A visit to Thog’s Masterclass

Every issue, Dave Langford’s popular science fiction fanzine Ansible includes “Thog’s Masterclass,” hilarious examples of…well, I won’t call it bad writing, because sometimes the examples come from generally excellent work by excellent writers (though not always), but even the best writer is occasionally guilty of infelicitious phrasing. The current issue has a particularly good selection (the second one is my favorite):

• Eyeballs in the Sky Dept. `His eyes ran like weasels over the faces of the other players …’ (Philip José Farmer, `Attitudes’, F&SF 10/53) [PDF]

• Dept of Spung! `Even through two layers of combat armour, I felt her nipples brush against my back …’ (Karl Hansen, War Games, 1981)

• Close Shave Dept. `Moonlight ran up her cheek like a knife.’ (Nancy Kress, Beggars in Spain, 1991) [BA]

• Dept of Submersion. `The impact rattled his bones, and he dog-paddled furiously before he realized that the flood was only waist-deep at the bottom, instead of wholly submerged as it would have been in the real world.’ (James Stoddard, The High House, 1998) [NR]

• Neat Tricks Dept. `The priest’s richer, deeper voice chased the Thiefmaker’s objection right back down his throat.’ `The Thiefmaker tried to let a vaguely sincere expression scurry onto his face, where it froze in evident discomfort.’ (Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora, 2006) [RGP]

• Dept of Sound Effects. `If the professor’s machine body had been equipped with a heart, it would have sung for joy at these welcome thought impressions.’ (Neil R. Jones, `The Jameson Satellite’, 1931) [TMcD]”

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