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MIND MELD: It’s Time to Play SF/F Mad Libs!

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week’s Mind Meld is more of a fun activity rather than a specific question. I recently bought a booklet of Doctor Whoo Mad-Libs.  The TARDIS has since become something having to do with  sweatshirts, and at least the Doctor’s hair isn’t aquamarine. Anyways, with that entertaining experience in mind, I asked our panelists to give me a short paragraph that is quote from, takes place in, or is about their favorite SF/F realm, but replace all the important nouns, adjectives, adverbs and other important bits with [noun], [adjective], and [adverb].  You too can play along with some (un)suspecting friends, and let the entertainment begin!

Ian Tregillis
Ian Tregillis is the son of a bearded mountebank and a discredited tarot card reader.  He is the author of the Milkweed Triptych (Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil) and Something More Than Night.  His newest novel, The Mechanical, is the first volume in the Alchemy Wars trilogy.  He lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other disreputable types.

Our [noun] caravan had traveled three days into Shadow, escorted by one of the Royals — ­­ her name was Florence, Flower, something like that ­­ when the [plural noun] attacked without warning. [adverb] they tore into our guards, as a [noun] devours [plural noun]. They slurped down the poor bastards’ [nouns] with the [adjective] sound of [noun] forced through the fingers of a surgical [noun]. The beasts snarled with muzzles full of [adjective] [nouns], sending [plural noun] raining on us. These were shape­shifting offspring of the [noun]. The [adjective] enchanters from the Courts of [noun] had found us, and [adjective] indeed they must have been to practice their [adjective] art so close to the one true [noun]. Our escort commanded us to, “Drive, damn you!” and thus began our [noun]­ride. Our wagon hurtled through veils of Shadow like a [noun] through [adjective] tissue paper, and in its wake a [adjective] panorama of [nouns], [adjective] scents, and fleeting [plural noun] assaulted our senses.

Tom Doyle
Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen is the first in a three-book contemporary fantasy series from Tor. In it, two soldiers will fight their way through the magical legacies of Hawthorne and Poe to destroy an undying evil–if they don’t kill each other first. You can read or listen to more of Tom’s work at www.tomdoylewriter.com.

The enormous [noun] exploded up from the desert sands of Arrakis. [name] the noble [adjective] warrior, wished to [verb, present tense] it. The warrior’s eyes were the color of the [noun] from eating the sacred [noun]. The warrior stuck his [adjective][noun] into the [adjective][noun] of the giant, and he rode it [adverb] across many leagues of waterless waste. “I am the Kwisatz Haderach!” he cried.

Lisa McCurrach
Lisa McCurrach has been blogging and reviewing SF/F since 2012, and reading since she learned how to. (Her optician can probably back that up.) When she’s not online, it’s either because she’s at work and had no say in the matter, or because she’s a) out buying books, b) finding sustenance, or c) not being terrible at crochet. Those things are generally considered less unpleasant than the work. You can find her at her blog (http://overtheeffingrainbow.co.uk/) or on Twitter – @EffingRainbow.

(Quoted from Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman)

She could still remember the day her mother told her about [a place]. She described it as the most [adjective] [noun] that could ever be, reminding Cathy of her mother’s [noun]. Even back then the seeds of [noun] were growing in her [noun]. The details were vague; the [adjective] Sorcerors split the worlds to keep the [adjective], [adjective] and [adjective] Fae away from people, depriving Mundanus of [noun] and the [noun] of the Fae. When she’d asked if their family lived in  [a place] her mother had laughed and said she was one of the [adjective] who lived between the Split Worlds, in something they called the [noun]. Her mother said they were [adjective] but the reasons why didn’t stick in Cathy’s memory. After her experience with [Famous Person] she felt more sympathy for the Sorcerors. [A place] was better off without the Fae.
Scott Lynch
New York Times Best Selling author Scott Lynch is the author of the Gentleman Bastards trilogy, most recently The Republic of Thieves. He also fights fires on a volunteer basis in the wilds of Wisconsin.

