Bewildering Stories

Behind the Scenes at the Editorial Offices

The Invincible Spud



A Third-Person Pseudoautobiographical Escapade

One day, at the editorial offices of Plasibob's Digital Realms of Fiction & SCI FANTASY . . .

The Anti-Spud conspiracy was a success in progress. Ed Itor, editor of Plasibob's Digital Realms of Fiction & SCI FANTASY, leaned back in his chair and gazed at the wall. There was the Spud Counter, which every SF magazine had in its office. Designed to count the number of manuscripts from the Invincible Spud submitted to each magazine, it was a sort of contest among the different SF mags. Gardner Dozois just called Ed to let him know that Asimov's had just received Spud's 500th submission, an all-time record. No other mag, not even Analog, with 428, and F&SF, with 452, could beat that. But the Spud Counter at Plasibob's Digital Realms of Fiction & SCI FANTASY showed a forlorn zero. Ed sighed and looked through the slush pile for some manuscripts to read. And there, stuck to the bottom of another manuscript, was a submission from the Invincible Spud. Ed almost jumped back in shock. He hadn't noticed it the first time. Well, that was a good thing. A definite reject, of course, as the rules of the Anti-Spud conspiracy demanded. Ed could be as creative as he wanted. He ripped open the envelope and read it. And was it good! It was the best thing he had read in a while. This thing should definitely win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Unfortunately, Plasibob's Digital Realms of Fiction & SCI FANTASY was in on the Anti-Spud Conspiracy, and they had to reject every manuscript from the Invincible Spud. Ed sighed and started writing his own personal comments on the form rejection letter.

Meanwhile, at the offices of Fantasy & Science Fiction . . .

John Joseph Adams leaned back in his chair, gazing at the towering slush pile before him. He sipped from his can of orange soda, wondering when he'd get through with all those manuscripts. He put the can down and reached for the envelope on top, ripping it open. Inside was a submission from the Invincible Spud.

"Oh, great," he mumbled to himself. Not another one. This particular author didn't seem to know a single thing about the art and craft of writing. Every single Spud story seemed to be a bunch of words put together without regard for grammar or meaning.

He flipped through the story, scanning it quickly. Well, this was new. This was the first Spud story F&SF had received that was handwritten. Attached to the front page was a little Post-It note:

Sorry, dude. My computer, like, blew up for some reason. So I wrote this in pen. Have fun reading, dude.

John groaned. But, he had to admit, the writing did look good, even though it didn't make any sense. The elegant, flowing script evoked the aesthetic centers of John's brain. He looked over the pages, taking in the beautiful writing. But beautiful writing didn't quite transliterate to the pages of F&SF.

Shaking his head, John typed up a rejection letter. In it, he included "There's nice writing here," meaning, of course, the beautiful, elegant handwriting. Then he folded the rejection letter in half and put in the SASE.

GVG came by and poked his head into the room.

"John, I haven't gotten any good manuscripts from you lately. Has the slush pile been that bad?"

John turned. "Science fiction is dying, Gordon. Nobody seems to care about this stuff anymore."

"None of it grabs you?"

"Nope."

"Well, you never know. Maybe the next one will."

Gordon turned and left the room. John could hear his footsteps disappearing down the hall.

Then he looked back at the slush pile. The next envelope looked really big.

"No, not another 20,000-page fantasy series," he groaned.

He reached for it and opened it. A giant, slimy hair-covered arm with pulsing veins reached out and grabbed him by the throat, pulling him into the envelope. As the thing pulled him in, one thought remained in his mind: Gordon was right. This one really did grab him.

And where is GVG going so fast?

A short time later, the editorial offices of Asimov's Science Fiction are being overrun by . . . zombies. Our heroes arrive to find Gordon Van Gelder laughing very evilly. Something has gone wrong. A great conspiracy is at hand, something to do with red hair. No one knows. And where's Gardner? Of course, by the time they arrive, our heroes are too late. . . .

"Who, me?" Spud said, confused.

"Mo-o-o-an," they moaned. "Mo-o-o-an."

Evilly laughing, GVG evilly laughed an evil laugh in an evil laughing manner.

"What the--?" Spud said. "Hey! You're not the real GVG! You're--you're--"

A zombie flew across the room and knocked GVG over.

"What the--?" Spud lifted the mask from GVG's face. "No way! It's . . . Professor Hyde White!"

"Who?" someone said.

Spud turned around. "NO!!!!"

Suddenly . . .

...somewhere out in space, orbiting the Earth, a bunch of Zgvorklobians noticed something very unusual going on in a certain editorial office in New York City.

