The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Win-It-Before-You-Can-Buy-It Caption Contest!


Steve and I are staying with Skyler, Scott, and Egan while we wait for The Incrementalists to be released, with all subsequent fanfare and book tour goodness. It is an exciting time. Perhaps… too exciting?

book fort

Last night, boxes of author copies of the book arrived, and Steve & Skyler immediately built a fort with them, refusing to come out for dinner until they were done playing “cowboys and incrementalists”.

This post is a caption contest. To enter, leave your best/funniest caption for this picture in comments to this post (and only on this post — captions submitted via facebook or twitter cannot be counted!) The contest runs until noon Texas time, Monday 9/16 (in other parts of the US this may be referred to as “Central Daylight Time”).

Important: Winner must be able to respond to my email requesting a mailing address within an hour of the contest ending or a new winner will be chosen! When the selected winner responds to me, we shall immediately mail them a copy of the book.

ETA: Enter early, enter often. You are not limited to one comment/caption.


  1. Do we *really* have to check every single one of these copies against the master?

  2. This should keep me busy until the end of the Alabama/A&M game…

  3. “I heard you like secret societies. So we started a secret society inside a fort of books about a secret society so you can read about secret societies during a meeting with your secret society.”

    (If you have never seen the “Pimp My Ride” meme this sounds dumb.)

  4. We shall open a copy to every part of the book that makes us feel feelings.


    We’re going to need more copies. A lot more copies.

  5. They said this book was so good, it’s like printing money. Where’s the cash?

  6. Hey, did you find the one signed by Scalzi yet?

  7. “Let’s read these… a little bit at a time.”

  8. “Think they can tell it’s us?” “You’re still wearing the hat, Steve.”

  9. Incrementalists: It’s what’s for lunch.

  10. Why are you hiding, Steve? Because consequences….

  11. If we cut out the juicy bits we could make lots of new CAH cards.

  12. Skyler: “Who wrote this?!?”
    Steve: “Did *you* write this?!?”
    Both: “SCALZIIIII!!!”

  13. Hey, there aren’t any vowels!

  14. Steve, don’t look now but those walls of books are creeping very slowly towards you; just be nonchalant, slowly extract the gun from under your hat, and then shoot as many of them as possible whilst Skyler makes a break for the garage and puts together some Molotov cocktails.

    And after that you’re on your own, kids…

  15. See, you CAN read the story faster if you hold two copies at a time.

  16. Training montage, scene two: reading. Read! Read HARDER!

  17. We are NOT giggling with glee… or anything else.

  18. Ha! Forget the countdown clock ( – we already got more copies of The Incrementalists than we have hands to hold!

  19. Needs more cowbell.

  20. Technically, this makes them all used now.

  21. But how do you keep the stacks from toppling over? Does gravity not exist in your house?

  22. You know, new book smell -is- better than new car smell. We should tell Glade about this.

  23. As I was going to St. Rooks, I met two people with fifty-three books…but only four hands to hold them all. No, no, that will never work. As I was going to St. Ands, I met two people with four hands. And each hand held one book… No, that’s far too easy. As I was going to St. Teach, I met two people with five hands each! And each hand held twenty books, and each book held seven kittens! …what? I like kittens. And extra hands are very useful when calculating…how many are going to St. Rooks?

  24. I haven’t found the brown-eyed girl yet either.

  25. The cannons shattered the still Texas night.

    The defenders looked out from he walls of their small fort. Against the endless horizon of stars, lit by unholy fires and terrible magics, the Illiterati came.

    Noxious fluids burned in the bellies of television golems. A clockwork monster with boombox legs hurled pop music into the air. Leading the army across the parched grass, soap opera writers sat astride huge tabloidons, sleek monsters who stamped their fad diet feet and stabbed the air with cruel tusks of celebrity addiction.

    Their eyes met. Steve nodded quickly to Skyler. As one, they drew their weapons, gripping tight the alchemical miracles of wood and ink.

    “The darkness may yet take this land,” Steve said.

    The Illiterati howled in the darkness, as if sensing that their ancient enemies were near.

    “Maybe,” Skyler replied. She lifted her weapons. “But not tonight.”

    Steve, uncharacteristically silent, only smiled, lifted his implements, and waited for the horde.

  26. Skyler: I’ve seen books on EBAY listed signed by author – never *read* by author.
    Steve: My point exactly.

  27. “My name’s misspelled on this one too, how about yours?”