Down flew the Witch-King of Angmar, [adjective] Captain of the Nazgul, upon his [adjective] [noun].

“Now, [adverb], comes the triumph of Mordor!” His voice was like the wail of a [noun].

“Hold,” cried [adjective] Eowyn. “Ere that [adjective] fate comes to pass, you must [adverb] face me!”

[adjective] mortal [noun]!” The Witch-King raised his fearsome mace. “I cannot be slain by any [noun]!

“Eowyn smiled [adverb]. “I am no [noun],” she said.

Rachel Cordasco
Rachel Cordasco has been reading at the dinner table, under the bedcovers, and during classes since she was in elementary school. She got her Ph.D in literary studies just so she could win arguments about the classics and wear patches on her jackets (neither of which has happened). Currently, Rachel is a Book Riot and SF Signal contributor and writes reviews and bookish commentary for her blog Bookishly Witty. You can find her on facebook at and her snarky tweets @Rcordas.

No one knows exactly what happened in [name of a place], but one day it started changing into a [adjective] [noun]. All [noun] life  was eradicated from the [noun], and several [plural noun] were sent in to investigate. Each was struck down, either by insanity or [noun]. One [noun] in [same place], [adverb] called “[noun],” held some answers to the mysteries of what happened, but no one had gotten close enough to the [noun] at the bottom to learn anything. Meanwhile, the [plural noun] on the Tower [plural noun] were alive and [adverb] changing, sending out [plural noun] when anyone got too close. Another [noun], the [noun], also held clues to the mystery of [same place]. Hundreds of expedition [plural noun] were piled in a [noun] inside, and a [noun] showing a lighthouse-keeper and a young [noun] was left on the upper [noun]. We may never find out what is really [verb ending in -ing] in [same place] (could it be [plural noun]? Another [noun] poking through into our own?) but we’ll probably never stop studying it, either.

Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spends her time practicing piano, studying karate, and playing a variety of role-playing games. Her new novel, Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, book 3) is forthcoming from Tor books.

[Plural unit of time] after the fall of the High Ones, their elven descendants struggle to [verb]. Unlike their [adjective] ancestors, they have become [adjective] and [adjective]; some of them ride giant telepathic [plural animal] and howl at the [noun]. But everything [verb] when one elf, a chieftain called [name], embarks on a quest to [verb] the [adjective] tribes and unite the [plural kinship term] of the High Ones again.

Lesley Conner
Lesley Conner is an editor for Apex Publications and managing editor of Apex Magazine. Her first novel The Weight of Chains is coming out in 2015 through Sinister Grin Press. You can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

The Goblin King stood in the window of his castle looking out over the city. Panic filled the streets. Another girl had nearly made it to the center! That’s it! He needed a [adjective ending in –er] labyrinth! He watched as [number] goblins [verb ending in –ed] into the battle on [type of animal]. They barely made it across [number] streets before [verbing ending in –ing] into each other and [verb ending in –ing]! Sir Didymus [verb ending in –ed] [adverb] from the Bog of Eternal Stench, [verb ending in –ing] [adverb] at his [noun] Ambrosia and waving his [noun]. The girl was right behind him. The Goblin King  ordered the [noun] fired! [plural noun] flew through the air, [verb ending in –ing] into [noun] and [noun], but leaving the girl untouched! She [verb ending in –ed] and [verb ending in –ed], making her way to the castle’s [part of building]. Dammit! Just like with Sarah! Had his guards [verb ending in –ed] nothing! The new girl was going to come in his [noun] and take her [noun] away, [verb ending in – ing] at him!  He could hear the goblins [verb ending in –ing], desperate to keep the [noun] out, but the Goblin King knew they would fail. He was surrounded by [plural noun]!

Kristin Centorcelli
Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t). You can find her on Twitter @mybookishways.

