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Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Friday Challenge - 7/24/09

It's been a long week, and at the moment it doesn't look as if next week will be much better, so I'm going to begin by apologizing in advance for any further snowdogging and schedule disruptions that may or may not take place, in the near- or mid-term future.

Glib and marginally sincere apology successfully delivered, we now move on to the 7/17/09 Friday Challenge. In the order received, the entries are:

Guy Stewart, "Throwing Wotan's Spear"

Henry, "The Declaration"

Al, "Dark Mirror," Part 1 | Part 1.5 | Part 2

As always, even if you haven't submitted an entry this week—even if you never submit an entry in any week—you're invited to read, comment on, and vote for your favorite. Don't be shy about leaving feedback on the authors' blogs, either. Writers thrive on knowing that someone out there is actually reading their words. The winner will be announced on Sunday.

And now for this week's challenge:

The Honorable Senator Foghorn Leghorn
Do you write for the ages, or write for your contemporaries? Consciously attempting to write for the ages too often produces ponderously awful turgidity, while writing for your contemporaries—well, that can lead to other problems. On the one hand, there's a strong temptation to pander to the groundlings and write vampire were-seal action-adventure soft-core porn; on the other, it's true that writers have an obligation to speak truth to power fearlessly, and to pursue truth wherever the tail leads. On the gripping hand, though, litigation is expensive, and in some times and places litigation may be the very least of the fearlessly truth-seeking writer's problems.

Thus we enter the realm of satire, parody, and allegory. The best Russian science fiction, I've been told, is actually satirical allegory about the Soviet system. Similarly, I've been told that Joseph Heller's Catch 22 is only a pale imitation of The Good Soldier Schweik, the best novel ever written in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but I've never actually read the latter.

We haven't quite reached that point, just yet. In the American Empire it's still fairly safe to insult people by name, provided you target one of those people or groups that it's still safe to insult. (Say, a member of the Palin family.) But if you want to insult someone not on the Approved Targets of Derision (ATD) list...

This is when we resort to verbal caricature and allegory. Older readers may remember Walt Kelly and Al Capp, and characters like The Loan Arranger and Joanie Phoanie. Younger readers in the Upper Midwest may remember all the fun we had during our four glorious years with Governor Turnbuckle. Myself, I'm developing my own cast, for stuff I haven't quite found the nerve to go public with just yet, but in my private moments I'm scribbling little stories about Senator Cokesnorting Buffoon, Mayor B. S. Rykrisp, President Agitprop, and of course, the first practicing Native American peyote cultist elected to Congress, the Honorable BarkingMad Moonbat.

That's this week's challenge. I want you to create an allegorical vehicle for thinly veiled political satire, and tell us an entertaining little story about this person, organization, aggrieved class, or agency.

The deadline for this challenge is midnight Central time, Thursday, 7/30/09. Not surprisingly, we're still playing by the never-updated Official Rules of the Friday Challenge, and playing for whatever is on the equally infrequently updated Door #3 list.

And remember: as clearly as you may have your target pictured in your mind, make sure he/she/it/they/them is sufficiently obscured as to maintain the scrim of reasonable doubt.
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