If Popular Fiction Could Be Bred

I spent this last Wednesday night the same way I spend every Wednesday night—sprawled on the couch in my boxers amidst a pile of Little Caesars pizza boxes and crushed Dr Pepper cans watching The Pagemaster. As the movie ended, I shed my customary tears for Richard Tyler and the valuable life lessons he learned and the courage he gained. The credits began to roll and I took two things away from the movie.

The first was the thing I took away from the movie every time I watched it: A fleeting curiosity for whatever happened to Macauley Culkin’s career.

The second, and entirely new, thing was this burning question: What was up with all the sexual tension between Adventure and Fantasy? I mean, they’re books. That’s weird.

Whatever, says I, it’s a movie. Let it be.

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the image out of my head of a world where anthropomorphic books went around getting’ it on. It was deeply disturbing to me for a number of reasons but namely because I couldn’t even begin to imagine the specifics of how that would work. For someone with a fairly creative mind, that’s saying something. On top of that, the characters that introduced me to this idea were voiced by Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg. Talk about bad mental images.

As the night wore on—believe me I wasn’t about to be able to get to sleep—I started looking at it from different angles and the creepiness began to fall away. An intriguing concept arose, what if that was just how new books were made. Say for instance, Adventure knocks up Fantasy with a first draft and then nine months later they’ve got a newly published book.

You would no longer need a solitary writer, cooped up in a dark room, to slave away in front of a computer screen for hours in order to pen a new novel. Instead, you could just lock two books in a room with a couple of shots, maybe play some Marvin Gaye, and BAM! True literary romance.

That’s right, Stephen King is the frat boy of popular fiction. He gets around.

So what would this book-breeding mean for the world and how would it change the landscape of fiction?


The Best (and Worst) Collaborations Ever


Everyone loves a good collaboration. And by everyone I mean me. I just assume everyone else does too because I’m selfish and project my beliefs on to others. Surely if I say them often enough and loud enough people will come around to my beliefs even if they’re ridiculously insane. Right?



Anyway, the notion of unlimited collaborative potential in fiction makes me giddy. I’m a sucker for a good team-up. That’s why The Avengers and the Justice League have so much appeal. Sure, the individual super heroes are interesting and engaging on their own, but to see them interacting with other super heroes in the same book is exponentially more exciting.

If you could breed books, you’d be able to have any author combination you could ever dream up. Think for instance, if you took books by two of the greatest minds in science fiction and fantasy, Frank Herbert and J.R.R. Tolkien, and made one glorious book-baby. The resulting product would probably split the sky with blinding light, creating a cloud stairway, paved with gold and diamonds, that would ascend straight to Nerd Heaven.

You Complete Me.

You Complete Me.

However, with great power does come great responsibility. This could open the door to some of the largest literary disasters in the history of ever. Imagine, if you dare, the above pictured Glenn Beck’s bestseller The Overton Window combined with the slightly less vapid Gossip Girl series. Yeah, that aneurysm you’re having now? I feel it too.


Inevitable Inbreeding


You know this would happen. Say you like a book so much that you only want to read books exactly like it. You just put two copies of the same book together and there ya go. While it might sound like a good idea at the time, I assure you the results would be just as defect riddled as the inbred children of humans.

When I started writing a column on books having sex, I promised myself I wouldn’t make any Twilight jokes. That’s a dead horse that had been beaten time and time again. Still, I can’t shake the image of thousands of pre-teen girls putting two copies of the book in their closet and eagerly awaiting the results.

Seriously, with endless collaborative possibilities, why would someone want to read the exact same story over and over again just slightly repackaged? Oh wait. We call that the Romance genre.


Bookstores Become Brothels


When you walk into your local bookstore you find two separate sections of books. Those for sale, and those for “sale”. You can either buy new books to read or you can bring in a book of your own and pay to have it spend some time with another book behind the curtain in the back of the store. Now that sounds like a respectable establishment to which I want to give my business. Because everyone has thought at one point or another, ya know what we need to add to the fun experience of buying books? Shame.

And those are just the new book stores. Imagine what the used bookstores would look like. Used bookstores are already dingy, low lit places that might as well be book graveyards. We don’t need those to be worse.

In a world where books breed, the used bookstores would be smoky shops lit only by black lights. When you walk in, bad European electronica is playing from a broken down set of speakers and books are all spread around on couches and bean bag chairs. In the corner, you see worn out Westerns, well past their prime, shooting up syringes of ink. On a table, an unwanted paperback lets more prestigious books snort lines of white off its cover.

Desperate Times

Desperate Times

This is the true face of book breeding, in all it’s vivid, seedy squalor. You back out of the used bookstore, feeling like you need a long hot shower, and vow to never again read a book as long as you live.


And that, ladies and gentleman, is why you should never watch The Pagemaster.

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