Contest: Science Fiction Blurbs

by J.D. Roth

Contest! Want to win some free science fiction books? Read on…

Why isn’t science fiction respected as mainstream literature? Take a gander at these book blurbs, each of which was taken from the latest flyer for the Science Fiction Book Club. These are hilarious, and not in a good way.

Here’s a contest: Tell me which blurbs are real and which blurbs are fake. Whoever has the most correct answers by next weekend wins three books recently purged from my scifi library. (Please do not cheat. That takes the fun out of it. Just make your best guesses without any outside support.)

  1. Changelings — When a scientist gets wind of the shapeshifting ability of the Shongili twins, she plans to kidnap them for study and experimentation. They must flee their home on Petaybee, for though the planet is protected from exploitation, its people are not.
  2. Definitely Dead — When mind-reading cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is summoned to be Queen of the Vampires in New Orleans, she’s more puzzled than worried. But that’s before all those folks start trying to kill her.
  3. In Fury Born — Aided by a self-aware computer and a Fury from Old Earth mythology, an ex-Marine seeks vengeance when raiders murder her family.
  4. Mammoth — When ruthless billionaire Howard Christian’s arctic team turns up a frozen mammoth, a watch-sporting 12,000-year-old man and a time-travel device, he can’t decide which he wants more. Until the device brings rampaging mammoths to Downtown L.A.!
  5. The Protector’s War — Nine years after the Change rendered technology inoperable only a few pockets of civilization remain. Two communities thrive in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. But the army of the Protectorate is coming for their priceless farmland.
  6. Dragon’s Fire — Pellar, a mute orphan boy, is taken in by Masterharper Zist and his wife, Cayla. They are concerned with the fate of the Shunned, particularly with the Red Star due to return soon. In time Pellar decides he must unravel the disappearance of Moran, Zist’s previous apprentice. Pellar also finds a reclusive community of watch-wher breeders, led by a half-mad woman named Aleesa. They were driven from their homes by the local feudal chief, D’gan, who hates the watch-whers. Pellar convinces the group to trust him and to allow him to take an egg away with him. The egg is extremely valuable. But is it worth the risks Pellar takes to transport it?
  7. The Ghost Brigades — Three alien enemies are moving toward war against humanity, aided by a turncoat scientist. Cloned from the traitor’s DNA, Jared begins to intuit his motivations. But time is running out…
  8. Queen of the Slayers — The forces of darkness are more eager than ever to regain dominance. As apocalypse draws near, the mysterious Queen of the Slayers emerges. She turns Champions against each other in her determination to claim the intoxicating Slayer essence.
  9. Promise of the Witch King — The assassin Artemis Enteri and the dark elf Jarlaxl search for the Witch-King’s treasure. At the gate of the Bloodstone lands, they find themselves in the midst of a struggle between the ghost of an evil lich and an oath-bound knight.
  10. Heir of Autumn — Ruled by eight Children of the Seasons, the city of Ohndarien falls to tyranny when Brophy, the Heir of Autumn, is accused of murder and exiled. Brophy must find a way past treachery — and the secret held within the dreams of slumbering child.
  11. Solstice Wood — When Sylvia meets the women of her grandmother’s sewing circle, she learns why she’s been called home: Lynn Hall is the door between this world and Faerie — a realm the circle seeks to bind with magical stitches. And Sylvia is now its heir…
  12. The Wizard of London — Two mismatched girls at an Edwardian boarding school reveal startling psychic gifts under the watchful eye of headmistress Isabelle Harton. But when a power-mad Elemental Mage also learns of their rarified gifts, Isabelle’s quest to shield them puts her on a collision course with the greatest Mage in England — the Wizard of London.
  13. Danse Macabre — Anita Blake should be thinking about the ardour, the sexual power that flows between her and Jean-Claude, Master Vampire and Richard, her werewolf lover. It is reaching new levels…perhaps evolving into something altogether new. The unexpected effect of this is that Jean-Claude’s own power as a master vampire have grown. Richard, always unpredictable is changing too. On top of all this, Anita may be pregnant. And while not knowing whether the father is a vampire or a werewolf or someone else is bad enough, life as a Federally licensed vampire killer is no way to raise a baby.
  14. High Druid of Shannara — Pen Ohmsford had paid dearly in his quest for the darkwand, the wand made from the ancient tanequil. His friends hide from Druids while the trolls are besieged by savage Urdas. Can the scattered friends join forces in time to defeat the evil.
  15. Southern Fire — On the Aldabreshin Archipeligo, magic is anathema. When magic-wielding savages terrorize a southern realm, warlord Kheda must act to save his domain. He turns to Dev, a man who is everything Kheda despises, a peddler of vice…and a wizard.
  16. Crystal Gorge — The enemy is close to the Treasured One’s secrets, while the Dreamers are in danger of delivering a nightmare to the Elder Gods. It falls to the humans to fight back the Vlagh…if the realm of Dhrall is to live.
  17. Crown of Stars — In the series finale, Sanglant fights to legitimize his rule with Liath as his queen. As the Ashioi sow discord among the humans, Lady Sabella and Duke Conrad try to seize the crown, while Liath seeks forbidden magic to heal the war-torn land.
  18. Memories of Ice — A new threat looms over beleaguered Genabackis. The Pannion Domin’s fanatical minions devour all who refuse its sadistic priest-king’s creed. When the city of Capustan is threatened, Dujek Onearms rebel army must forge peace with their old enemies.
  19. The Stardragons — Eons after humankind is gone, when the Universe itself is collapsing, only the Stardragons remain. They begin an epic quest to find the Birthplace — source of all life in the universe.
  20. Micah — A routine assignment turns difficult when Anita Blake must deal with her feelings for were-leopard Micah while raising the most dangerous zombie of her career.
  21. Geodesica — The post-human Exarchate controls both ftl technology and the Naturals of the far-flung system — until a mysterious alien construct threatens their rule. But Geodesica will prove more dangerous than anyone can imagine.
  22. The Anubis Gates — When a 20th-century scholar time-travels to 1810, he’s soon face to face with a the ka of an ancient Egyptian sorceror, a deformed clown of crime, and a body-stealing werewolf…all involved in a sinister plot to change history.

Each of the real blurbs was copied exactly — spelling, punctuation, and all. I think the Science Fiction Book Club needs to hire a new blurb writer. A couple of these are from well-known authors or are highly-regarded books, but you wouldn’t know it from these summaries!

“You know,” Kris said to me as I read some of the blurbs to her, “It’s no wonder they have to sell these five for a dollar.” And it’s no wonder that people don’t take science fiction seriously.

When the contest has finished, I’ll go through and post Amazon links to the real books. Have fun!

Updated: 17 June 2006

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