  28. Fun party game: change the text of one of Steven Brust’s newly-published books to “Atlas Shrugged.”

    Bring popcorn.

  29. Tell Scalzi we’ll prepare for author readings anyway we want.

  30. “Almost all of them. Steve, this is a disaster.”
    “Naaah. Hold it at an angle and you can almost read it, the white ink is glossy.”

  31. Damnit, which sentence did Mary say was missing?

  32. Q: How do Skyler White and Steven Brust build a fort out of books?
    A: Incrementally!

  33. Steven Brust and Skyler White demonstrate the correct way to read their new book

  34. Two authors diligently testing the theory that books always open at the best parts. So far they have no complaints.

  35. Skyler White and Steven Brust cowering at the thought of just how much better they’ve made the world this time.

  36. A book so good you’ll want to buy a copy for each eye.

  37. Steve one-upping Skyler by not only holding a book open with each hand, but another with his right foot.

  38. Skyler White and Steven Brust enjoy the ride as the house tilts from the weight of all the new books they’d agreed to sign.

  39. Squirrel: Shouldn’t I be seen holding a book too?
    Ms. Pennyworth: No! You’re just a squirrel.

  40. Skyler knows better than to sit in Jen’s chair.

  41. Nope. This pack didn’t have a Nolan Ryan all-star card either. I got 5 more Incrementalists… But these sure will sound great in my bicycle spokes!

  42. Steve: You’re being attacked by a Vatican Guard with a Bushmaster.

    Skyler: Okay, my Cowboy Tekekinetic distracts him by drawing his Colt, but grabs the priceless vase and hits him in the back of the head with his… mind thingee.

    Steve: Roll to hit.

  43. Wait! This copy has a different ending! (just kidding)

  44. Where are the naughty pictures? You said there would be naughty pictures.

  45. Hey, it IS just like a real-life split screen!

  46. I thought there were going to be pictures. Didn’t you say you were going to draw pictures?

  47. “I swear the parts I wrote are heavier.”
    “No the parts that I wrote are heavier, feel this.”
    “No, you feel this. Definitely heavier.”

  48. Testing the glasses-free 3D effect in the new books. Thinking that maybe novels are not the appropriate fit for the technology.

  49. Yes, I suppose it is a bit anal to proofread each one, why do you ask?

  50. It says ” Author Copies” but I can’t tell which are yours and which are mine.

  51. I just know the Golden Ticket must be in ONE of these.

  52. y’know?…two fisted reading is *almost* as much fun as two fisted drinking!

  53. I don’t care if they’re all the same. We got four dozen books so we’re going to read four dozen books, dammit.

  54. I’ve heard parallel processing is the fastest way to get to the good parts…

  55. By severing the corpus colossum, training each eye to read independently, and starting at different points in the book, a two-fisted reader can consume a novel nearly twice as fast, requiring a vast quantity of reading material.

  56. BEDTIME!

    No, Mom! We just need five more minutes to finish this chapter(s)!

  57. Foolproof plan: randomly generated books.
    If we print enough, we’ll find the one we intended to write.

  58. Thank you, Stephen Brewer, for saying one of the other things I was thinking of.

  59. Should have Edit it before they printed it

  60. “Hmmmmm… ‘Step 1: To defend your fort from rampant editing….”

  61. Books should always be read in stereo. Don’t you think?

  62. by the time I am done reading all these copies I will be able to recite the book word for word

  63. One copy if never enough, one for the bedroom, one for the beach, one for the bathroom, one for the car … No excuses not to read this book

  64. Skyler: You know that thing about changing the world one small bit at a time? I hadn’t banked on getting into architectural minimalism. Or, at any rate, doing it with books.
    Wouldn’t concrete look cooler?

    Steve: Books are cheap, but concrete costs money so Tor wouldn’t spring for it. And besides, you know how I feel about Post Modernism…

  65. I fear this caption contest, ribald though it is … well, it just may be o’er-shadowed by this one:

  66. Steve: Damn it, Skyler, which copy has the encrypted message in it?
    Skyler: Less talking, more checking.

  67. skzb

    Not entering the contest, but here is MY caption:

    Eight book, nine book, your book, mine book.
    This one has a nifty blurb.
    This one has an active verb.
    My, these books are all superb!

