Posts Tagged ‘The Hooded Bastard’

It begins with laughter.  Shrieks that pierce the city twilight and emanate from an indefinite source.  China Miéville spins on his toes, his eyes scan the surrounding buildings as he searches for the origin of the mad cackle.  To his left – no! –his right, the lunatic hysteria echoes and refracts around the uniformly tall, uniformly functional, uniformly bland office blocks.  The sky clouds over and rain begins to fall, as if nature itself is setting the scene for a climactic struggle, sympathetically aware of the dramatic tableau necessitated by the oncoming conflict.

Darkness doesn’t descend from the sky; rather, it seems to rise from the streets, and with a brilliant flash of lightning that arcs calligraphically across the heavens, China sees why: he is suddenly surrounded.  A ring of men encircles him, each identically cloaked and hooded, as uniform as the architecture that compasses this urban arena.  China Miéville can feel the presence of his nemesis.  One of these men is genuine, one of them is: The Hooded Bastard.

Another blaze of lightning: and in its dazzling incandescence the hooded figures seem unnaturally to shift forwards, closing in on China Miéville.  A moment’s pause and the onslaught begins.  Several hoods break formation and charge at Mr. Miéville in a variety of overly dramatic and largely unnecessary flips and spins.  China kicks one in the stomach, dispatches two more with his fists and catching a fourth assailant by the arm, throws him to the ground.  But there’s no let-up, and a second wave of hooded aggressors attack.  China holds his own, and amid a cascading flurry of hoods and cloaks, he fights on; battle-hardened after a baffling month of increasingly surreal conflicts.

China deflects and strikes, parries and counters; disposing of tens and tens of hooded goons.  And still they come.  China’s vision is obscured by the sweeping waveforms of black cloaks; his actions are not his own; his experience takes over and China becomes a spectator to the fracas, his body a violent disconnect from his mind.  China enters a zen-state of hypnotic calm as time seems to slow and his arms and legs work of their own volition; kicking hoods, breaking limbs, deflecting attacks and striking with mechanical accuracy.

An age seems to pass, and then China Miéville finds himself to be the only figure standing, panting in the rain: the ground a disordered strew of prostrate and supine hooded doppelgangers.  China bends down and pulls back the hood of the nearest figure to reveal… nothing.  Just cloaks and rags; the hoods are all empty. 

But then: clapping.  China stands and spins to face the applauding figure of his nemesis; the real Hooded Bastard.

“And yet it moves” crows China’s foe “very well, I will take care of you myself.”  And with this, The Hooded Bastard charges towards China, a wild banshee howl screeching from the darkness of his hood.

China Miéville is tired of these games, and he grabs The Hooded Bastard mid-run and delivers a stern blow to his abdomen.  The Hooded Bastard collapses to his knees, wheezing, and China grips him by the throat.

With a sudden and violent jerk, China yanks back his nemesis’ hood to finally reveal his identity.  The Hooded Bastard is: Paolo Bacigalupi, the man forced to share the 2010 Hugo Award for best novel with China Miéville. 

“Yes, it’s me” he gasps, “but there’s something you should know” and looking China in the eyes, he begins to laugh “it doesn’t end here… there’s somebody else… somebody who forced me to do these things.  All this time I’ve been working for… for –” but before he can utter the name, Paolo slumps forward: dead.  A long, slender throwing knife protrudes from the back of his head.

China looks up and catches a glimpse of a figure: a dark, muscular silhouette runs down an alley, and away…

WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE

CHINA MIÉVILLE vs. THE JOKER

Posted: June 5, 2011 by Thom Dicomidis in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

It was night, and the rain lashing down in near-biblical proportions had tempered the police’s vigilance as they watched over the rift which Iain and Iain M. Banks’ impossible collision had opened. So, as a giggle began to peal from… somewhere else… they didn’t notice over the storm. Soon it was a guffaw, and while they had begun to feel uneasy the armed officers didn’t attribute it to anything more than the rift itself. It was only when the laugh became a roar, echoing out around the street, that they moved into action, taking up positions with their weapons ready. The laughter stopped

The moment stretched out into a minute and more, the laughter never abating, the police’s adrenaline fuelled tension creeping ever upwards. Then, suddenly, movement. The police opened fire as a shape blurred out of the rift towards them. It was over in seconds, the figure falling at their feet. It seemed human, its arms were bound behind it’s back. The lead officer gingerly turned the figure over, then stepped back. The face, hidden by some kind of grotesque harlequin mask, started to shake as the laughter resumed. Too late they thought to flee, an explosion tore the figure apart and scattered the police, variously dead and unconscious.

