Jeffrey, but for the fact that I’ve encountered at conventions a lot of self-important folk like this person, embarked on missions of a gravity that I could not possibly appreciate, I would say you’ve got the platform for a drama in the manner of Harold Pinter or David Mamet here.
I know that I tend to get self-important when sent on missions of extreme gravity at conventions, such as finding a corkscrew for the room party that lacks one. However, I am also usually moving at high speed when I’m on missions like that!
Yes, a great short story, and we got it all for free.
Karen Joy Fowler
Yes, this is a truly great story and I’m glad you shared it! Full of mystery and impending doom. A tale for our times.
It reminds me of Harlan’s semi-mystical story about meeting a disappearing Cornell Woolrich at a cocktail party. Of course, it’s all in the way that Jeffrey tells it.
All that torque.
Stefan: I know it was a little off topic, but that instance stuck with me over the years, and I always wanted to get it down in writing. Tried to keep it as brief as possible but I lacked the “necessary qualities” to do so. It has mythologocal overtones to it — like Aurthurian or something from the Wasteland. Just one of the reasons I really enjoy the conventions I go to. Most important of all, of course, is seeing and spending some time talking to friends I’ve made over the years and hardly get a chance to see all year.
It’s truly a 100% true.
Needs an ending, though, where it turns out that he IS Mephistopheles. Or a time-traveller.
Or an agent.
Or all three.
Yes, most agents are.
Except maybe for the time-traveller part.
In the time-traveller version, the writer finishes the dying fantasist’s final work, but this alters the future, with the result that the fantasist lives on and the collaborative work is criticized as not measuring up to the fantasist’s previous efforts.
In the Mephistopheles version, the writer completes the dying fantasist’s work and goes on to great renown, but at the expense of his soul.
In the agent version, the writer completes the dying fantasist’s work, and the agent gets 15% (plus the writer’s soul).
Gary K. Wolfe
I have to admit that I’m finding this discussion about the most fascinating of all the Locus Roundtables so far. Apart from learning that Jeff left the world’s greatest fantasy writer to die alone in an Arizona hotel room, possibly attended by Mephistopheles, it seems to be about as complex and insightful a collective definition of how this community works that I’ve seen in any one place in years.