Author: Chuck Tingle
We open on an oddly self-aware note:
I’ve been writing my whole life and, somehow, despite the overwhelming odds, I’ve become successful at it. Who would have thought? (loc 4)
And this intriguing hint:
While I’ve dabbled in everything from horror to non-fiction, my personal taste lies firmly planted in the realm of gay erotica, particularly that of the dinosaur and unicorn variety. (loc 15)
I wonder if that only applies to Tuck Bingle, or to our own Chuck Tingle as well?
Then Tuck gets an unexpected email:
“Congratulations, Chuck Tingle,” I read the subject line aloud to myself. “Your book, Space Raptor Butt Invasion, has been nominated for this year’s short story Hugo Award.”
Of course this is very exciting news, save for two important flaws; my name is not Chuck Tingle, and I have never written a story titled Space Raptor Butt Invasion. (loc 30)
Tuck Bingle ruminates on the eerie similarities between himself and this unknown Chuck guy, including their names and choice of genre. He tries to email back to tell the Hugo people they’ve got the wrong guy, but his email fails to deliver because “this address is located on a different layer of the Tingleverse.” (loc 40)
There’s some fairly dense exposition about how Tuck’s been playing around with the concept of the Bingleverse, and reality is a stack of parallel worlds of varying degrees of gayness.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the stack is your universe, the universe of the reader. In this upper universe, homosexuality is simply a type of sexuality for humans to experience and enjoy. (loc 56)
Somewhere out there is there a universe where scifi/fantasy is simply a genre for people to read and enjoy, without endless fucking arguments about who’s doing it wrong? Nah, probably not.
Tuck expresses his faith that the author has put him here for a reason, and then says that the author would like him to remind us that there are reasons to suspect he’s been living in one of the deeper layers of the Tingleverse for years:
He doesn’t have time to tell you about the fact that my mailman is hunky unicorn in leather, assless chaps, or that the last flight I took was delayed because the planes were all having a hardcore gangbang on the tarmac.(loc 69)
Also the author wants us to know that this is a short story whose main function is getting off.
He says, “bare with me.” (loc 69)
…I don’t even think “bare” is a typo.
Tuck talks out loud and a barista comes over to be the voice of the author. I mean, he’s fully aware that he’s the author’s mouthpiece. He explains that the readers are way up on the top level of the Tingleverse.
“You see, up there, nobody actually realizes they’re in a tingler. They’re the readers, and for the most part their lives are pretty ordinary; no dinosaurs, no bigfeet, no living objects pounding each other in the ass all day.”
I scoff. “I doubt that, if there’s no dinosaurs then what do all the dinosexuals do?” (loc 101)
But in our world, Chuck is the only dinosexual. It’s very sad, when you think about it. Then the barista explains that Chuck has been nominated for a Hugo Award (which must not exist in Tuck’s world because the barista has to explain what it is). Not everyone is happy about the nomination:
“The guy who wrote Game of Bones?” I ask. “That fantasy series?”
The barista nods. “They made a TV show, too. On this layer it’s just a simple daytime sitcom about brutish men in a fantasy realm boning each other, while in deeper layers it’s called Game of Moans and is slightly more explicit. Even deeper in the Tingleverse it’s called Game of Butts, which doesn’t even rhyme, so you can see where their priorities are. Anyway, he has a show on the highest level of the Tingleverse, too, and he’s pretty upset about Chuck’s nomination.” (loc 121)
Shots of get-over-yourself-ness have been fired.
“I want to help Chuck Tingle win the Hugo Awards,” I finally blurt. (loc 137)
Me too, Buck. Me, too.
“What do you need me to do?”
“Get fucked up your butt by the Hugo Award nomination,” the barista responds. (loc 161)
Okay, I can’t match Tucks dedication to the cause.
Suddenly a muscular living object steps into the coffee shop, causing customers to flee in terror. It’s the rocket-shaped Hugo Award, and its name is Kelpo.
Tuck suggests they go out for dinner.
“It’s cute, I get it,” the barista says, “but we like to come in at four to five thousand words for these things. A date’s probably going to push us over the word count. (loc 184)
“Alright, just one date, but I’m only going to take like, two sentences to describe it, tops. After that you’ll each get a line of dialog and then it’s right to the fucking.” (loc 191)
In many ways that’s the perfect date.
I’m not surprised when we end up back at his place, which is a massive clear display case for large awards. (loc 196)
THAT SENTENCE ALONE SHOULD WIN A LARGE AWARD.
“You like what you see?” I question, wiggling my muscular rump playfully at my historic science fiction and fantasy award lover. (loc 224)
I have read a multitude of versions of that sentence, but this is my favourite yet.
There’s sex, and at the moment of orgasm Tuck has a vision:
I see a man who looks a lot like me, only slightly older and wearing a bright white Tai Kwon Do uniform. He’s writing in his bedroom, which looks remarkably like my own except there are posters of famous wrestlers and shirtless men all over the walls. (loc 254)
Chuck talks to Tuck, sounding just like his twitter feed, and basically tells him love is real. The Hugo voters, he admits, probably won’t think he’s a good writer; they’re likely to get hung up on the spelling errors.
Oh, my heart. I feel personally guilty.
But Chuck assures Tuck it doesn’t matter. He knows he’s a good writer and that love is real, and that’s all that matters.