“Ha ha hah ha.” Pale faced and noxiously green of hair, The Joker emerged from the rift. “Welcome back to London town, right boys?” He drew a oversized revolver from the inside of his purple jacket. “Let’s make a scene.”

But China Miéville, ever vigilant for the weird, had been watching the rift from atop a nearby building. He leapt into action and off the roof, his coat casting a misleading shadow. The Joker  turned and fired, impossibly fast, his fixed rictus becoming confusion in the second it took to realise that China Miéville was not his arch-foe. The full impact of this arrived simultaneous with China Miéville’s foot. As he looked down at the unconscious clown prince of crime a voice like two slabs of obsidian being ground together sounded behind him, resonating through his bones.

“Good work soldier.”

China Miéville span in place, fists raised in preparation for whatever fresh hell the rift had spat out.

“Put those down soldier. I’m the goddamned Batman.”

China Miéville dropped his fists down to his sides, too shocked to take much more of this madness.

“Now, what do you know about The Hooded Bastard?”

WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE

When Iain Banks collided with Iain M. Banks, a rip in the universe opened in London and all kinds of evil, disgusting creatures flooded out.  But now the rift has been quiet for several weeks, and has even become somewhat of a tourist attraction – people queue for hours to stare into the trembling, glowing darkness.

Lady Gaga is so impressed with the portal that she has used her not inconsiderable influence and finances to construct a stage around the tear, ready for her London gig.  Now she is onstage, performing in front of thousands of fans as the rip glows in the background; the most ominous but beautiful light display ever used.

China Miéville is not happy that the rip is being trivialized as a special effect at a pop-concert, so he stands watch at the side of the stage, ready, in case the gig should go momentously wrong.

Lady Gaga is gyrating across the stage, wearing what can only be described as a toilet seat, when a cloaked intruder invades the platform; it’s China Miéville’s evil nemesis: The Hooded Bastard! Seemingly recovered from his recent gunshot injury, he sprints towards Gaga, and with unnatural force he pushes her into the rift before dashing away, pursued by security.

The music stops; the fans cease cheering, and silence descends on the arena.  Lady Gaga is gone: swallowed up by the portal.  Moments later, however, she re-emerges to great applause.

But something is not right; another Gaga exits the portal, wearing what can only be described as a book of carpet samples: and then another Gaga emanates, wearing what can only be described as a filing cabinet.  Soon hundreds of Lady Gagas are flooding out of the rift, each dressed in uniquely bizarre apparel.  They begin attacking the fans and a panic erupts: people flee the arena, desperate to escape the rampaging army of demented Gagas.

China Miéville runs onto the stage to drive back this hoard of clones.  One Gaga (wearing what can only be described as several trout) attempts to kick China in the stomach – but a stern punch to her face soon dispatches her.  Another Gaga (wearing what can only be described as a photograph of bees) leaps at China’s head – but he catches her by the ankles and swings her through the air, throwing her back inside the portal.

Lady Gagas now surround China, hundreds and hundreds of them.  He fights them off – a flurry of kicks and punches as he deflects their assaults.  But there are too many of them; this is hopeless!  China Miéville realises what he must do – to destroy the copies, he must defeat the original Lady Gaga. 

He fights his way across the stage, holding off the relentless Gaga assault, when he finally spots her: the Gaga wearing what can only be described as a toilet seat.  Removing his hooked ear-rings, China throws them towards Lady Gaga.  Mid-air the cybernetic worms come to life and then – they make contact! They burrow inside Lady Gaga’s eyes, into her skull and a moment later she drops limp to the floor.  Instantly, the hundreds of Gaga clones evaporate, as if they never were.

China Miéville stands alone on the stage; all is quiet.  The Hooded Bastard is nowhere to be seen.

WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE

 As China Miéville made his way through the dusty Cairo market he basked in the bustle and noise. He stopped to watch a snake charmer but he could feel eyes colder than those of the serpents watching him… The Hooded Bastard leapt out from crowd, roaring a battle cry. The crowd between he and China Miéville scattered as he twirled his scimitar menacingly. The steel glittered in the hot sun and a combination of the exertion and his climate-inappropriate clothing made The Hooded Bastard rue the day he settled on his criminal moniker, and sweat a little, of course. China Miéville looked around for something to fend off the attacker only to have a revolver thrust into his hands. It was heavier than he’d expected, and as he turned around to point it he felt sickened. He called out a warning, but as The Hooded Bastard kept approaching he fired a single shot.

