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*****

The Alex Kilgour Jokebook

The Sten series - read by millions across the planet - was nearly dead on arrival. To be completely accurate, it was very nearly dead before my late partner, Chris Bunch, and I were halfway through the first book.

This was to be our Novel debut - the realization of dreams that had begun for both of us when our ages were still in the single digits.

What the clot could be wrong?

We had a contract from Del Rey Books commissioned by none other than Judy Lynn del Rey herself. We had a thorough outline of the first book, plus outlines for eleven others. (As the years went by the 12 books we originally envisioned were pared to a leaner, meaner eight.) And at the point we sputtered to a halt we were two hundred damned pages into the book.

Each and every day, no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't get our Sten mojo going. We'd sit hunched over our keyboards, brows furrowed so deep you could have planted whole fields of turnips. Then one of us would groan, the other would moan, and we'd quit and break out the Scotch.

One day Chris made a depressing admission. "The trouble is," he said, "is that I've started to hate the little bugsnipe."

I didn't have to think long before I came to the same realization. I just didn't give a horse's fat patootie about Sten one way or the other. And I was one of his creators, for clot's sake!

Chris said, "Here we have this kid whose parents we kill at the very beginning of the story."

"And his brother and sister," I said. "Don't forget them.'

Chris snorted. "How could I frigging ever? He won't let me." Then he said, "We've got two hundred pages of this little buttwipe dragging around, going Boo-Hoo, Woe Is Frigging Me. I'm so sad and lonely I could kill myself."

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