What’s Desmond Reading?
Button, Button by Richard Matheson.
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Shameless self-promotion: I have a new story out as of last month called “You Can Not Have a Meaningful Campaign if Strict Time Records Are Not Kept.” By far, it’s the longest title I’ve ever employed. It’s a direct reference to something, and I wonder if anyone stopping by will recognize it. If you’re under about thirty-five years of age, probably not. Answer at the bottom.
The particulars: “You Can Not Have…” appears in the anthology Keystone Chronicles, edited by Juliana Rew and published by Third Flatiron Press. The premise: any interpretation of “keystone”; that is, something on which other things depend for support, the heart or core of something, the crux, or central principle.
Our Problem-Child: Langerfeld the Moon by Marilyn K. Martin
Hunt, Unrelenting by Sierra July
Coding Haven by Brandon Crilly
Splinters by Maureen Bowden
Desol 8 by Edward Palumbo
Telling the Bees by Judith Field
Daman by Zerrin Otgur
You Can Not Have a Meaningful Campaign If Strict Time Records Are Not Kept by Desmond Warzel
Racial Memory by Gustavo Bondoni
The White Picket Fence by A. P. Sessler
Every Planet Has One by John Marr
See You on Hel by Bear Kosik
The Keystone Mine by John M. Campbell
How Far Away the Stars by Sam Muller
To Their Wondering Eyes by Sharon Diane King
TANSTAAFL by Bascomb James
Rejection by Larry Lefkowitz
I Should’ve Known Better by Art Lasky
Remembrance of Saint Urho by Damian Sheridan
The title: “You Can Not Have a Meaningful Campaign if Strict Time Records Are Not Kept” is a direct quote from Gary Gygax’s first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, one of the core rulebooks of the original version of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The book was completely chaotic, with no chapter or section breaks, and information imparted in seemingly random order. It’s a glorious dog’s-breakfast of odd charts (prostitute encounter table, anyone?), oft-ignored rules (encumbrance, psionics), and awesome Gygaxian prose that fortified the vocabularies of all of us gamers who were lucky enough to read it (abjuration, castellan, hobilar, menhir, troglodyte…). Right in the middle of a relatively pedestrian section on time management, the above title appears out of nowhere in URGENT CAPITAL LETTERS.
I’ve always been amused by that phrase, and this is one of those cases where I chose it as a title and then wrote a story to fit. “You Can Not Have…” isn’t a D&D-style story at all; rather, it’s a humorous time-travel piece (in fact, fair warning: this one’s a little wacky, even for me). I hope some of you pick up the book and check it out.