-mail that says (This is a paraphrase, mind you.)

Question: Would you have space on your schedule for a short (about 2K) story? It would be for a short (silly) story collection designed to raise money for the Lupus foundation. Deadline end of July-ish. Story doesn’t necessarily have to be “good” in a classic sense; in fact, it might be better if it’s not.

I think to myself. This sounds fun. It’s for charity. It’s short (I can do 2000 words standing on my head.) And he’s pretty much said it’s okay if my story ends up sucking. He’s practically encouraging me to suck.

So I e-mailed Scalzi back, and our e-mail exchange went roughly like this.

ME: Okay, I’m interested. What are the details?

HIM: Write a story about the events leading up to, and culminating in, the attached picture (which is a rough sketch; final picture to come).

(Click to embiggen)

ME: WTF?

HIM: For the sake of clarity, the person at the top is Wil Wheaton; the person at the bottom is me.

ME: Merciful Buddha…. Can you give me any context? Some framework I can use to cage this madness?

HIM: No. No context. Just write something. No slash. Otherwise, knock yourself out.

So there I am, utterly confusticated and bebothered. This is the first piece of short fiction I’ve agreed to write, and all I can think is, “What the fuck can I possibly write about this?”

This question spins around in my head for a couple days. I think, “Can I write a story about Scalzi and Wheaton playing D&D? Is that too geeky?  A holodeck adventure? Too cheap? Do I dare write the absolutely forbidden, ‘It was all just a dream’ story?”

Then it occurs to me that I’m approaching this from the wrong direction. I shouldn’t be trying to turn this picture into a joke. I shouldn’t try to be cute or gimmicky.

No. The events taking place in this picture are obviously epic. My story needs to be epic. And since it can’t be epic in length, it has to be epic in form….

So that’s how I ended up writing a poetic edda. For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, an edda is an old alliterative poem. Like Beowulf. Or the old Norse legends Tolkien ripped off when he was writing the Lord of the Rings.

Once I knew how to handle the story, I ended up having a ton of fun with it. I even brought in a certain celebrity in a cameo role…

Of course poetic edda aren’t supposed to be written in modern English, so I ended up spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to get the meter right. But you know my motto: if it’s worth writing, it’s worth obsessively revising.

And now, months later, I’m finally able to present you with the finished project:

(Beware, lest the awesome blind you…)

Check it out. I get third billing. How cool is that shit?

You can download the anthology for free, but I’d like to politely ask y’all to keep in mind that we’re trying to raise money for the Lupus foundation. For all intents and purposes, these stories are brought to you by the Lupus Foundation.

That means if you can afford it, donating to the cause would be a terribly kind thing to do. I know you have it in you. Make me proud.

You can download the anthology and revel in its majesty over here.

Share and enjoy,

pat

This entry was posted in being awesome, book covers, calling on the legions, cool news, side projects, Wil WheatonBy Pat80 Responses

80 Comments

  1. Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    I am so excited to read this! :)

  2. Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

    Smell the awesome. :)

    (lupis = lupus)

    • skinner
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

      you know, I thought it was spelled like that, but I figured Mr. “obsessively revising” would know more than I would. I’m such a fool.

      • Robo
        Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

        Writers don’t know how to spell. If they did, why would they pay editors?

    • Posted September 20, 2010 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

      Thanks. I’ll fix it. I’m still up from yesterday, so if that’s the worst of my mistakes I’m going pretty good…

  3. skinner
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    I know that you didn’t do this just because it was for Lupis (or maybe you did, I guess I don’t really know) but as someone who has a close family member battling the disease, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping raise money/awareness.

    Thank you, Pat, no matter what your reasons are. I will be buying at least one copy, but more likely multiple, and encourage everyone to do the same.

    • skinner
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

      PS. this looks awesome. thanks for killing my productivity at work for the rest of the day. My boss thanks you as well.

  4. KBlount
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

    brain shorts out: Unicorn Pegasus Kitten. wow

    Also: my mom has the discoid version of lupus, which sucks just not as much as the systemic kind. So, off I go to make a donation and read about Wil Wheaton riding a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten.

    Kris10

  5. Freelancer
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    Yeah, someone else played spelling-nazi before I could.

    Pat, this really seems to be the sort of thing that most suits you. In spite of the epic length of The Princess …, I suspect that you have piles and piles of short stories floating around waiting to be unleashed on mankind. Not to suggest that your shorts are full of piles, or that mankind would ever want those unleashed.

