Jen and I are in Austin, being graciously hosted by Scott and Skyler and Egan White. It’s a lovely time, with much good conversation, and pleasantness all around. Or, rather, it was, until a couple of days ago, when I woke up early and came downstairs unexpectedly. Because I was wearing slippers, no one heard me. And there were Jen and Skyler, their heads together, over a pile of books.
Jen: And, seriously, Sandworms? There is, like, no way that desert ecosystem could support such a lifeform. Plus, they’re icky. I think fuzzy kittens would be better.
Skyler: No, puppies! Sandpuppies!! You write that part. I just crossed out this whole section about the Emperor’s soldiers, because the uniforms? Boring! And it totally bounces me out of a story when a militarized political structure doesn’t revolve around elaborate hats with plumes and brocade.
Jen: And insignia.
Skyler: Exactly! Do we even know how this army symbolizes rank and status in color? I’m going to replace the whole battalion with one super-powerful alpha-guy with back tattoos.
Jen: Remember, it’s the desert though, so if he’s shirtless and obviously…
Skyler: Obviously. Shirtless, but maybe with vambraces.
Jen: Okay, but it’s the desert so we’ll have to make sure there’s some kind of sunscreen or his skin, you know.
Skyler: We’ll need to protect it from burning and from the scouring effects of the sand. We could use magic! There wasn’t enough magic anyway.
Jen: I know, right?! But don’t take too much time; the publisher needs it by next month if he’s going to replace all the copies of the old Dune on time.
Skyler: It’ll be done. But what about this one?
Jen: Oh, that’s Doc Smith. Nothing but space battles. Ugh. Let’s take out all the battles and replace them with fancy dress balls.
Skyler: I’ve always thought dancing reveals more about character than boring space battles anyway. What kind of costumes do they have? Do they move with the body or constrict it? Are the dances partnered or not? Foot or hip-driven?
Jen: Oooh, yeah. You do those. And we’re going to need lots more description of the Lensmen. Because, I mean, hello? A lens? That’s an accessory! It isn’t easy to build your whole wardrobe around one accessory.
Skyler: Right. It has to really pop, but also tie the whole ensemble together. I’m having a lot of trouble with The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, because there is so much boring stuff about living on the Moon, and it all has to be replaced, but I like the bit about the guy-harems. We could just get rid of the rock throwing nonsense and concentrate on the relationships. How do they feel about the different men? What do they talk about? And I like Wyoh, and Heinlein does say she’s cute, but we need way more description and gossip, so there’s plenty that can go there….oh, good morning, Steve. We were just having tea. Did you sleep well??
They shoved issues of Cosmo over the pile of books, but it was too late; I’d seen what I’d seen and heard what I’d heard. Shaken, terrified, I crept back to bed to nightmares about killer robots in lipstick.