Moved into the Unseen
Tag Archives: Roger Zelazny
Since it seems to be the thing to do, I figure I’ll go ahead and post my own writing challenge. May’s challenge:
The Long Pun.
I don’t mean a pun that takes up half a page in length by itself (such as somehow managing to make ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ a pun), nor do I mean any sort of Piers Anthony dispoable two line type thing. I mean a pun where the author begins establishing the pun early on, but continues the narrative with no indication of the groan-inducing atrocity about to be unleashed on his unsuspecting reader.
The undisputed (as far as I know) master of this was Roger Zelazny who, in Lord of Light, spent something like half a chapter setting up a truly terrible pun and no one saw it comming. He did shorter, easier ones also, such as the one in the Merlin Chronicles with the two demons racing across the twisted hellish landscape raised a ruckus that had the hero out of bed to check it out only to end up dismissing it as trivial (yep, it was just one damned thing after another).
So here is my challenge: In 400 words or more, create a story that stands on it’s own merits, and then deliver a real stinker of a pun at the very end that ties in to the story itself. I’ll start us off.
The Portal series shows us how its done.
There is a commonly held misconception that a serious story needs to be entirely serious. This is strange to me, for many people understand that you can have serious moments in an otherwise silly or humorous story, so why can’t you have humor, even perhaps a lot of humor, in an otherwise serious story?
Take the Portal games, from Valve for example. In both games, the player takes control of a character who finds herself in a strange underground testing facility while the computer AI in charge of the place puts her through various “tests,” each of which gets increasingly more dangerous until eventually the AI outright starts trying to attempt to kill the character, forcing the character to attempt to find ways to either escape the facility, or fight back and destroy the AI first in self defense. While quite different in the details, the idea is not entirely unlike that of the movie Cube. Pretty serious stuff.
And yet, both games are so funny you’ll find yourself laughing out loud as you play them, even as the AIs try to kill you. This in no way detracts from the seriousness of the story though. Never once do you think “Well, the AI is just a yuck-a-minute, maybe I should just relax and be friends with that crazy cat.” The seriousness of your character’s plight is heightened by the use of humor, not detracted from.