    And doing things of this nature now and then might just deliver you of the perfectionism which drives your compulsive revising.

  6. Captain Joe
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Today I found out that Sir Terry Pratchett forged his own sword from meteorites.

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/terry-pratchett-creates-a-sword-with-meteorites/story-e6frfro0-1225926584339

    I thought it would be many a year before something could possibly eclipse the awesomeness of that. I was wrong. This is fantastic. Hopefully epic of this scale comes in threes…

    • Little My
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

      Wow. That’s a really beautiful sword, too. And it looks like it means business.

      Kind of a sobering blog leading up to it, though.

  7. Widow Of Sirius
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for helping me not get ANY homework done this week. I really needed the help, I mean, I completely flipped my sleep schedule twice in 3 days and got sick in the process, so I was doing just a LITTLE too well keeping up with things. Time to remind my professors to keep those expectations nice and low…
    I’ll pay as much as I have to spare :)

  8. hewhoisgod
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    Ahhh…you would throw in a reference to Wise Man’s Fear and get me all excited again.

  9. mj951
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

    I’m still trying to feel disappointed because I will now probably get nothing else (productive) done today……

    Havent read it yet, but thank for helping out such a great cause.

  10. LisaD
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    Oh. Oh My. Yes!

    I will gladly donate to the cause. Being able to download the goodies and read at my leisure is icing on the cake!

    Thanks, Pat! This just moved today up to an epic level of awesomenity.

  11. Posted September 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    And much delighted giggling did ensue. It nice being able to read an alliterative poem without footnotes and a generous supply of caffeine.

    Not sure if it’s a good or bad thing but Neil Patrick Harris and his rendition of The Sexless Innkeeper keeps hijacking my inner V/O.

    I look forward to reading the other contributions and will pass the link around to those I think might appreciate nerd humor for a good cause.

  12. Thrice seven once eleven
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    You…took something that was ridiculous and made it genuinely tragic. This is brilliant brilliant brilliant, and I may have to put it to a tune.

  13. Nan
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for contributing to this anthology–and for advertising it.

    My mom died from complications of Systematic Lupus twenty years ago. Every effort to further understand and treat this disease is important, and I will be donating. Thank you, again.

  14. sascha
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    You’re the only person/website ever that I actually wish had a facebook share button. 99% of what you write is hilarious. I know it’s not your doing that the unicornycat made me yelp an unladylike guffaw, but there’s always something on here that does. I love it.

  15. Liz
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    “For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, an edda is an old alliterative poem. ”

    At first, I parsed this as: “For those of you who are incomplete geeks . . . ” I wonder what other geek-knowledge is holding me back from achieving geek paradise.

  16. Crim
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    Well, so much for a productive end to the day ^^
    You rawk Rothman!

    • Crim
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

      I would also like to add that I played John Anealio’s opening song there and it’s even funnier with music.

  17. Constance
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

    Oh god. I had seen the picture of Wil riding the Pegakittenasaurus (in the famed sweater no less) but had no idea this was the context.

    Must-donate-and-read!

  18. AO_22
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

    My mother has had Lupus for awhile. The disease doesn’t get mentioned as often as it should, so it’s especially nice to see this. Thank you very much.

    • absurdmike
      Posted September 21, 2010 at 12:28 AM | Permalink

      It gets mentioned all the time in House. I still don’t know what it is though.

      Cool beans Senor Rothfuss. And cool beans to the artist as well.

  19. gkidd1985
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    Just donated and read the entire thing in one sitting, you are a literary genius.

  20. borvise
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    Pat, Beautiful story. I loved to hear your written word, once again new.
    Though you used the phrase “and wise men did fear,” you tease.
    I really love your writing and I very much so look forward to the Wise Man’s Fear. And now I end my comment so as to possibly cut down on your (probably significantly grown) 30 hour a week extra job. Cheers!

  21. zdrumz13
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 7:48 PM | Permalink

    Pat, after reading that I can’t deny my feelings any longer: I have a man crush on you. I hope you’re comfortable with that.

  22. nicolerabbit
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    Downloaded and donation made! I look forward to reading this anthology. Even if I do prefer paper books to electronic books.

    Also you are one kick ass author and look forward to book two!
    I am patient (unlike my husband who keeps whining and I then shoo him off to focus on his PHD). Life once kids enter the mix tends to go crazy.

