Pardon my catarrh: funny words in fantasy
finely-boned face and bespoke the creature, "Then
will I dine tonight with Mucronulates! Embusk!
Kind of makes your flesh crawl, right? It's amazing
what just a few fantastic touches can do for mood. But,
here, let's try a pact-with-the-Devil story:
Alone now in the Wizard's sanctum, Tryma
rummaged among the embusks till he found one of
sufficient size. Then, carefully he filled it with
sedge, ullage, and a pinch of vidual. Slowly he
stirred it, four times dorking-wise, and paced out
the forgotten words inscribed on the floor: Mucro-
nulate, Powers, pratchant thy night.
T + *
Last but not least, I'd like to show you what my fantasy
vocabulary can do with heroic ballads. Now, anybody
who's read a bit of fantasy lately knows that the ballad is
in, and it ain't all Tolkien. The modern fantasy ballad is
not iambic so much as club-footed, and the author's alterlogisms generally make it worse. But just see if this doesn't
leave you senseless with wonder:
Beneath the seas of dorking,
Catarrh clouds shift—He wakes!
Tryma, the Nameless One
of ancient Ullage.
Embusk, yet pratchant, the Thing hears;
But cannot speak the gammadion words
Of His freedom.
Mucronulately, now, He waits, does
Children, shall we sing the viduals
Sedgeless huddle when
I must say, I'm looking forward to the day the Universal Language of Fantasy comes about. For one thing, it
will do away with those pesky pronunciation guides, and
I'll be able to find the story in fantasy books without
feeling like I'm cramming for an exam first.
There are other benefits, too. Standardized alterlogisms
will promote accessibility without hampering creativity,
and they'll bring back to fantasy narratives that soothing
rhythm which is so fragile that sometimes the slightest
hint of content can disrupt it.
As the candle flames flickered and danced their
shadows up the wall, Tryma observed the floor
enclosed within the gammadion seem to gi\e way
and lose its substance. There was a flash, the
candles blew out, and all was plunged into
Tryma seized his lantern and illuminated the
gammadion to find huddled within its confines a
rather feeble looking demon, holding its hand
before its face in the sign of Catarrh.
You see, properly used, the same alterlogisms can liven
up any sort of fantasy: they can even out-Cthulhu H. P.
I froze in terror as my flashlight played upon the
gammadion lines of the form before me. Even
Weston's journal had not prepared me for the
inconceiveable hideousness of the Thing, its
mucronulate viduals pratchant in the yellow beam.
As the pounding of my heart subsided, I could
hear the awful dorking sounds which issued from
the Thing's writhing tryma. My presence had disturbed it, I knew, and there would be scant hope for
me if I became embusked in the pulsating ullage it
The only chance I might have was the tiny sedge
which I carried in my watchpocket, the token
which poor Weston had placed so much faith
in ... if I was to emerge from this cavern of terror,
it would have to serve me better than it served him.
Now. The viduals seemed to slither toward me,
and the stench of catarrh filled the chamber. Now
was not the time for scientific speculation. As my
hands scrabbled for the sedge and final hope, the
flashlight dropped from my nerveless fingers.
BARRY R. LEVIN
SCIENCE FICTION &
2253 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90064
17th through 20th Century
Bought and Sold