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The Order of Oddfish

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Behold Murphblog’s Order of Odd-Fish Week

April 27, 2009


What a coup! Paul Michael Murphy has declared it Order of Odd-Fish Week” on his blog Murphblog. Every day this week, Paul will run segments of his long, in-depth interview with me.

With a contest! And pictures! And audio of Paul himself reading a selection from The Order of Odd-Fish! Here’s the first installment, from Sunday night, in which Paul and I talk about my road to writing Odd-Fish and getting it published.

Thrill to the Cinderella story of how I met my fantastic agents and editor after years in the wilderness. Gasp to discover how Odd-Fish was nearly tragically cut in half. Be slightly confused by a picture of me talking to a banana while lifting weights.

Interesting coincidence: Paul Michael Murphy lives in Holt, Michigan. I’m from Michigan myself, and when I mentioned to my father that I was being interviewed by a Holt-based blogger, there was a significant pause on the phone. Then he said, “I had a bad experience with Holt.” At first I thought my father was being whimsical. But it turned out he was serious.

My father, unlike me, was a star athlete while growing up. According to him, when his high school team, the Owosso St. Paul Blue Wave, was playing basketball against Holt, the team from Holt kept calling fouls on him even though he’d done nothing wrong, just so they could get him off the court. “I was playing the best basketball of my life then,” he said. “I was so mad. I wasn’t fouling anyone!”

A family grudge against Holt! But what Holt giveth, Holt taketh away—and vice versa? Perhaps Holt, Michigan is somehow, a generation later, repaying its karmic debt to the Kennedy family by featuring me on a Holt-based blog this week.

One can only hope so—for Holt’s sake.

To commemorate Murphblog’s Order of Odd-Fish Week, I, too, plan to blog every day this week. I also have another reason to blog every day: to bring to you more great endings to The Strange Ship: Part II! (If you’re confused, click here to learn more about my writing contest, in which I ask the Internet for assistance in writing the ending to The Strange Ship: Part II, a story I began when I was seven, nearly thirty years ago.)

The two endings to The Strange Ship: Part II that I’m featuring today are from Tom Fairless and Jordan Cooper. Tom and Jordan have two completely different takes on how the story should end—in fact, I’d call them opposite. But both are hilarious and ingenious.

First, let’s look at Tom Fairless’. If you remember, our heroes the moneymen were being pursued by the giant monsters from the Strange Ship known as Carziperes, Diploziperes, and Zarzit. Carziperes had just had his leg blown off. Oh yes, and there was a bubblegum monster earlier in the story. Let’s allow Tom to take it from there:


I love so much about Tom Fairless’ ending—not only how he finds a secret connection between the bubble gum monster and the giant robots, but also how he discovers that “death ray was a disco ball light”—but the thing I like best is that Carziperes somehow immediately acquired a cane when his leg had been blown off only seconds before. These giant robots are nothing if not resourceful!

Jordan Cooper, on the other hand, decided it would be best if everyone just died immediately:


And so The Strange Ship: Part II joins all timeless classics that end when something crashes into a big rock and blows up. Hamlet? The Prince of Denmark hits a rock, blows up. Ulysses? Big rock hits Dublin, blows it up. And when you really think about it, aren’t the complete works of Dickens nothing more than a thousands-page long chronicle of explosions caused by flying rocks?

I think Jordan Cooper has stumbled onto the skeleton key for all of Western literature. Well done, Jordan and Tom!