    I also love reading your blog. A few times I have laughed so hard my husband came upstairs to the office to find out why. He was amused.

  23. alafel
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

    That, Sir Rothfuss, was beautiful.

  24. Oatmeal
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

    I donated, and I look forward to reading it. And I think I want a unicorn pegasus kitten.

    • Oatmeal
      Posted September 20, 2010 at 11:20 PM | Permalink

      And yeah, leave it to you to make me want to cry over a story based on that picture. Wow. Amazing. When you said epic you weren’t kidding. Thanks for writing, and sharing, and helping us donate to such a good cause.

  25. babblefish
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

    do a barrel roll!

  26. justajenjen
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 11:03 PM | Permalink

    Want!

    *sigh* I’ll feel like a jerk, but I think I’m going to have to cheap out and take the free one without a donation to the fundraiser. I’m unemployed right now. I had to cancel books I had on pre-order for months and months, including The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. I’ve got ten bucks to last me until my husband gets paid on Friday and a one year old to feed. If I take the free edition now and promise to make up for it someday when I have money again, can I be forgiven?

    • Oatmeal
      Posted September 21, 2010 at 1:01 AM | Permalink

      Because I happen to have it at the moment, and because it’s an awesome reason to donate money, I went ahead and donated another $5 for you. It’s not much, but we all do what we can. :o)

      • Posted September 21, 2010 at 1:40 AM | Permalink

        You’re awesome.

      • Stevo
        Posted September 21, 2010 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

        That is really awesome. If the world was full of geeks it would be a better place!

      • justajenjen
        Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:18 AM | Permalink

        Aww! Thanks so much. Here I thought I was going to have to dip into the karma I built up from being a multiple gallon blood donor, and knitting for babies born to impoverished mothers in Honduras and my time as a volunteer firefighter to hold me over until I 1) get a job 2) the state pays me my unemployment I’ve been waiting for for 3 weeks or 3) I hit the Powerball so that I wouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying the book. I know one of these things is likely sometime. :) Sorry it took me so long to get this thanks out there. I was visiting my parents this week. It’s really awesome of you. Geek people are the awesomest people ever. :)

      • Oatmeal
        Posted September 23, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

        No worries. I do what I can, I’m just happy that I’ve finally found this place. After reading all of the posts from the last couple years I’m soooooooooooo looking forward to Wordbuilders this year.

        And yeah, geeks are good, and a really strong community. I’ve never seen a more charitable group than the lot here on this blog.

        Plus I can read all the comments without my eyes bleeding from all sorts of internet-eze. To me that alone was worth an extra $5.

    • Posted September 21, 2010 at 1:40 AM | Permalink

      Yup. That’s fair. Just remember that you owe one to the karma bank.

  27. Mickey
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 3:52 AM | Permalink

    Will read ( and donate ) a little later…but first I must soothe my raised hackles at the mention of Prof Tolkien having ripped off Norse mythology ? Please Pat, say it aint so ! I trust there was a tongue firmly thrust into a cheek when those keys were being bashed.

    Also, mistakenly read ” an ODD alliterative poem ” Funny thing is, that seemed quite normal for a second…

  28. Freelancer
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Teh epic, it burns!

    Bravo, Pat. Rarely has one done more with less, and never with such style. We are not worthy. But the cause is.

  29. Little My
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Hey, someone just posted a copy of the Survival Guide on eBay, for $150. Ouch! I wonder if they’ll ever bring it back into print. Or maybe I’ll be feeling flush around the time that it gets auctioned off for Heifer/Worldbuilders. Or something. Anyway, I’m enjoying the edda.

  30. Posted September 21, 2010 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    I *loved* your poem. Seriously, really, really great.

  31. burpingyazoo
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

    I donated and downloaded the chapbook to read later, but I’m actually delurking to ask about the Suvudu cage match… is there somewhere we can read your versions of the Aslan/Kvothe and Jaime/Kvothe matchups? I only just found out about the whole thing from your post today, and it seems like all of Suvudu’s links to the authors’ scenes are broken. I really wanted to read your versions!

  32. Rex
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    The fact that you worked “Crap at canasta” into your work makes it all the more epic. Yours was my favorite of the stories and I almost teared up a little at the end. Truly, you have hit upon the most classic of epic themes.

    Bravo sir, bravo.

  33. annadala
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    That was brilliant.