(Quoted from The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry)

I spun off him just as the [noun] beside me exploded. [ A man’s name], half-blind and scalded, fired wildly in my direction, the bullets shattering [plural noun] and punching through the black paint of the [noun]. I rushed in and to one side, but he tracked me, probably only seeing [plural noun] out of those eyes, but enough to swing the [noun] toward my [noun]. I came up outside his line of fire, took his gun hand in both of mine, and twisted sharply as I [past tense verb]. In the [noun] and in the movies the victim of a [noun] does a nice flip through the air. In the real world his [noun] turns way too fast to act  as a lever for his body, which means that the forearm bones explode inside his arm and his scream rises into the ultrasonic. I kicked [Same Man’s name] in the knee and as he [past tense verb] I kicked the other knee. He collapsed into a screaming pile of [noun].

T.A. Wardrope
T.A. Wardrope writes weird, horror and speculative varieties of fiction. His novel Arcadian Gates is available from Blastgun Books. Additionally he writes essays about film, music and literature for several blogs including Hellnotes and L’Etoile. Some of his non-fiction research has been published on Disinfo.com.

Ripley was suspended in her [noun] for 57 years. Her pet [animal] named [name] was her only companion while she slept. When she was rescued by the crew of the space salvager Sulaco she had an [adjective] story to tell them. The [adjective] representatives from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation just could believe the story she told them about the alien that had [number] mouths and [liquid] for blood. Privately they thought the part about the [body part] hugger was hilarious. After the colonists on LV-426 went missing, the [adjective] representatives decided to believe Ripley and asked her to go find the [adjective] aliens.

This turned out to be a very [adjective] adventure. She went with a group of marines and they [adverb] explored the planet. They [adverb] fought the aliens. In the end she squared off with the alien Queen. The Queen acted [adverb] when Ripley called her a [profanity]. They had a [adjective] fight but Ripley won. Now, Ripley says she will go back to LV-426 when Weyland-Yutani CEO offers to drop to his [body part] and kiss her [adjective][body part].

Wendy Wagner
Wendy N. Wagner is the author of Skinwalkers, a Pathfinder Tales novel inspired by Viking lore. Her short fiction has appeared in many successful anthologies, including Shattered Shields, Armored, and The Way of the Wizard, and magazines like Beneath Ceaseless Skies and The Lovecraft eZine. She is the Nonfiction Editor of Women Destroy Science Fiction!, which was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family.

Mist spread across the moors, obscuring the details of a landscape I knew to be [adjective], [adjective], and [adjective]. At the edge of it, the manor [verb] like a [adjective] [noun], its candlelit eyes glaring down at our approach. The carriage crept toward the [adjective] house, a [noun] knowing it risked being [past tense verb] to pieces. There were legends about the place, [adjective], [adjective] legends. All of them played out in my mind as the carriage [verbed] ever closer.

I turned to my seatmate. “Holmes,” I began, and [past tense verb]. I did not know my companion well, and I was unsure how to ask him this [adjective] question. “Are there really vampires at Radcliffe Manor?”

Tim Ward
Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for the podcast, Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He plans to show up there on occasion and at SF Signal, where he contributes occasional reviews and articles, but for the most part, this will be his main site. He grew up on DragonLance, Stephen King, and Dune. Read how he blends these influences in his serialized thriller, Scavenger: Evolution, where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America’s buried fortresses.

You remind me of the [noun]

What [same noun]? the [same noun] with the power

What power? power of voodoo

Who do? you do

Do what? remind me of the [same noun]

You’re the babysitter for your baby [noun], but now he’s gone, kidnapped by a goblin. [verb] your tights because the labyrinth [verb]. Be careful, certain [plural noun] can lead to [plural noun] and you can’t trust anyone. A [adjective], sweet troll will escort you through farting [plural noun], then give you a poisoned [noun]. Will you [verb] with the goblin prince? Be careful what you wish for.

Ferrett Steinmetz
Ferrett Steinmetz is a graduate of both the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and Viable Paradise, and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, for which he remains stoked.Ferrett has a moderately popular blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, wherein he talks about bad puns, relationships, politics, videogames, and more bad puns. He’s written four computer books, including the still-popular-after-two-years Wicked Cool PHP.He lives in Cleveland with his wife, who he couldn’t imagine living without.Find Ferrett online at theferrett.livejournal.com or follow him on Twitter.