  68. Love the new book smell. lets open each book and sniff

  69. no matter which way I look I can keep reading

  70. The pages are upside down in all the copies

  71. Wow look they printed more than one copy

  72. We should write a book, oh wait we did !

  73. The Incrementalists- The Library

  74. OMG! They changed our ending

  75. Not sure why we are reading this … we already know the ending

  76. What happens here incrementally, stays in here completely.

  77. If we angle these just right, we’ll create a Stealth effect.

  78. If I hold this book just right, they can’t tell I’m smoking inside…….

  79. Better than than the Alamo!

  80. Steven… why is there a character in your chapters named Brad Yaltos?

  81. “I can’t decide which of these books is better. How about you?”

  82. Tip for young authors: If you’re willing to fan your face with copies of your book, you can confidently state that there will be fans of your work at every stop of your tour.

  83. Final round of the 2013 Fly-Squashing Competition

  84. It’s amazing how much better it looks without the typos.

  85. The new exercise craze

  86. Get thee behind me!

  87. You can’t take it with you.

  88. You have copies. I do not. Give me one because socialism.

  89. “Hell is having to proofread your own book… forever”

  90. See, authors don’t just laze around all day.

  91. Some books are so good you want to read them again as soon as you’ve finished them; this one is even better.

  92. What? Haven’t you seen Mahjong played with books before?

  93. 500 copies after

  94. “They’re right! It does get better with each re-read!”

  95. Steve and Skyler search for the elusive lost character.

  96. Big Mike – That is hilarious.

  97. Darn it. Still haven’t found Devera.

  98. If the pen is mightier than the sword, than a bulwark built from books is the best position from which to mount a defense.

  99. Hey, your chapters are pretty good. I’m glad I waited to until they were finished to read them.

  100. OK, this paired juggling-while-reading routine is going to change the world of author signings forever. Get some sleep, because tomorrow we move on to four books each…

  101. “Remember we need to return these after we make the Best Seller List, hehehe!”

  102. “… and the artwork–custom made for this specific novel! Might I take a moment to point out the luster on this cover…? Wait–just a moment please–I’ve just been informed that not one, but both of this novel’s authors have–Can we display the graphic for our viewers?–Ah, yes! As you can now see, both authors have personally inspected each and every individual book! Because of this, we can guarantee that each book is completely free of manufacturing defects! And, not only that, each copy will include New Book Smell–it’s exactly like a newborn baby, only in the form of a book! Also included is New Book Spine–that faint creak and ever so slight resistance you’ve come to expect–and, of course, New Book Ink–so fresh it literally rubs off on the side of your thumbs as you read! And I know what you’re thinking–you’re thinking: This is too much! And then you’re asking yourself: How can I possibly afford it? But you can! You really can! I just wish I could see the smile on your face when you hear that all this can be yours for the low, low introductory price…”

  103. It’s weird, every time I read a different copy, I find something wonderful you wrote that I’m sure isn’t in any of the other copies.

  104. If we read hard enough, we can hold the capitalist running dogs (and any other dogs) at bay!

  105. Brust & White Construction, artisanal temene since 2013.


  107. Yup. Right here on page 54, it says “Jebus.”

  108. Quick, check them all for cooties! If we find even one, the Amazon algorithm will take that into account and we’ll lose out on the mega-uber-testosterone-filled segment of our readers unless we offer free boxes of RID.

  109. Have you found the one that is signed by the authors yet?

  110. FYI, there’s a problem with my WordPress account. If you choose my entry, I can be reached on Twitter at @JMnumber6. Thanks.

  111. Entries are being JUDGED.

  112. Infinitely curious who won……………..

  113. Skyler: Um, this would probably be better as a 3D movie
    Steve: I knew that publicist was full of shit.

    Edit: can’t italicize movie. Oh well.

  114. “Requiring no fewer than 4 books to decipher this Devara reference might be a bit…much.”

  115. Books: building blocks of knowledge… and forts!

  116. “Are all the pages blank?”

  117. “Quick, look busy!”

  118. “Agh, it’s ‘I before E *except* after C’, isn’t it? Bugger.”

  119. I think these last three entries are late. They are good, though. Winner already declared? Participation is its own reward?

  120. skzb

    I *think* the winner already got the book, but I no longer remember who it was. Or else we screwed up and never picked one. Crap. That could have happened–it was a crazy time. I’ll check with Jen.

  121. The contest results are at:

    A clean, well-titled post. 🙂

  122. Chairs that AREN’T made of books are for the weak.

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