    And I have to ask it… is it a Lesbian Unicorn Pegasus Kitten?

    • Posted September 22, 2010 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

      Oh man. I should have worked that in….

      • Freelancer
        Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

        Hah. The moment I saw the sketch at the top of the post, I wondered if there would be any lesbian unicorn references. I guess that bit ran its course.

  34. Constance
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    Upon reading, I can only think of the “epic” romance artwork featured in this season of The Guild. Was that any part of the inspiration? Or was your epic poem first?

    How fun it is, though, to use both the classical and modern meaning of ‘epic’ to describe this story. Hehehe.

  35. PirateXxEsque
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    You have no fucking idea how reassuring it is that someone actually good at writing uses the phrase “shits and giggles”.

  36. Posted September 22, 2010 at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    Sweet, more Rothfuss to read! And donating $10 gives me the warm fuzzies.

  37. Posted September 22, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Very impressive, but would it be presumptuous (I realize it’s deeply unfashionable) to ask exactly what meter you were using? You had a lot of lines alliterating AA AA, which makes it definitely post-Beowulf; likewise your use of rhyme. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, minus the stanza tail, perhaps? But in the middle you sometimes alliterated AA BB, and I didn’t notice any Old English AA AB.

  38. Vivienne
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Being able the support the Lupus Foundation is wonderful…getting a new story from you is a bonus. A truly epic story!

  39. Froody42
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Damn, that was awesome. Your Gaiman-Day units just went through the roof.

  40. Adrianm
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    Hehe… “bung”… hehe…

  41. franbelda
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:01 AM | Permalink

    Argh! My two nemesis: kittens and unicorns, combined! With freaking dragon wings!!

    Throw some baby ducklings in the mix, why dontcha?!

    *shudder*

    I have a new phobia for my collection of neuroses: monokerosailurophobia: fear of flying-unicorned-razorfanged-crazylooking-kittenmonsters.

    Thanks Pat. Thanks a lot.

  42. coroto
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    “It’s said south of Samarand
    They brew a brown beer bitter with barley
    Yet hearty and hale.”

    Being a geek of the beer-loving home brewing kind, this line threw me a bit… are we talking about a brown-colored British Bitter (a beer style, which of course is brewed using barley) or implying that the bitterness in the beer came from barley?

    These days most of the bitterness in beer comes from hops. Barley, even when roasted quite dark, can provide some bitter character but is not a large percentage of the grain bill even in a dark beer. Beer without hops (i.e. if you made it only with barley) is likely to be mild, even somewhat sweet tasting. Before hops were employed, brewmasters used other herbs/spices to balance out the beer.

    Anyways, I get a kick out of your blog and can’t wait for the next book!

  43. BadKitten
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 1:33 AM | Permalink

    haha, you can still see Pinocchio beneath the cover, on the embiggened version.

    • BadKitten
      Posted October 19, 2010 at 1:34 AM | Permalink

      Cool, love how my computer randomly changes pages when I’m not looking. //bemused expression// And how I can’t delete that comment.

  44. Posted November 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    I’ve been off th’net for a while, but this is – and I quote – “clearly too powerful to be ignored.”

    I just downloaded and donated [which strangely makes me want t'play D&D] but I have t’ask – is it known whether this chapbook will ever make the leap to fully-fledged dead tree? I’ve never been a fan of eReading but if this is the only chance t’get it I will – but I’d like a hard copy too….

    • Posted November 17, 2010 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

      Ack! I lied accidentally!

      I tried to put through my payment, but it apparently bounced back saying it was an incorrect card type – guessing ’cause my bank hates me. Now I can’t find the PayPal method mentioned in the “Short Form” explanation over at http://unicornpegasuskitten.com/.

      Any help would be awesome, please – quick before the guilts set it!

    • Posted November 18, 2010 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

      Anyone? It’d really be nice if there was a way I could donate…?

  45. rudejude00
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

    Suvudu cagematch! I don’t know how I stumbled onto that site a year and a half ago or why I decided to spend the next 3 hours of my life reading all the write-ups, but all I can say is that I’m glad I did. Ecstatic even. I had read Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora book and saw that he was paired up with some guy who’s name I couldnt pronounce, and I think I was calling him “Koth” at the time. I was so impressed with how you wrote that whole thing up, and thought the character was really appealing, so I went out to buy your book that afternoon. I love how things work out :)

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