© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, humor, science fiction, symposium, LTUE, Orson Scott Card, Gail Carson Levine, fairy tale, Star Trek, Wookie, EFY, YourLDSNeighborhood.com))
Several months ago, I attended a science fiction symposium called “Life, the Universe, and Everything.” I can almost hear you asking yourself why a woman whose life already resembles a sci-fi movie would consider going to a symposium on the subject. I don’t know, maybe because it presented a learning opportunity. Writers need continual growth to improve their craft. Or maybe because big name authors, like Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game”) and Gail Carson Levine (“Ella Enchanted”), were teaching.
Naw. It’s because the symposium was free.
Let me state for the record, I am not a big sci-fi fan. Okay, wait. Under threat of being forced to watch re-runs of the “X-Files,” I’ll secretly admit that as a kid I had a crush on Captain James T. Kirk, of the starship, Enterprise. But, “Star Trek” doesn’t count as science fiction. Everyone knows it rates up there with the works of Hemingway.
Before I registered for the sci-fi conference, doubts plagued me. I wondered ... if I attended, would I come out with the arms of an octopus and the head of a Wookie? Would bizarre people wearing Star Wars and/or Scooby Doo costumes moderate the discussions? And whereas, before attending the symposium my mailing address read “Any Town, USA,” afterward would it read, “Space, the Final Frontier?”
I'm pleased to say, after sitting through long, but enthralling hours on a chair designed to test the fortitude of a Klingon warrior, that many people there were normal authors.
Normal authors—hmm, I'm thinking that's an oxymoron. Or an insult. I'm not sure which.
As it turned out, most of the sessions covered topics applicable to a number of genres, and the attendees wore jeans and sweatshirts. Well, I take that back, I did see some guy in a long, flowing cape and gave him a wide berth—until I realized it was my husband, Russ, with a blanket around his shoulders. I'm thinking he brought his blankie along in case he got bored during the panel discussions.
On the last day, an interesting session called, “Twisting Fairytales," caught my attention. What, fairytales aren't twisted enough already? We have to make them worse?
Take "Little Red Riding Hood" for example. In it, a wolf—one that can talk, mind you—poses as Red Riding Hood's grandmother. Whom he has just eaten. Ahhh, cannibalism—that's a great topic for kids.
He lies in bed, wearing Granny’s hat and shawl. Now we have a cross-dressing cannibal—an even better theme for impressionable children.
Into the room skips little Red Riding Hood, all dressed in a flaming red cloak with a pointed hood. One that could have been worn by the Emperor from “Star Wars,” if the cloak had been a little longer and in that figure flattering color, black.
Just wait, it gets better. Have you ever asked yourself what little Ms. Hood was carrying in that basket on her arm? Mushrooms she gathers in the woods. Probably the kind that cause hallucinations.
The wolf and the girl are having a polite conversation about body parts—"Grandma, what big eyes you have"—when the wolf leaps out of bed and chases the Little Red Emperor ... er ... I mean Riding Hood out the door. In the meantime, a woodsman with a sharp hatchet dangling from his belt—no wait, maybe it's the dwarf, Sneezy, with an axe tied to his head—kills the hairy Beast and throws Beauty into the fires of Mordor.
Next, Sneezy slides the glass slipper onto the pro-feminist Ms. Hood's dainty foot, and they ride off into the sunset. Or maybe into the ocean, where she grows a mermaid's tail and Sneezy becomes a singing lobster.
I'm not sure which.
One thing I do know is I enjoyed the session so much, I'm going to try writing a twisted fairy tale of my own—just as soon as I figure out how to unglue my octopus arms and take off my Wookie head.
What's playing in my head: Star Trek Theme ( Composed by Alexander Courage )