While I am still waiting to hear back from Alan on the ms conversion for Thong ... , I've decided that this is going to happen–I'll scan the sucker myself if I have to.
The book is a novelette, that is to say, longer than a short story but shorter than a novella, at 12,000 or so words, and bracketed by a foreword and afterword, written by, respectively, Yours Truly and Michael Reaves. The original was illustrated, but probably that won't happen with the new version–there were only four drawings in the text, as you can see from the upgraded-by-Alan TOC, and while they were fun, they aren't really necessary: We paint a gaudy enough picture without 'em ...
To lay out a preview of how Thong came to be, here is the original intro I did.
Stay tuned to this station for more developments.
“How Thong Got his Blade Sharpened”
Back in the mid-eighties—forgive me if I don’t remember the exact year, I’m lucky to get the decade right—there was a party at Michael’s house, high in the smog-free Woodland Hills of Southern California. A lot of literary types were there, and a good time was being had by all when, at some point during the festivities, our then-book editor, Beth Meacham, said that she’d lately gotten a bunch of really bad science fiction manuscripts of the “Cycle Sluts of Saturn" ilk.
Cycle Sluts of Saturn? I hadn’t heard that particular turn of phrase before. I loved it.
As writers do, I mentally filed it away.
Michael and I had by this time collaborated on a couple of novels and a bunch of animated television, but no short fiction. Sometime later, he and I were talking, and we decided it would be amusing to lampoon certain aspects of our genre. Risky, maybe, but amusing. One thing led to another, and we wound up poking fun at three of the field’s icons: Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery; H.P. Lovecraft’s horror, and E.E. “Doc” Smith’s space opera.
Thus the genesis of “Thong the Barbarian Meets the Cycle Sluts of Saturn.”
(At least that’s how I remember it. But, okay, so there was a lot of champagne being guzzled ... )
Um. Anyway, since Michael lived in SoCal and I in Oregon, we did most of our back and forth collaborating via modem over the telephone. This was in the 300 baud days, and MCI mail. Back then, this was the cat’s pajamas—we had no idea how limited it was going to be, compared to today, and isn’t it great to be living here in the future?
But I digress.
Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith were in the middle of the Pulphouse experience, and we thought they might find this sucker of some interest, given some of the wild hair stuff they’d been buying. I queried Kris, she was indeed interested, so between our other jobs, Michael and I eventually pieced together the story you are about to behold in all its glory.
Our method of working was, for those of you interested, simple: I’d do a draft and send it to Michael over the wire, he’d do a rewrite and send it back. We had to develop our own codes for underlining and such, since we were limited to ASCII files, but we managed. We did this a few times and were done. (So, okay, we aren’t talking War and Peace here, it’s closer to “The Eye of Argon.”)
Finished, I printed it out and shipped the story to Dean and Kris.
Dean’s overwhelmingly positive and awestruck response to our submission was—and I quote:
“Steve and Michael—
“Okay! Okay! ... I give up. I’ll buy the damned thing ... ”
Thus were we made happy and able to go on with our lives.
But because of the novelette-length, scheduling the story was a problem. And before the piece got slotted and printed, Pulphouse ventures pretty much ceased to be a viable entity. Read: They went belly up. A shame, really, given how good the magazine was, but there you go.
So we had a magazine-killer on our hands. (This is a story you sell, then the magazine goes bust before it can be published. One tends to blame one’s self, you know.)
Um. Where was I? Oh, yeah. So we had this story which had sat in Dean’s inventory for so long we’d both switched computer systems, and such a bizarre creature than we didn’t think anybody else would ever goidn’t have any hope of finding another buyer strange enough to take the thing.
Ah, but the last time we did a reading, Don Ahlquist was in the audience at Orycon. He approached us afterward and asked if we’d be interested in letting him do something with Thong and the lovely ladies. Like maybe ... publish it?
Life is full of surprises.
So, well, here they are finally, after all these years: Brawny-thewed Thong, the sisters Tula and Pluvia in their well-filled brass bras, and Lug-Wrenchoth the malevolent and slimy ruler of the Real Old Ones.
Trust me, you have not gone down this road before.
We had a blast writing it. We hope you have half as much fun reading it.
Steve Perry, Beaverton, Oregon, November, 1997