At Callahan’s Bar, you’ll find the strangest clients: a talking [noun], a [adjective] alien who’s the vanguard of an interstellar [noun], a blackjack-wielding [adjective] piano player. But when you belly up to the [noun] and order yourself a nice [adjective] whiskey, you’ll discover Callahan’s law: “Shared [noun] is lessened; shared joy, increased—thus do we refute [noun].”

Janet Harriett
Janet Harriett is a freelance fiction editor and the senior editor at Apex Publications. Find her online at www.janetharriett.com and on Twitter at @janetharriett


The Warehouse 13 crew is on the trail of an artifact . . .

After reports of people [verb, present participle] in [adjective] daylight blaming the smell of fudge, Artie dispatched Pete and Myka to [place] in search of the [noun] that once belonged to [person]. They tracked the trail of the artifact’s destruction to a(n) [occupation] who had discovered the [adjective] object in their late grandmother’s [noun]. The couple who found it thought the artifact was merely [adjective], even though it [verb, past tense] when they held it, until those nearby started to [verb] without warning. The couple saw an opportunity to [transitive verb] their [noun]. But, as artifacts do, the power spun out of their control and soon began [present participle] everyone within a [number] mile radius with a [noun]. What’s worse, it created a vortex of [noun] that threatened to turn the city into an [adjective] crater.

The smell of fudge hung in the air and the artifact’s [noun] of energy hovered inches away from [verb, present participle] Pete. The Farnsworth rang. It was Artie. “Watch out! Claudia just found out that the artifact can interact with [noun] to become even more [adjective]!”

“You don’t say!” Myka exclaimed, dropping the Farnsworth and grabbing Pete’s [noun] to keep the field from [verb, present participle] him whole.

“Just once, I’d like Artie to send us after [person]‘s kitten or something [adjective] like that,” Pete said as he clutched a nearby [noun] to keep from [verb, present participle]. “Just bag it and tag it, Myka!”

Myka [verb, past tense] the artifact away from the couple and opened the neutralizer bag. “Close your eyes, everyone!” She dropped the artifact into the bag. Nothing happened.

“That wasn’t the artifact!” Myka screamed toward the Farnsworth, which was being sucked into the [adjective] vortex.

“Throw some goo at it, Myka!” Pete, yelled, still gripping a [noun] as if his life depended on it. She [verb, past tense] the [adjective] goo that would neutralize the artifact and flung it [preposition]. The vortex [verb, past tense] the goo, and with a flash, collapsed.

A gooey purple kitten bounded out of the epicenter of the disaster and smeared a gooey purple streak on Myka. “Want to tag this one, Pete?”

About Andrea Johnson (99 Articles)
Andrea Johnson also blogs over at https://littleredreviewer.wordpress.com/ where she reviews science fiction and fantasy novels and talks about other nerdy stuff. She's also an interviewer at Apex Magazine. Her apartment looks like a library exploded, and that is how it should be.

6 Comments on MIND MELD: It’s Time to Play SF/F Mad Libs!

  1. because silliness is fun, here’s what I ended up with! I can’t read these out loud without laughing my head off, can you?

    Elfquest madlib:
    [SECONDS] after the fall of the High Ones, their elven descendants struggle to [BURP]. Unlike their [UGLY] ancestors, they have become [DELICIOUS] and [SILLY]; some of them ride giant telepathic [WOMBATS] and howl at the [LAPTOP]. But everything [JUMPED] when one elf, a chieftain called [THOMAS JEFFERSON], embarks on a quest to [CALCULATE] the [ORANGE] tribes and unite the [SISTERS] of the High Ones again.

