Half term means I’ve not had much time to blog this week – but it does means I got to spend time with my daughter watching The Muppets, swimming and letting her thrash me at ten pin bowling (ahem!). Anyway, instead of something new, here’s something from Focus 56. I’ve been writing little pieces of flash fiction for Focus, the BSFA’s magazine for writers, to illustrate/make fun of some of the common errors made by writers as identified by The Turkey City Lexicon. This is the first one:

“Call a Rabbit a Smeerp”

A cheap technique for false exoticism, in which common elements of the real world are re-named for a fantastic milieu without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior. “Smeerps” are especially common in fantasy worlds, where people often ride exotic steeds that look and act just like horses. (Attributed to James Blish.)

The Turkey City Lexicon

Thrignor wiped the gore from the blade of his ivory-handled throg-cleaver and rammed it back into the flinner-skin scabbard that hung from his belt. The battle against the fire-breathing doosinfalg had been long and terrible and many brave bomsaw-brothers had been lost this day.

“They have sacrificed their lives for a great cause,“ Thrignor hissed and rested a hand on the shoulder of Fury, his might battle-smeerp. “It will not be in vain.”

The smeerp snorted through the three nostrils that ran down the back of its neck and shook its massive head. The great beast was sweating and pawing at the ground with blood-smeared claws.

The warrior could sense the smeerp’s continued agitation.

“Steady now Fury. The doosinfalg is slain, our work here is done.”

There hadn’t been a doosinfalg this far south in many centuries, Thrignor thought to himself. And smeerps had been imported just a few generations before from the wild continent and there were no doosinfalg in that distant, fly-plagued, Boolgar-forsaken land.

“You fought well, my friend.” With one hand Thrignor reached into his saddle bag, searching for some reward for his steed’s courage, he rested his other gauntlet on the smeerp’s great horn. “Your kind would never have faced such beasts before, eh Fury?”

But Thrignor could not have been more wrong.

It was true that the wild continent had no living doosinfalg, but there was a reason for that. The scaly doosinfalg had been hunted to extinction on that far land by the packs of wild smeerps. Now, smelling the blood that had once driven his ancestor’s to a feeding frenzy, Fury’s untamed nature was stirring, casting off the brittle veneer of domestication.

The smeerp shook its head again and bore its mighty fangs. It sniffed the air, drawing in more of the musty tang of doosinfalg blood.

“What is it, boy?” Thrignor tugged on Fury’s reins.

The great battle-steed snapped at the hand that tried to restrain it. The blood-urge washed away all sense and all control. The need to hunt, to kill, consumed all.

Thrignor held out his hand. In his palm was an apple.

Fury opened his mighty jaws…

…and munched happily on the delicious fruit.

His stable and a warm blanket were waiting for him back at the castle.

The hunt could wait.

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