Third Booth on the Left

“So, what do you guys sell?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Your average author isn’t 83 years old and nearly dead, then?”

Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Oh.  Okay.  But, I mean, you don’t just do space operas based on the technical education of someone who was an undergraduate when Eisenower was in the White House, right?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Got it.  Meaning the only political content of your books will be heavily allegorical and largely focused on how Soviet communism will destroy the Western spirit.  Can I assume the presence of women in your inventory is decorative and two-dimensional, in both a literal and metaphorical sense?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Do you carry any books where an entire fictional universe is built around the author’s idiosyncratic views of slavery and bondage?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“I like fictional settings that are very similar to those of Earth, but there are no black people and everyone wears slightly different hats.  Can you accommodate me?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Understood.  Would I be correct in assuming that in a great majority of your titles, moral superiority and material reward are by-products of genetic inheritance and/or birth order?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Tell me this:  do you operate under the basic premise that whether or not a species deserves to live or die should be determined on the basis of how different they look from a lantern-jawed Caucasian man?”

“Traditional science fiction…”

“And how many of these books use the concept of magic as a crutch for flaws in basic storytelling?”

“…and high fantasy.”

“Would you agree that it is wrong to even question the desirability of any and all technology?  Is imperialism the natural state of mankind?  Do you like books where elves are portrayed as highly skilled in the arts of killing in obvious compensation for the fact that they otherwise seem kind of effeminate to you?  Is it ever painfully clear to you that your preferred mode of escapist fantasy invariably involves the practice of consequence-free murder?  How often do you use elaborate world-building as a substitute for poor writing?”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“I’m starting to worry about this whole joke premise.  It started out as a mild but affectionate jab at…”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy…”

“Right, exactly, but now it seems like I really hate both genres when really I was just poking fun at them.  Also, I’ve given you just one line…”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“Yeah, that’s the one.  And it’s only six words.  These entries are supposed to be a thousand words and I feel like we’ll be really lucky if we hit half of that.  Plus, I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but this has gotten incredibly meta, and if there’s any genres that are resistant to the bone to that shit, it’s…”

“Traditional science fiction and high fantasy.”

“500 exactly.”


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