    Aliens:
    Ripley was suspended in her [TABLE] for 57 years. Her pet [ZEBRA] named [JESUS] was her only companion while she slept. When she was rescued by the crew of the space salvager Sulaco she had an [GOOFY] story to tell them. The [LOUD] representatives from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation just could believe the story she told them about the alien that had [42] mouths and [ORANGE JUICE] for blood. Privately they thought the part about the [FINGERNAIL] hugger was hilarious. After the colonists on LV-426 went missing, the [FAST] representatives decided to believe Ripley and asked her to go find the [GLOPPY] aliens.

    This turned out to be a very [STICKY] adventure. She went with a group of marines and they [GLORIOUSLY] explored the planet. They [QUICKLY] fought the aliens. In the end she squared off with the alien Queen. The Queen acted [STUPIDLY] when Ripley called her a [FUCK]. They had a [WARM] fight but Ripley won. Now, Ripley says she will go back to LV-426 when Weyland-Yutani CEO offers to drop to his [BUTT] and kiss her [SMELLY][ELBOW].

    and LOTR:
    Down flew the Witch-King of Angmar, [SLOW] Captain of the Nazgul, upon his [CHEWY] [CHEESE].

    “Now, [STUPIDLY], comes the triumph of Mordor!” His voice was like the wail of a [MOTORCYCLE].

    “Hold,” cried [ROUND] Eowyn. “Ere that [MELTY] fate comes to pass, you must [GENTLY] face me!”

    “[TALL] mortal [KETTLE]!” The Witch-King raised his fearsome mace. “I cannot be slain by any [BATHTUB]!

    “Eowyn smiled [PLANET]. “I am no [PLANET],” she said.

  2. So I have to find unsuspecting victims to help me with my MadLibs. Here is my man’s mad libbing of Amber Chronicles:

    Our [NERD] caravan had traveled three days into Shadow, escorted by one of the Royals — ­­ her name was Florence, Flower, something like that ­­ when the [SCISSORS] attacked without warning. [INDUBITABLY] they tore into our guards, as a [EAR] devours [TOES]. They slurped down the poor bastards’ [GAMES] with the [DUSTY] sound of [SPOON] forced through the fingers of a surgical [PONY]. The beasts snarled with muzzles full of [SPARKLY] [TATTOOS], sending [CATS] raining on us. These were shape­shifting offspring of the [PIRATE]. The [STRANGE] enchanters from the Courts of [FINGER] had found us, and [CHILLY] indeed they must have been to practice their [ITCHY] art so close to the one true [MOVIE]. Our escort commanded us to, “Drive, damn you!” and thus began our [FIRE]­ride. Our wagon hurtled through veils of Shadow like a [DRONE] through [CLOUDY] tissue paper, and in its wake a [STUPID] panorama of [CHEATERS], [FABULOUS] scents, and fleeting [DOGS] assaulted our senses.

  3. roflmao – I cannot be slain by any bathtub!! Indeed
    Lynn 😀

  4. OK, I found another unsuspecting victim. My friend Susan S. has contributed to this debauchery.

    The enormous [BOOB] exploded up from the desert sands of Arrakis. [LOA] the noble [CRAZY] warrior, wished to [WALKED] it. The warrior’s eyes were the color of the [CAT] from eating the sacred [FOOD]. The warrior stuck his [BLACK][MAMMOGRAM] into the [ACHY][MILK] of the giant, and he rode it [SWEETLY] across many leagues of waterless waste. “I am the Kwisatz Haderach!” he cried.

  5. OK, my friends Susan S. had so much fun mangling Dune, we decided to do the same to Tolkien.

    Down flew the Witch-King of Angmar, [CALM] Captain of the Nazgul, upon his [HEAVY] [COFFEE].

    “Now, [SLOPPILY], comes the triumph of Mordor!” His voice was like the wail of a [UNDREGROUNG].

    “Hold,” cried [FRIENDLY] Eowyn. “Ere that [SPARKLY] fate comes to pass, you must [CRISPLY] face me!”

    “[BLOODY] mortal [VAMPIRE]!” The Witch-King raised his fearsome mace. “I cannot be slain by any [FREEZER]!

    “Eowyn smiled [adverb]. “I am no [noun],” she said.

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