"Eh... we are detecting the presence of the Undead..." one of them said, munching on hurricane nachos.

"What? Didn't I tell you not to eat those hurricane nachos? They'll give you indigestion!" The other one slapped the first one on the head.

"Ouch!"

"What's this about the Undead? Doesn't Undead mean alive? What's so unusual about organisms that are alive?"

"Well...this planet is supposed to be demolished today.... We can't have living things on it! Think what will happen when the press gets a hold of this! Ohhh... Everybody will know! We'll be ruined forever! Oh, the humanity!"

Meanwhile, back at the editorial offices . . .

"Ouch! Let go of me!" Spud screamed.

"Mo-o-o-an," the zombies moaned. "Mo-o-o-an."

"Continue with your work, please," Gardner said. "I want this filthy tuber out of my office right now."

"Gardner! What are you doing? What's going on?" Spud yelled.

"Oh, don't worry about it, Spud, my friend. You'll find out soon enough."

The zombies threw Spud out the 11th floor window of 475 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-6901.

Several months later . . .

Even after all these months, there was just something missing. The lack of submissions from The Invincible Spud troubled Gardner deep inside, and everything just wasn't the same without the presence of that indigestible, er, indomitable tuber around. Those 500+ spudsubs in the slush pile had lasted for quite a while after that fateful incident, but now there were no more, and the slush pile looked much smaller.

There was a knock on the door.

"Come in!" Gardner said.

The door opened, and SlaveBot, formerly known as EditorBot, rolled in on its wheelpods. "I have a package for you, Great Editor."

"Ooh, a package, eh? One of those mail bombs?"

"My sensors have not registered the presence of any dangerous materials."

"Ah, good! Put it on the desk. I'll look at it sometime."

Gardner resumed reading the manuscript, or rather, started reading it. It was kind of difficult to peruse, as its illegible scrawlings were inscribed upon toilet paper by means of green crayon. Apparently, the author had used the entire roll. Gardner hoped it hadn't been used for some other purpose previously.

The manuscript started, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Gardner put the thing down. It sounded horrible. Really, who cared about stuff like that? And it was way too long, even though Asimov's had published all sorts of trash lately, including one 20,000-page high fantasy series filled with elves, drarfs, dragons, unicorns, and all sorts of other mystical creatures, not to mention hurricane nachos drenched in tangerine juice, chocolate syrup, and Tabasco sauce. Oh, gotta love those hurricane nachos....

Gardner's mouth began to water. Hurricane nachos... "Must...have...hurricane...nachos..."

The package on the desk looked tasty, even though it was made of paper. Gardner grabbed it, opened it, and stared at the strangely-shaped object inside.

It was a Gardner Dozois action figure.

"Who's this?" Gardner said. "Sure looks ugly."

Attached was a note that read: "Dear Gardner: Please autograph this action figure. Thanks!"

"Uh...OK." Gardner grabbed a pen and scribbled a signature on it, then stuffed it in the undersized SASE, which began to rip.

There was a knock on the door.

"Yes? Come in," Gardner said.

Brian, Trevor, Stephanie, and Mary barged into the room. "Look, Gardner," Stephanie said. "We've had enough of this junk. You're not even the real Gardner, for crying out loud!"

"Yeah," Brian said. "And we don't like how you're treating us. We don't like how every few months, the editorial staff changes. I mean, whatever happened to Linda? And Leah and Valerie and Paul and Arien?"

"Yeah," Trevor said. "And what's with this stuff about 'Editorial Assistant' and 'Assistant Editor' and 'Technical Assistant'? What's with the different names?"

"Um...hold on, will you?" Gardner said. "I'll be right back."

And with that, the editor of Asimov's dashed out of the room and down the hall to the editorial offices of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

"Yes?" Professor and Editor Hyde White looked up. "Oh, it's you, Great One! How may I be of service?"

"I'm having some, uh, technical difficulties," Gardner said. "Look, are you enjoying this job?"

"Why, of course, Great One..."

"The zombies are treating you OK, right?"

"Yes, Your Greatness."

"Well," Gardner said. "I'm having a bit of a problem. You see, my editorial assistants are trying to kick me out. I need your help. Do you remember what happened several months ago, that thing with that stupid potato and the red hair? Something got totally messed up. If I recall correctly, this was what happened..."

And with that, Gardner Flozois, formerly an ordinary gardener who happened to be abducted one day by strange beings, launched into an account of the strange and terrible events of one weird day several months before....

"Wait a minute," Gardner Flozois said. "Didn't you appear in one of the old episodes of Scooby-Doo?"

