Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Handbook for Supervillains: The Joy of Minions

Note: Minions should rarely be this
The Joy of Minions, or Why You Need Employees

As I discussed in chapter one, ruling the world is simply too large a job for just one supervillain (yes, even one as impressive as you - have you been paying any attention?) Most other worthy supervillain ambitions also fall into this category, the only possible exception being if you plan to do something with computers. (And if that's the case, then I feel it's my duty to tell you that computer-based plans for world domination don't get much further these days than scaring traditional news media. Besides, anonymity is the name of the game with hacking-based evil - the only thing you could really do under your own name is the takeover of a company, and with the economy the way it is that can be accomplished by a reasonably clever and well-funded 12 year-old).

If it helps, don’t think of them as personnel. Goons is quite a popular term, but can seem out of place if the employees aren’t suitably hulking. Minions, however, can be applied to a far wider range of staff. Minions can be made to do all sorts of dirty work, from helping to build your fortress of terror to arguing with the phone company that no, no one from this number ever made a 20 minute long distance phone call to San Quentin, and you have no idea why they would even think such a thing.

Also, they tend to be very convenient for standing in the way of bullets that would have otherwise ended up in your very attractive person (bodyguards, one of the greatest uses for minions that I have personally ever heard of) or throwing themselves on the hero in a fight. Of course, unless they are particularly impressive minions, they will be immediately defeated by the hero by something as incredibly ludicrous as a single punch to the jaw.

Yes, I know this is unfair. I completely agree with you, and would urge you to write your congressman (or have them assassinated, depending on your opinions of civic involvement) if I thought it would do any good. But it won't - it's written into the heroes contract, and there's nothing we can do about it. So I would advise you to, instead of worrying about it, allocate more minions for just that purpose, and consider every time they fall as one less bruise for you.

Also, minions endowed with a certain degree of intelligence (not as common as you might think, sadly) are great at information gathering. The obnoxiously snobby fellows with headsets and mouthpieces stationed in front of computers that always seem to be surrounding international supervillains in the movies are great examples of this. They always seem to be shouting something to whoever has been declared in charge for that particular scene, and it must be important enough that they haven't all been shot before this (though I suspect one of them is there strictly for ordering take-out). The great failsafe is for one of them to be "watching the perimeter," but any other information they should get for you is, of course, completely up to you. You can't expect me to handle everything.

As an added bonus, minions simply make you look more cool. Don't ask me why this happens, but the general thought process of anyone watching seems to be "Well, I thought he was the scum of the Earth (don't kill them at this point - it gets better) but he does seem to be able to control all these people. Oooooooh, he must be much more scary and impressive than we thought!" The fact that most of these people are here simply because you have promised to pay them a healthy sum of money (whether you'll actually deliver is entirely up to you) and they are less scrupulous then some of their fellow humans is for some reason never mentioned. For the sake of your image, I suggest you keep it that way.

Next: The Hiring Process, or Torture Is Optional

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Flash fiction #2: Gods of the Party

Artemis, like all goddesses of the
hunt, tended to be a little too fond
of camping. (Wikipedia)
One of the groups that gets mentioned in “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.” is the National Association for Retired but Still Mighty Gods and Goddesses (NARSMGG). They don’t get much play in the book, but the idea just fascinated me.

Gods of the Party
by Jenniffer Wardell

They let Hephaestus and Aphrodite plan the Winter Solstice party.

Hephaestus was a god of building things, and unlike most of the pantheon knew how to plan for things that didn’t involve smiting. And goddesses of love and beauty always knew how to throw great parties, even if it was just so they’d have the proper setting to shine in. Also, most of the club members couldn’t remember hearing the two scream at each other very often, which was a rare thing among married deities and always a plus.

(What no one said out loud was that they were quickly running out of options. A giant snake broke through the wall and crashed every party Odin and his family tried to throw, and Coyote couldn’t be trusted to stick to a budget. Everybody agreed that Osiris was a nice guy, but after last year everyone also agreed that gods of the dead should never be left in charge of party planning. Kali was a fun girl, especially for a goddess of destruction, but she tended to throw chairs.)

It turned out, though, that the reason Hephaestus and Aphrodite rarely screamed at each other was that they were rarely in the same kingdom at the same time.

“I’m not building you a new sound system! The old one works just fine!”

“It’s fine for normal gods, you lump, but I need something as magnificent as I am!”

“Well, whatever you come up with had better be pretty small, or there won’t be room for both it and your swollen head!”

“Ares thinks my head is gorgeous!”

“You idiot, your head isn’t what he’s looking at!”

In the end, the only way to avoid bloodshed was to have two smaller parties. The quieter gods went over to Hephaestus’s place for hot chocolate and a cozy forge fire, while the wilder gods went out drinking with Aphrodite.

The fact that the club building was still standing at the end of it all automatically made it the most successful party the gods had ever thrown.  Hephaestus and Aphrodite were unanimously voted as the club’s permanent party planners.

Well, almost unanimously. But there was no pleasing even a godess's mother-in-law.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Fairy Godmothers, Inc." flash fiction: "Petalphobia"

Thanks, Wikipedia!
One of the defining traits of being a geek is the need to know all the little facts and stories that don’t make it into the movie, novel or comic series. I’m a super geek, which means I can’t stop the need even when it comes to my own novel. So I’m collecting here all the super-short stories (flash fiction, I believe their called) and other little bits that emerged when I wanted to explore more of my world than could successfully fit in a novel. This first bit is a memory from Kate’s childhood, and came of me wondering what it might be like to actually be related to classic fairies.


Kate was 12 before she met any of her full-blooded fairy relatives. A distant cousin was graduating from flight school, and his parents had apparently invited everyone who might be at all willing to give their son a present. Her own parents, surprisingly, had decided to go.

The obsession they’d all had with plant life was disconcerting, to say the least. The students had worn magically-enlarged helicopter seeds on their heads instead of mortarboards (this was fairy flight school, after all), and everyone had insisted on at least one major piece of floral wardrobe. One woman had an entire skirt made out of petals, making her look like an enormous peony who had gotten lost and wandered into the event.

Later, Kate discovered that this woman was her great-aunt Peony. “What a remarkably … uncolorful child,” she had said, bending over close enough that Kate was choking on the petal skirt. Her parents didn’t seem to notice, so Kate took matters into her own hands and fought her way free. The skirt, which hadn’t been magically protected, ripped as easily as any normal plant life would.

Kate fell backwards, staring up at the now horrified-looking old woman. Her wings hurt, she hadn’t had anything to eat but candied petals for two full hours, and no one was around to yell at her. “Your skirt looks like a goat’s been chewing on it,” she told her great-aunt, not feeling guilty in the slightest.

Thankfully, the more flowered-covered relatives ignored her for the rest of the evening. For the next six months, though, Kate couldn’t help but feel nervous every time she got near a peony.