Clash of the Geeks, Ten Years On
Posted on September 20, 2020 Posted by John Scalzi 22 Comments
In the more innocent days of 2010, I commissioned artist Jeff Zugale to create the amazing image above, of me as an orc, doing battle with a totally ripped Wil Wheaton, who is astride, of course, a unicorn pegasus kitten. The image was designed to evoke wonder and curiosity, like “what the hell?” and “why is John Scalzi, as an orc, doing battle with a mega-buff Wil Wheaton, who is riding, of course, a unicorn pegasus kitten?”
It’s that last question that gave us the impetus for Clash of the Geeks, a small chapbook anthology whose several stories, by me, Wil, Patrick Rothfuss, Catherynne Valente and Rachel Swirsky, all centered on, what, exactly, was going on in the illustration. These stories were, well, rather silly, but obviously that was sort of the point. If you can’t have fun with the picture above there’s something wrong with you.
But there was a serious goal for the chapbook as well: To raise money for organizations supporting those who suffered from Lupus. Clash of the Geeks was offered for free here on the site, but we encouraged people to donate to lupus-related organizations, and specified the Michigan Lupus Foundation in particular, because our friends at Subterranean Press, who published the chapbook, were in Michigan (and Gretchen Schafer, wife of SubPress publisher Bill Schafer, was and is someone living with lupus). We ended up raising something like $25,000 for the Michigan Lupus Foundation, in addition to whatever people donated to other lupus-related charities (we weren’t keeping track of those). For something silly, we did some good.
Today is the tenth anniversary of the release of Clash of the Geeks. Because Whatever and its various subdomains (including unicornpegasuskitten.com) have been moved around and/or redirected over the years, direct access to the Clash of the Geeks chapbook has been difficult — it’s become a bit of a lost, if fondly remembered, piece of Scalzi ephemera. Given the day, it seems appropriate to make it accessible once more.
So: Here is the PDF of Clash of the Geeks. Here also are the ePub, Mobi and RTF versions, courtesy of the Internet Archive (which will also show you a version of the original UnicornPegasusKitten.com site here). As before, there is no cost to this chapbook — it’s yours, enjoy! — but if it inspires you to donate to a lupus-related charity, that would be lovely. Thank you for continuing to make Clash of the Geeks something that is useful as well as fun.
And what about the brilliant artwork above? Well, we made two prints of it. One, we auctioned off for charity. The other I framed and now it’s displayed in our guest room, over the fold-out bed. When people come into the room, their first question about it is “what the hell?” and, “why?!?” or some variation thereof. It’s nice to see that even after a decade, it still reaches people.
Also, for everyone who visits my house and then sleeps under the orcish Scalzi and buffed out Wheaton, and, of course, a unicorn pegasus kitten: Sweet dreams.
Also, I have now redirected unicornpegasuskitten.com here, so hopefully that will resolve access issues.
That is seriously cool!
I remember well when you first showed it to me on your phone when I picked you up from the airport. That was definitely one of the highlights of my time with Phoenix Comicon.
Where is the sequel, Scalzi?
And the infamous clown sweater. The ultimate ugliest of ugly sweaters.
I think that instead of “unicorn pegasus kitten” one might even more accurately say “one-horned kitten hippogriff”.
Wow, it’s really been ten years? “Ten! Years, Man! Ten! Years!” (thanks to Grosse Pointe Blank for the quote) Amazing how time flies when you’re not holed up waiting for Armaggedon.
Unikitten with wings!
And if it had an unfortunate ocular accident, it would be a One-Eyed, One-Horn, Flying Tawny Scalzi-Eater. (Sing it!)
Thank you for this. My father-in-law died of lupus 11 years ago, so I am especially grateful.
@Rick Moen: Sure looks strange to me…
Why is Wil wearing a bare midriff clown sweater? or is that explained in the book as well?
So Catherynne Valente’s story is why the cat in Head On was named Donut?
@Gin – Reference to the clown sweater here. It is a piece of early internet infamy for Wil that he would rather forget, but is a good sport about.
I love you guys. That is all.
Has anyone actually seen Scalzi and Shrek together in the same room?
The painting & stories are good fun, thank you! And a worthwhile reason to help out one of the lupus-focused charities in my state.
Rothfuss’s “The Lay of the Eastern King” is priceless for its dead-on imitation of skaldic poetic diction, but I outright LOLed at this bit:
Fleeing was folly
so Scalzi the sceop
Gave one longing look
down on sweet Samarand.
Then brought out his broad axe
great Grimnir gleaming
Forged from the fire
at the dawn of the world.
Weapon of Wodemar
fiercest of fighters
But crap at canasta
so Scalzi had skinned him
And won the brave blade
with a cut of the cards.
I would have expected Orc Scalzi to be wielding a bludgeoning weapon, more like some sort of Hammer of Kind Adjustment perhaps, rather than an battleaxe.
Sorry if this has been addressed, but the book cover image appears to be broken.
Hmm. Also a scene in Paolini new book…To Sleep in a Sea of Stars..where the holographic design on the door features the pig and the cat…no further info to prevent a spoiler alert.