The Art of Darkness

Mark Reads “Shadow War of the Night Dragons”

June 18th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Book CoverOkay, this backstory is going to take some time to explain, so buckle up.

John Scalzi is a noted science fiction author (let me recommend his Old Man’s War, which is a conscious and spot-on homage to Robert A. Heinlein, and The Android’s Dream, which is hilarious) who also runs a popular and well-worth-reading blog.

Last year on April 1 he unveiled his “secret fantasy project,” a trilogy of novels called The Shadow War of the Night Dragons. His publisher posted an excerpt of the purported first novel, this being the first sentence:

Night had come to the city of Skalandarharia, the sort of night with such a quality of black to it that it was as if black coal had been wrapped in blackest velvet, bathed in the purple-black ink of the demon squid Drindel and flung down a black well that descended toward the deepest, blackest crevasses of Drindelthengen, the netherworld ruled by Drindel, in which the sinful were punished, the black of which was so legendarily black that when the dreaded Drindelthengenflagen, the ravenous blind black badger trolls of Drindelthengen, would feast upon the uselessly dilated eyes of damned, the abandoned would cry out in joy as the Drindelthengenflagenmorden, the feared Black Spoons of the Drindelthengenflagen, pressed against their optic nerves, giving them one last sensation of light before the most absolute blackness fell upon them, made yet even blacker by the injury sustained from a falling lump of ink-bathed, velvet-wrapped coal.

And, of course, after letting his readers stew in their own outraged juices for a few days, he announced that the whole thing was, of course, an April Fool’s joke.

But here’s the thing: That stupid story has taken on a life of its own. It was nominated for, and won, Tor’s 2011 Reader’s Choice Award. This year, on April 1, Tor announced that they were launching a manga version of the series (which Scalzi then threatened to actually write). And then the “excerpt” was nominated for a Hugo Award and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win.

And now, the newest twist in the tale.

Mark Oshiro started his Mark Reads project by reading–and commenting copiously and hilariously upon–Twilight. Then he moved on to Harry Potter and a number of other works. His shtick was that he read all of these things “cold,” with no prior knowledge of the books, so all of his commentary was wonderfully unencumbered by spoilers. His latest project is Mark Does Stuff, where for a mere $25 he will make a video of himself reading anything you want.

One of Scalzi’s fans sponsored a reading of that same silly Shadow War of the Night Dragons excerpt, and it pretty much broke Mark’s brain.

It’s just so…beautiful.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. WitchArachne Says:

    That was brilliant. I need to buy that book now

  2. Sally Says:

    I have to wonder if Scalzi was inspired by the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Actually, I don’t wonder. The first paragraph was the essence of the dark and stormy night ridiculousness. Anyway, I loved this. I had to stop the video a couple of times and replay a couple sections because I was laughing so hard I could neither see nor hear.

Leave a Reply