As the applause slowly died out China Miéville, Iain M. Banks and Alastair Reynolds walked off the stage and into the wings, glad to be out of the glare of overly bright spotlights.
“I think that went well,” said Alastair Reynolds expositorially, “for a symposium on British science-fiction… “But did it feel a little bit contrived to anyone else?”
“Ahem.” Iain M. Banks cleared his throat theatrically, which was apropos, given the surroundings. The others looked around to see him holding a small silver orb. “Apologies gentlemen, but this won’t hurt for long.” The orb flashed like white phosphorus, a concussive blast flinging Alastair Reynolds like a ragdoll and knocking China Miéville to the floor. Dizzied and nauseous he got to his feet, looking round to check on Alastair Reynolds, who was hanging unconscious from an uncomfortably metallic lighting rig.
“Hmm…” Iain M. Banks seemed put out to find one of his rivals not yet incapacitated. China Miéville lurched unsteadily toward him, intending to disarm him at the very least, when he heard a family brogue behind him.
“I see you’ve met my associate, Iain M. Banks.”
China Miéville turned, stunned more completely by the presence of a identically brown-suited and rakishly unkempt Scottish writer in the form of Iain Banks than he had been by Iain M. Banks’ futuristic flash grenade.
“Writing is hard,” was the only explanation Iain Banks offered as Iain M. Banks pinned China Miéville’s arms behind his back.
Iain Banks stepped forward, fist raised in preparation for delivering a sound thrashing. His shock lessened by the imminent threat of the aforementioned Dunfermline thrashing, China Miéville dropped to one knee, rolling his shoulder so as to throw Iain M. Banks over, tossing him bodily into his less genre-courting double. Where their bodies met the air was rent with a terrible tearing sound, the force of it pushing them apart. The rip opened wider and wider by the second, and began to draw all the air in the room into itself.
“What have you done?” Iain Banks was screaming, repeatedly, over the howl of air rushing into the hole in reality.
China Miéville stayed low to the floor as Iain and Iain M. Banks were pulled inexorably towards the anomaly, and within moments Iain Banks was gone.
“There will be repercussions…” Iain M. Banks threat was almost lost as he too disappeared into the void which, sated, closed behind him.
In his accent the word “repercussions” sounded strangely comical.
WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE