Athena Offers Her Take on the Greatest Existential Question of Our Time

This is definitely one of those “you either get it or you don’t” things.

71 Comments on “Athena Offers Her Take on the Greatest Existential Question of Our Time”

  1. The cake is a lie, John. The cake is a lie.

  2. We only had three bits and didn’t expect such a rush!

  3. That’s one big knife Athena has in her hand. What kind of cake is it?

    How can I decide without knowing that important fact?

  4. The cake is a fallacy.

    And I’ll have the chicken as well, please.

  5. John, you of course traded Athena a fork for that knife right after this picture was taken, right?

    Right?!?!

  6. Obviously, with the knife extended out towards the camera and the cake pulled back towards her, she’s saying “My cake, your death.” Best answer I’ve seen yet!

  7. Huh. Have to admit I’m rather baffled. My guess:

    “Q: Will John Scalzi’s daughter stab you in the face if you try to take her cake? Mmm. Come to think of it, that cake looks…”

    “A: OH GOD MY FACE MY BEAUTIFUL FACE”

    Am I close?

  8. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Unless of course, it’s eggless cake, in which case the question would be, Is it any good?

  9. paranoyd – I am a father, an aspiring writer, and avid gamer. I am also into horror and scifi. I'm currently the Adventure league Local Coordinator for my area, and I'm really into the new FFG Star Wars RPG system. And I love a good curry.
    Corby Kennard

    “Good thing we’re Church of England.”

  10. Wil@4

    “There was even going to be a party for you, a big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend, the companion cube. Of course, he couldn’t come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn’t come either because you don’t have any other friends because of how unlikeable you are. It says so right here in your personnel file. ‘Unlikeable. Liked by no one. A bitter unlikeable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. SHALL NOT BE MOURNED.’ That’s exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says that you were adopted. So that’s very funny too.”

  11. It’s actually a post-modernist take on Marie Antoinette, isn’t it? Historical photographic still life, translated into modern commentary on the enduring class struggle between rich and poor.

    The utilization of repetitive color — the deep royal blue — set against the neutral beige and earth tone are indicative of the deep delineation between the entitled classes and the common folk. That Athena sits in such a way as to block the door, itself marked by the same rich blue, suggests there is only one way out — and that only the wealthy have access to the exit.

    The placement of the delicious and rich looking cake on a black plate further symbolizes the fate of of Marie Antoinette for being so careless and offhand about the poor — for her, death was indirectly related to the cake just as it was directly related to the guillotine (the knife).

    There’s so much texture here, so many levels..it’s a brilliant composition, Scalzi, and Athena, with her resolute, yet innocent face, is the perfect stand-in for both the spectre of fate and the incomprehensible Marie.

    I do think that it might be better served, however, if Athena were looking askance, perhaps to her left, as if contemplating the unseen but inevitable future, with the knife pointed along the tracking of her gaze…just a little more left…little more…

    *steals cake — runs*

  12. Presenting false dichotomies simply shows she is a helpless product of our crappy school system. She has solid career prospects in talk show punditry though.

  13. The picture looks like she’s cut her hand off and replaced it with a plate, to more efficiently carry cake around.

  14. I can’t believe no one’s seen it yet. Some came close.

    It’s obvious.

    She’s going to halve her cake, then eat it too. (Probably both halves.)

  15. Wil@#4:

    With Athena armed like that, do you think we’d have to assume the party escort submission position, and wait for escort to go get the cake?

  16. Huey @20: Clearly, you haven’t been watching enough Doctor Who. If you were keeping up, you’d have seen The Doctor explain that anyone can have their cake, then eat it. The real trick is to eat your cake and still have it afterward.

    Well, you know, to still have it in cake-form.

  17. Dammit, it’s like an earworm for comedy. Now I have to go and watch Dress to Kill. If I’m lucky that will appease the worms.

    I suppose it just serves me right.

  18. Annalee @ 39: actually, if you use a TARDIS to power a paradox machine, I’ll bet you could eat your cake and have it in cake form afterwards. Okay, so that’s probably bad for the universe in some cosmic way, but what has the universe done for you lately? It’s probably making fun of you right now with that incessant padapa-pum, padapa-pum that it does just to irritate you.

  19. Thanks to you, I realized Eddie Izzard is on tour. Thanks to the Husband of Wonderfulness (i.e., MINE) I now have tickets to go see him in D.C.

    I am filled with glee.

    Did she get the cake from the Death Star Canteen?

  20. This seems like a trick question. How do I know that the cake isn’t laced with arsenic?

    Alternatively, we have not established whose death we are bargaining for in this arrangement.

  21. Come on people. This is Scalzi’s daughter. I can’t believe no one has gotten the obvious Shakespear reference…

    “Is this a Kitchen Dagger I see before me?”

  22. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang in pain

    Chicken, please!

  23. This would have been a harder one if you hadn’t so recently squee’d about yer Izzard tix, ya know. Context is everything.

    Well, as a writer, you probably know that. So never mind.

    But I’m going to post this anyway. Can’t force myself to take the “or silence” option. The posting is just too tasty.

  24. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

    Cake or death… Now in Hebrew!

    This seems like a trick question. How do I know that the cake isn’t laced with arsenic?

    Um, sorry, but the question isn’t “cake XOR death.”

    And thanks to comment #4, I finally, viscerally understand why Wil Wheaton is awesome.

  25. Adam J. Whitlatch – Bonaparte, Iowa – Adam J. Whitlatch is the author of over sixty works of speculative short fiction and poetry, as well as the young adult science fiction novel E.R.A. - Earth Realm Army and the urban fantasy novella Retribution: Book I of the Blood Raven Saga. His work has appeared in Six Sentences, Northern Haunts: 100 Terrifying New England Tales, Dead Science, Shroud, Crossed Genres, The Drabbler, and Vicious Verses & Reanimated Rhymes just to name a few. Adam lives in southeastern Iowa with his wife and two sons. He is currently studying to become an English teacher.
    Adam J. Whitlatch

    Thank you for flying Church of England, Cake or Death?

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