And it’s a guest! Remember last July’s Kindle SFF event that showcased Technological Angel on Tim Flanagan’s blog? Well, I got meself a couple of those books and I’m very slowly wading through them. The Ultimate Inferior Beings struck me for the humor and the crazy story and everything else. I like humorous sci-fi a lot. So I contacted the author, and he sent me this very interesting guest post – and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to check my Kindle again with this new insight. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mark Roman!
Indexplicable by Mark Roman
At the back of The Ultimate Inferior Beings, past the story itself, beyond the Glossary and just after the Appendices, you’ll find an Index. But there’s something wrong with that index. If you look closely you’ll notice that some of the listed page-numbers are beyond the end of the book, and there are multiple entries for common words such as “the” and “a”. The word “index” itself appears 16 times.
So, what’s going on? Did I mess up? Did my publisher mess up? Who should be held responsible?
I sometimes ask people if they’ve read the Index. They give me a puzzled look and humour me when I urge them to do so. Then, when I ask again later, they respond in a somewhat vague manner, “Er, yes, sure I read it.”
“Great! What does it say about you?”
This throws them. “Huh?”
I repeat the question and now they’re staring at me as though I’m mad. “It didn’t say anything about me,” they say. “It’s an index. Get a grip.”
Or words to that effect, before edging away, never to be seen again. Which makes me suspect they haven’t read it. Pity.
One reviewer liked it, although for the wrong reason. She felt its total pointlessness was in keeping with the book’s off-beat nature. So, she hadn’t read it, either. Disappointing.
The idea for it came to me in the shower many, many years ago. (I should, at this point, issue a Spoiler Alert. Skip this paragraph if you want to try cracking the Index yourself). I was musing about book indexes in general – like one does – and wondered how much of a book could be reconstructed from the index alone. Could one reconstruct the entire contents? What if every page of this imaginary book contained only a single word, and the index indexed them all? That would do it! So, off I went to write it – which took some time as it was in the days before personal computers, so everything had to be done by hand.
Eventually the Index ended up at the back of TUIB. I was confident readers would immediately spot that it wasn’t genuine; then they’d get to thinking … and soon afterwards, hey presto, they’d solve the puzzle!
So, did they? Has anyone actually read it? A few people have because I explained how to do it. Some managed to crack it fairly quickly just by knowing there was a puzzle to be solved; others needed more clues. A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from a reader in the US telling me he’d read it. I know he’s not fibbing because he told me what the Index said about him. He’d done it without any clues, all on his own. Smart chap. Maybe there are others out there like him. I hope so.
Have you read the Index, by any chance? Really? Great! What does it say about you?
Book: The Ultimate Inferior Beings
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0089TF3LU
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0089TF3LU