To begin, behold this exquisite illustration, created by request by artist Jeff Zugale:
Yes, yes, I know. Hold on a minute and I’ll explain. But first:
Short Form: For the benefit of the Lupus Alliance of America, John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton and Subterranean Press are running a fan fiction contest, in which contestants write a 400 to 2,000 word story describing the picture above. Any form of fan fiction is acceptable except slash explicit sex. The winner of the contest will be paid for their story (10 cents a word), win a prize pack of books from Subterranean Press, and will have their story published in a special electronic chapbook featuring stories about the painting, written by Scalzi, Wheaton, Catherynne Valente and Patrick Rothfuss, to be published later this year, with profits to benefit the Lupus Foundation of America. E-mail the stories with the text in the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59pm Eastern, June 30, 2010. One entry per person.
To answer your question: Yes. That’s me. As an Orc. With an axe. And Wil Wheaton. In the INFAMOUS clown sweater. With a spear. On a unicorn pegasus kitten. With volcanoes. I mean, of course, because how could you have Wil Wheaton and a ScalzOrc together without volcanoes?
And now, to your other question, which is: ZOMFG WHY?
The answer: Oh, come on. You really have to ask why to the man who commissioned The Velvet Wesley? There is no why. There is just: The picture. Of me. As an Orc. And Wil. With a spear. On a unicorn pegasus kitten.
So, there is no why. But there is a what, as in, what is Wil Wheaton doing astride a unicorn unicorn pegasus kitten, in the INFAMOUS clown sweater, aiming a spear at an Orc version of me?
And that’s where you come in.
You see, the fact is that neither Wil nor I know how we got to the point where we are in the picture. We are open to theories. Theories in the form of fanfic. That’s right: We’re looking for fan fiction which explains what the holy hell is going on in that picture. Because if ever a work was made for fan fiction exegesis, it is the image above.
So, here’s the plan: You write a 400 to 2,000 word fanfic about the picture above. Come at it from any angle you like to explain, illuminate or otherwise bring to life what’s going on in the picture above. Our only request is NO slash fanfic stories with explicit sex (please). But other than that, knock yourself out.
When you’re finished with the story, in addition to whatever else you do with it (hey, it’s your fanfic, we hold no claim to it), send a copy of the story to email@example.com by 11:59pm Eastern, June 30, 2010 (one entry per person), with the text of the story in the e-mail (no attachments, please). When you do, you’ll enter your fan fiction into a contest.
If your fanfic of the picture is chosen by our Jury of Awesomeness, your story will appear in a special electronic chapbook about the picture, with other stories written by me, by Wil, by Norton Award winner and Best Novel Hugo Award nominee Catherynne Valente and by Patrick Rothfuss, best selling author of The Name of the Wind. You will be paid for your story at the rate of ten cents a word (twice the SFWA minimum professional rate), and you’ll receive a special prize pack of books from Subterranean Press, which will publish the electronic chapbook later in the year.
We have plans for the chapbook: We’re going to sell it online, and the proceeds of the chapbook will go to benefit the Lupus Alliance of America, an organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus and providing support, services and hope to all people affected by lupus. As folks who know and love people affected by this disease, this a cause and foundation we believe in and want to help. The donation will go through the Alliance’s Michigan/Indiana affiliate.
So look at again at the picture. Of me. As an Orc. And Wil. In his clown sweater. With a spear. On a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten. With volcanoes. You know that’s a story you want to tell. So tell it. And please feel free to tell everyone you know about this contest — and this image. Clearly, it’s something best shared with as many people as humanly (or Orcishly) possible.
Update, 8:44pm: Artist Jeff Zugale shares the process of creating this time work of art.
Update, 6/1, 9:28am: There’s been some discussion in the comments about the “no slash” request, so let me clarify: “slash” in this case is meant to refer to explicit sex depictions, not the general possibilities of m/m-liciousness. Slashy non-explicit stories? Go nuts. Sorry for any confusion. Also, to be super-clear, no explicit sex of any kind, please.
Update, 6/1, 11:18am: Video of the reveal of the work during the Super Happy Fun Time With John and Wil at Phoenix Comicon.
Update, 6/3, 11:55am: Follow up post answering some questions and comments is here.