March 26, 2013


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them. Regarding Fantasy, this insight was startling: “I see the fantasy genre as an ever-shifting metaphor for life in this world, an innocuous medium that allows the author to examine difficult, even controversial, subjects with impunity. Honor, religion, politics, nobility, integrity, greed—we’ve an endless list of ideals to be dissected and explored. And maybe learned from.” – Melissa McPhail.

Let’s do that!

F Trope: dark lord
Current Event: “In November 2012, satellite photos revealed a half kilometer long propaganda message carved into a hillside in Ryanggang Province, reading, ‘Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!’. The message, located next to an artificial lake built in 2007 to serve a hydroelectric station, is made of Korean letters measuring 15 by 20 meters, and is located approximately 9 kilometers south of Hyesan near the border with the People's Republic of China.” (

Ardian Goodpaster tapped on his tablet-computer – t-comp – and said, “Look, you have to read this!” He held it out to her.

Noemi Zweifelhofer grunted, hunched over her own t-comp. She said, “Doar stai un minut!”

Ardian’s eyes grew wide and he whispered in German, “Ich denke nicht, dass Sie Rumänisch in diesem Augenblick sprechen sollten! Wir sind in genug Schwierigkeiten, wie es ist!”

Noemi finally looked up, her dark eyes flashing and said, “Do you think speaking in English would be all right?”

Ardian snorted, “Better than speaking Romanian. We can get in trouble for that…”

“You don’t think believing that Kim Jong-un is an incarnation of The Dark Lord will keep us out of trouble?”

“I didn’t say I believed it – just that it seems…logical given what Mom and Dad say about how he acted when he went to school here.”

“Your mom and dad were his friends! He hated my dad!”

Ardian shook his head, “I’d probably dislike your dad, too if he stuck my head in a toilet and flushed it…”

“That was a kid’s prank!”

“…fourteen, fifteen and sixteen times on ten different occasions in honor of the illustrious North Korean leader’s birthdays?”

Noemi glared at her best friend, then burst out laughing. Finally she said, “All right, it wasn’t a kid’s prank. But all of our parents agree he was creepy and mean.”

Ardian tapped the t-comp and said, “You really believe that the inscription means what they say it means?”

“‘Long Live General Kim Jong-un, the Shining Sun!’?” He stared at it then slowly shook his head. Noemi continued, “I know my Korean is adequate…” Ardian snorted, but she overrode him, “But I’ve cross-referenced this in half a dozen dictionaries.”

“So what do you think?”

She zoomed in on the image of the inscription then swung to the right, saying, “When it’s written like this, left-to-right and with the order of the characters – and given that the archaic form was used intentionally, it reads, ‘Long dominate Kim Jong-un, Darkest of the Dark Lords’.”

“And no one else in the world reads it that way?”

She held out her t-comp, “I wouldn’t say that.” Their eyes met and for a moment locked. Ardian felt the blood drain out of his face. She handed him her own t-comp. “Read it.”

He kept his eyes on hers then finally looked down. The headline was in German, from a recent edition of Die Welt. “Different Interpretation of North Korea’s Paean of Praise?” He read, looked at her.

“Scroll to the next document. Two weeks later.”

He did and read, “Interpreter Found Murdered”…

Names: ; Today, both are entirely Swiss names

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