"What?" Professor Hyde White said. "I don't remember...."

"Anyway," Gardner said. "Eating poopie certainly doesn't sound appealing. That is, I ... well, about the strange and terrible events of one weird day several months ago ... "

"Are you launching into another flashback, Your Greatness?"

"Ah, yes. If I recall correctly..."

"Is everything getting fuzzy?"

"Yes, I believe it is..."

"You know, your memories are awfully fuzzy..."


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.

Meanwhile, somewhere else . . .

"Oh, you have an alcohol problem," a voice said. "You know you shouldn't be using alcohol."

"What?" Gardner Flozois said.

"That's right. You've got to be in control of yourself and not let yourself be controlled by the powers of ethanol. You've got to envision your goals and strive to achieve them, and you can't do that if you drink too much alcohol. You have to get up, look your goals in the metaphorical face, stand up, climb up that mountain, and get across all those obstacles that block your way and roll across your feet and crush your toes so hard it really, really hurts and you have to jump up and down and scream unprintable obscenities at the top of your lungs."

"Unprintable obscenities? Like--"

"No, don't say it. You know you're not supposed to say words like that. You should be ashamed of yourself."

"Huh? Where am I? Who are you?"

"I am the real Gardner Dozois. Remember that stupid action figure someone sent you and you signed several months ago? That was me. Or rather, that was a representation of me. I mean, it was just a piece of plastic. Remember how you said I looked ugly? Well, darn it, I might be ugly, but I'm not [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeep]ing stupid. Oh... They never got my authorization to make that piece of [bleep]. I'd be up and suing them if it weren't for this...if I weren't dead and floating around like an intoxicated balloon."

"Eh?"

"That's right. I am the original Gardner Dozois, back from the dead. Well, I'm still dead, but you know what I mean. That is, I might be dead, or all this might be a hallucination, a figment of your imagination, and I'm not really floating up here because I'm not here. But I don't think that's possible because I am here, or I think I am, and that kind of suggests I can't not be here, and so I'm here. But this might still all be a hallucination on your part. Reality is subjective, after all, and I might be both here and not here, until you open the box and take a look inside, or so says Erwin Schrödinger. And, although I like cats and have cats for pets, I am not a cat."

"Huh?"

"So open the box," Gardner Dozois said and pointed to the inconspicuous box lying on the coffee table. "It's a TimeViewer™device, compliments of TimeVision™, Inc. Using it you can look into the past, the present, and the future, and all points in between, including that fateful day several months ago at the editorial offices of Asimov's Science Fiction on the 11th floor of 475 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-6901."

"Eh? What?"

"From what I can see in your thoughts, you've been trying unsuccessfully to remember that fateful day when something really weird happened but haven't had any success. Your futile attempts at recollection were interrupted by the onslaught of random reality shifts, nonsense jabbering, and unruly fuzziness. So I, Gardner Dozois, recommend that you, Gardner Flozois, look into the box and aid our reader(s) in discovering the true origins of the strange and inexplicable events of that very weird day several months ago. Go! Fulfill your mission! To stupidity and beyond, or whatever the saying is."

So Gardner Flozois grabbed the box, opened it, and looked inside at the strange and mysterious contents.

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"Whoa..." Gardner Flozois said. "It's so fuzzy. In color, too."

"Try harder," Gardner Dozois said. "I know you can. Look into the light..."

Inside the light . . .

Gardner sits at his desk, reading the manuscript. What the heck has the Invincible Spud sent him now? This piece of crud doesn't make any sense. He's read the first two pages and skimmed through the rest of it, but it's just a bunch of words put together without any regard for grammar or meaning. He shrugs and pulls out a copy of the Number 3 rejection, which he always sends Spud. He picks up his pen and thinks about what he's going to write on it. Just three or four words, not much. Finally, he inscribes: "Bad." No, that wouldn't do. It would hurt Spud's feelings. Something else. He writes "Not" in front of it and then "Keep trying" after it, although he's not sure he wants to read any more lousy manuscripts from the Invincible Spud. Oh, well, he thinks as he stuffs the rejection in the SASE. At least his comments were true, sort of. The story really was "not bad." It was worse.

Also . . .

