Greetings Earth Losers.
I’m covering my lack of bits and pieces with a guitar so PBBPB won’t laugh at me.
No. You know what? I won’t even call two of you Earth losers this week, for when Bookshelf Q. Battler put out a notice that my illustrious overlord, the Mighty Potentate, was going to vaporize me lest someone ask me a question for this week’s column, two of you nobly stepped forward and put yourselves between His Potentosity’s vaporizing cannon and my tiny green body.
And they say chivalry is dead.
Pandora Spocks stopped by to inquire what my favorite X-Files episode is. I’m going to get back to her on that one because that show was more or less a documentary of the Mighty Potentate’s 1990’s era efforts to colonize Earth and impregnate a skeptical female FBI agent. I need to consult with the Potent One to see what he does and doesn’t want you humans to know.
So this week, I’m taking a question from PBBPB of the Paperback Beauty Pageant.
Ahh, the book cover. That often shortchanged yet oh so important part of the publishing process. 3.5, you could write a tale so eloquent that it makes Shakespeare’s collective works look like a pile of stinky crap and yet, if it’s packaged with a cover that looks like it was drawn by weirdoes, no one’s going to bother reading it.
Sure, you might argue, “I’m a writer, not an illustrator!” And while that’s true, the cover is usually taken by the reader as the first sign as to whether or not you’re taking your craft seriously. Do you, as an author, understand the burden of keeping an audience happy? You might fail, or more likely, some of your readers will love what you do and others will despise it, but the key question answered by the cover is whether or not you are at least making an effort to entertain your readers.
That’s why I stand by Bookshelf Q. Battler. No matter what, he’s at least trying to entertain people. (Oh, and also, you know, the MP says he’ll make with the vapey vape if I abandon him so there’s that.)
On his blog, PBBPB posts covers from old and lame sci-fi novels, usually published somewhere between 1950-1980. From his writing style, he’s clearly gifted with a unique sense of humor, one that he uses to lambaste these covers and poke out their failures (as well as their nonsensical plots).
Some of my favorites:
The robot that’s spooning a spaceman.
Inappropriately placed alien hand.
Metal monster has hots for space babe.
Self-publishers, let this be a lesson for you. Do your research to find a designer with a proven track record of producing quality book covers, then dig deep into your pockets to pay him.
Otherwise, you might end up with a book cover featuring characters wearing nothing but leather lederhosen, because for some reason, people from the 1950’s to 1980 assumed that space was going to be lousy with people wearing nothing but German S and M bondage gear.
Now then, on to PBBPB’s question:
Mankind has enjoyed and suffered millennia within what is essentially a fish bowl. We look out at the stars which, though distorted by our atmosphere, speak volumes to us from distances likely untraversable in the lifetimes of ourselves or our posterity. Should we, as a species, encounter a traveler from a world who was able to bridge the gap between the cosmic backdrop and our planet, those millenia of history will come crashing down upon the poor being’s head, whether we intend it or not, through interaction and negotiation with us. It isn’t our fault, really, but we’ve only had ourselves to talk to for as long as we’ve lived, and have no operational context with which to engage in first contact. Given the vast differences in our experience, cultural and personal, I have to know—what’s your favorite Earth snack food?
I like it. So many writers take themselves way too seriously. This dude is a fresh change of pace.
You pose a question within a question here.
Humans do have a bad habit of envisioning themselves as the only beings in the universe. You’re right, it’s not your fault. It’s all that you know. In many ways, I envy you. You get to go about your lives and focus on the mundane and the trivial without having to be preoccupied by constant Moloklaxon attacks as my species does.
Those Moloklaxons. Truly, the a-holes of the cosmos. Don’t even get me started.
Humans, think about it. You sit on a giant ball in the middle of a vast sea of black nothingness. Your scientists have determined and demonstrated to you there are other such balls throughout the void.
When you look at all these balls (stop laughing!), how does it not occur to you that there might be sentient life on another ball other than your own?
OK. You know what? Fine. Just keep laughing at the word “ball.” This is why you people are falling behind the rest of the universe.
Would an alien find it difficult to communicate with you? Depends on the being. A Moloklaxon would just eat you.
Meanwhile, I’m able to communicate with you just fine, but I’m a highly advanced being able to express myself in your language.
There are limits. You can’t pronounce my real name so I have to go with “Alien Jones.” And I refer to myself as a “he” even though I am junkless, just because your language doesn’t account for the possibility of a sentient life form that isn’t a man or a woman.
Sorry, but I’m too accomplished to allow myself to be referred to as an “it.”
Oh, and I do wish the Mighty Potentate had chosen a forum with more range than a book nerd’s blog that only draws in 3.5 readers, but who am I to question the Mighty One?
To get to the more important question, what is my favorite Earth snack food?
I am partial to funions. They are delicious and the name on the bag does not deceive for they are made out of (or at least taste like) onions and they are fun.
The Mighty Potentate is partial to buffalo wings, so much so, that he once tried to shoot me out of a cannon directly into our world’s sun because I failed to bring him the requisite blue cheese sauce when I picked up an order for him.
It wasn’t my fault. They always screw you at the intergalactic drive thru.
See? We have some of the same problems you do, incompetent fast food workers chief among them.
Finally, my government mandated life partner, Alien Rosencrantz, is a big fan of chili cheese fries. Luckily, we have very efficient metabolisms so they don’t go straight to his thighs.
You have to have an efficient metabolism when you don’t have a butt, after all.
Thank you for saving me from death by vaporization, PBBPB. Your name has been added to the protected rolls in the event that one of the Mighty Potentate’s plans for Earth conquest proves successful.
Alien Jones is the Intergalactic Correspondent for the Bookshelf Battle Blog, on a mission to raise Earth’s collective intelligence levels one question at a time. Do you have a question for the Esteemed Brainy One? Tweet it to @bookshelfbattle on Twitter, leave it in the comments on bookshelfbattle.com, or stop by Bookshelf Battle on Google Plus. If he likes your question, he might even promote your book, blog, other project in his answer.
Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.