The crowd, who had been watching The Hooded Bastard’s scimitar acrobatics, scattered at the sound of the shot.  China Miéville dropped the gun to the dusty street and walked to his fallen foe. He grabbed The Hooded Bastard’s shoulders and shook him peering into the unnatural gloom of the aforementioned hood.

“Ah, ah-ha ha ha… ah-ha.”  The Hooded Bastard laughed falteringly. “You’ll never know who I am… and next time… next time… you won’t see me coming…” He sagged into unconsciousness, his threat seeming senseless and hubristic. China Miéville stood, planning to call for some form of medical help for his inexplicable foe, when The Hooded Bastard’s prone form started to shake. For the first time China Miéville noticed a coil of rope attached to his enemy’s cloak, which was rapidly unfurling as its far end trailed off into the distance. Before he could react The Hooded Bastard was gone, being dragged away by some unseen motive force. China Miéville thought about giving chase, but it was too late.

Apart from that stuff at the end it was a total rip-off of that fight from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 

WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE

CHINA MIÉVILLE vs. BANKSY

Posted: May 26, 2011 by Thom Dicomidis in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

 

The footsteps at his back came in short bursts, his inexpert stalker allowing him to get ahead then hurriedly rushing to close the distance between them. Tired and irritated China Miéville rounded the corner and stopped, pressing his back against the wall, and listened for the patter of conspicuous feet. As the stalker, dressed head-to-toe in black and hooded, rounded the corner China Miéville grabbed him roughly by the throat and squeezed a tacit but unmistakable threat.

“Wait!” The hooded figure gasped through incipient strangulation, “I’m not the Hooded Bastard! I’m renowned graffiti artist and wall-botherer Banksy.”

The name had barely left his lips as China Miéville’s fist shot up in a punch, staggering Banksy.

“My work has an important social message.”

The response was a brutal kick which sent Banksy stumbling into the wall. The ball-bearings in his cans of spray-paint rattled as he sat heavily.

China Miéville unhooked his earrings and tossed them at Banksy. In flight the cybernetic worms awoke, they landed on Banksy’s chest with their teeth bared. His eyes went wide as they burrowed into his chest and dug into his circulatory system, then slack as the worms neatly lobotomised him. Stepping forward, China Miéville held out a small case to collect his pets as they struggled out through Banksy’s tear ducts.

The police were never able to trace the anonymous message that told them where to find the inert artist.

WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE

Alain de Botton and China Miéville shook hands warmly.

“So,” said de Botton, “What did you want to meet about?”

“Ah, ah-ha…” A voice from the walkway above them interrupted, laughing humourlessly. “I’m afraid I brought you both here under false pretences.”

Both authors looked up, seeing a hooded figure whose face was in shadows. It lifted a sack over the edge of the barrier with one hand and, with his other, tossed a sword and shield down between China Miéville and Alain de Botton. With his now free hand he raised a sawn-off shotgun to the bag and prodded it roughly. It began to stir, mewling pitifully.

“Unless you fight, to the death of course, I will shoot this bag of kittens.”

China Miéville and Alain de Botton stared at him in disbelief.

“Orphaned kittens.” He added unnecessarily.

“You… Hooded bastard…” shouted de Botton. The Hooded Bastard just laughed.

“Begin, please.”

Kicking the shield to de Botton, China Miéville picked up the sword and they began to spar unenthusiastically. The Hooded Bastard screamed at them to fight more fiercely and jabbed at the sack, making the orphaned kittens yelp. As Alain de Botton and China Miéville fought they exchanged ideas in quiet whispers and coded exertions. Enacting their desperate plan Alain de Botton fell to his knee, shield sparking under the rain of blows from China Miéville’s sword. Suddenly he turned, throwing the shield at the same moment that China Miéville let fly with the sword. Too surprised to react, The Hooded Bastard fell back as the shield struck him in the chest, and found himself holding the tattered edges of the sack, the sword having sliced the neck of the sack. As this played out China Miéville and Alain de Botton sprung into action, gently catching the falling kittens.

When they looked back up at the balcony, The Hooded Bastard was gone…

WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE (morally)