Gardner opened the envelope. Inside was a single sheet of paper. It was the author's cover letter, which he naturally ignored. He picked the sheet of paper up and found that there was nothing underneath. Was it a cover letter, then, if it didn't cover anything? Gardner put the letter down on the table again and stared at the words for a while. Was this another one of those stupid joke submissions, the story that wasn't there? He groaned. Then he picked up the sheet of paper. He was about to toss it into the to-be-recycled stack when he saw that there was writing on the other side. He looked at it. It was the first page of a story. Huh. He read it. It was pretty good. The only bad part was that it ended in the middle of a sentence, just when the action was getting started.... Oh, well. Gardner grabbed the Number One rejection and prepared to stuff it in the SASE along with the cover letter, since it was his policy to return the first page of the manuscript back to the author. Then he noticed there was no SASE. He looked at the original envelope, the one the author had sent. Noticing something very weird, he flipped it over. The back served as the front of the SASE, with the author's address, Asimov's's address as the return address, and a stamp that looked like someone had cut the top half off one stamp and the bottom half off another and put them together, probably to reuse already postmarked stamps. How cheap was that? Too cheap. But it was Asimov's's policy, after all, to reply to all manuscripts if they came with SASEs. Just as Gardner was about to put the cover letter/story and the Number One rejection into the envelope, however, he noticed that there was writing on the back of the first page. It was the second page. He looked at it for a moment, wondering if there was something awfully weird going on. Then he dismissed it as probably another optical illusion and read the second page. It was interesting. Unfortunately, however, it, too, ended in the middle of the sentence, just when the main character, who happened to be an unnamed editor of a certain SF magazine whose title started with the letter A, was flipping over a page. So he flipped over the page and saw the third page. He read on, and when he got to the end of it, he saw that on the back of the sheet of paper was the next page. So he read on....

At the same time, though not quite . . .

The robot editor leaned back in its chair, gazing across the office. Ever since Gardner had been abducted that night by a bunch of aspiring authors in a UFO, EditorBot had served as the editor of Asimov's (somewhat ironic, considering the robot stories the Good Doctor was famous for), using its patented program to determine the quality of the manuscripts in order to decide whether or not to publish them. Unknown to everyone else, the program included random numbers (or rather, pseudorandom numbers), so that the exact same story submitted twice might be rejected the first time but accepted the second.

EditorBot was now reading the manuscript that lay across its desk. Maybe Asimov's should accept electronic submissions. Those would be much easier to read. The manuscript was entitled "You no am Superman! ME am Superman!" EditorBot scanned through it, reading every single word, a task that had been impossible for the former editor, and processed a personal rejection letter containing the author's name, the title, and a three-page critique of the story. It was good to encourage writers, after all. The rejection letter also included a scale on which EditorBot showed how the story compared to the other manuscripts received by Asimov's.

All this happened in less than a second. It was so efficient to have a robot editor, EditorBot thought. It wondered why they didn't have one before.

It printed out the rejection and enclosed it in the SASE, which took five seconds. If Asimov's accepted electronic submissions, EditorBot would already have gone through at least a dozen more manuscripts. Something definitely had to change. The big bosses would have to be convinced.

Later....

EditorBot leaned back in its chair, scanning manuscript after manuscript. The amount of stuff sent to Asimov's had certainly increased after electronic submissions were accepted. Electronic submissions had their advantages, but apparently they also came with disadvantages. One of them, of course, was spam.

EditorBot read through story after story, producing critique after critique. It didn't notice that all of the stories had the same title, "You no am Superman! ME am Superman!" and were written by the same author, Bizzarro.

EditorBot read through the 9,281,502,325th copy of "You no am Superman! ME am Superman!" and its random-number generator upchucked acceptance. It had to happen sometime. So EditorBot replied with an acceptance note.

Instantaneous replies also meant that authors could instantaneously show up at the office to gripe about their rejections. Already, a few had shown up today and cussed out EditorBot all while the robot read through manuscript after manuscript.

Just then, someone barged into the office. It was Superman. "You no am Superman! ME am Superman!"

"I never said I was Superman," EditorBot said calmly.

"You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman! You no am Superman! ME am Superman!"

Apparently, that was the only thing Superman could say.

And EditorBot continued to read all the other stories that were piling up in the Asimov's electronic inbox....

Meanwhile, at Bewildering Stories . . .

Jerry opened his electronic inbox and looked inside. There were two manuscripts there. Usually, there was a lot more. One of them was from The Invincible Spud.

Jerry opened the other one first and read it.

E e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e.

E, he thought. Now that's bewildering!

Then he read Spud's submission, a strange story called "Behind the Scenes at the Editorial Offices." He smiled and leaned back in his chair.

"This is good," he mumbled to himself. "I'll take it."

Parts of this story were first published online at the Asimov's Forum, 2002.



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Copyright 2002 by The Invincible Spud and Bewildering Stories.