Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jack Vance Writing Contest!

Calling all Brains of Earth!

It's a Jack Vance writing contest!

Compose a snippet in the style of Vance, most likely dialogue, but it doesn't have to be, and post it in the comments for this blog post.

Yeah. You actually have to think for this one. But you are one of the Brains...

I'll judge the winner and he or she shall receive a Psychedelic Fantasies adventure PDF from RPGNow, either Proteus Sinking (reviewed in this space a few days ago), or another of your choice.

Okay, the prize is not massive, but though I am a rich man in the ideal, my current account of terces is not extensive in the actual. According to the Gods, this is not atypical. Remind me to ask them about this sometime.

Here are three imitations I wrote myself. The first was composed in slightly altered form for a private letter. I hope the recipient doesn't mind if I make it public. I like it the best. But my wife prefers the third one:

"Your taste is exquisite," said Pantoflac. "My work is the toast of nine worlds. That I am wanted on eight of them is of no account."
"No account?" said his companion.
"No account to me," replied Pantoflac. "Nor to the universe, which I've found to be mute on such things. The true artist is above the material concerns of other men. Expend five terces to refill our flutes and I will elaborate on this theorem."

“The outcome here is inevitable. Surely you know that,” yelled the Dragonette, who while gaining a full one hundred feet on Cudgel since the river, was now noticeably drooping, making only a few short flying hops. “But I grow weary of the chase. Wait for me at the stone by the next turn. I promise you won't feel a thing.”
“Agreed,” yelled Cudgel over his shoulder. “But why not rest awhile yourself? When you recover I shall be waiting for you at the next stone.”
“You are a clever adversary,” replied the Dragonette, “when I eat you it will be with mixed emotions.”
“Not all so clever as that. In error I dropped my money pouch on the other side of the river. Did you see it?"
“Ha ha!” cried the Dragonette. “I find this banter restorative.” And with a spring he was again in the air and quickly began to accelerate.

“I find your person not unappealing,” said the woman. “And I confess to feeling a certain impulse to appreciate it further.”
“I’m truly grateful for that, Madam, as, though I am a wealthy man, I have at the moment but three terces on my person.”
“Then I will have to appreciate it at a distance,” she said laughing, and moved towards the two strangers who had just entered the room.

Apologies if the above doesn't contain a high enough ratio of obscure or invented words. My brain doesn't work that way, and I let my subscription to the OED lapse due to the above mentioned temporary shortage of terces.

It's for the fun of it.

Good luck! And may the Grues remain distracted in your presence!


  1. “Friend Molfancz, your sudden profligacy suggests that an immediate disbursement of the mutual finances left in your care would be eminently propitious.”

    “Dear Pfenning, this presumption is unbecoming! I regard myself a grandee of discernment and propriety! If I expend a terce or two, it is only to cultivate the goodwill of the townsfolk. Are we rude mermelants, covetous of one another's turnips, or are we men fortunate enough to share the abundant joys of life?”

    “Your magnanimity is commendable. It would be even more so absent my pecuniary interest.”

    “Alas, if I cannot dissuade your avaricious intent, then let us arrange for monetary equipoise over a carafe of this delightful oenomel, like refined gentlemen.”

    “I make no claim to gentility, thus I find your offer of libation overly generous, if not supercilious.”

    “I have known ravenous pelgranes to act with greater civility! Your failure to observe requisite amenity can only be construed as discourteous.”

    “Not so! I merely believe such punctilio to be dilatory, if not fundamentally egregious, especially when the sun is apt to expire at any moment.”

  2. Advice to potential competitors: Okay. So I think the proper psychological attitude to the above is to be INSPIRED by it, but then to forget about it completely. You still have a chance (said repeatedly and sort of hypnotically over and over again until you actually believe it). Also perhaps Perdustin will be called away and will not be able to actually claim his prize, etc.

    You have a week.

    On that note, vfults, come forward!

  3. “I see how things stand. Brother, I had not thought you half so low.”

    “Pray, put off your sour disposition, Belian. Such habits wreak havoc on one’s digestion and countenance.”

    “My disposition is choleric, not sour. Nor is it habitual; it is entirely occasioned on finding your image here, inspecting the contents of my treasure vaults. Is this gratitude, to make use of my own gift to spy on my chambers?”

    “Brother, you are mistaken. The Photoplasmic Projector is indeed extravagant in its applications, so much so that I was troubled lest your generosity had overtaxed your means in giving it to me. I sought only assurance that your wealth was substantially unimpaired in so doing.”

    “Ah. Well as you can see, I am not yet enpaupered, nor bereft of recourse in the case of unwanted intrusions. Now remove your image lest I retract my gift.”

    “I shall, without delay. Though first, I might note that what appears to be the Photoplasmic Projector’s missing lens is resting on your worktable. No doubt the idle servant who packed your gift for transport neglected to include the lens. Its lack, I fear, introduces a degree of hazard in employing the Projector.”

  4. Probably too tardy for this one, but no matter. Here goes:

    The hetman addressed the captive. “You wear a three-tiered black hat, the traditional headgear and sacred symbol of Habanais, creator and ordinator of this reality and eighteen others. This is basest blasphemy, and the stipulated punishment is total immersion for five days in the correction vat. Bailiffs!”

    “Not so fast!” said Cugel. “You overlook an alternative explanation.”

    The hetman hoisted his bushy eyebrows. “Indeed? You claim, then, to be an avatar of Habanais, descended from the Overworld?”

    From the assembled villagers came gasps and cries of astonishment.

    “Correct!” said Cugel. “I am Habanais, and I require the customary obeisances and perquisites due to a deity of no small magnitude.”

    The hetman stared coldly at Cugel. “It shall be so. According to the fifth holy triad in the Lustrous Codex, Habanais sits in splendour upon a throne of fire.” He called to the villagers: “Gaspar! Fetch a wooden chair! Dickon! Hune! Bring faggots and kindle a flame for the comfortable repose of our godhead!”

    The corner of Cugel’s mouth twitched involuntarily.