22 Feb 2015: The old Mirrors of Eris (est. 2010) is closing. All content will be moved to the new site, and eventually the main page link to these pages will be removed.

Go to the launch page of the new version (2015).

Go to the main page of the old version (2010).

There's a world-destroying domination plot masterminded by Antarctican penguins --- "Why do our leaders wear suits of black and white? With tails? Can it really be just a coincidence?! Or are they quislings already dressed for the Occupation??!"



or, stuff for the kids!

* * *

Well, actually the only kid-like thing on this page is the constant, looming, threatening presence of penguins --- but hey, if it has animals in it, it's gotta be for kids, right?

Then again, consider the stuff that is supposed to be for kids. Say fairytales. And I don't mean the ur-tales where Snow White is awakened by something more, er, touching than just a kiss. Take a usual, bland, normal tale, and try to see it for the first time, with boundless curiosity and imagination, and no internal horror alarms at all. Bang! You are a princess. Your mother just died. Your new mother is a vain hag that decides to kill you because you are pretty.

Still enjoying this, girls? Lesson so far: don't be prettier than your mom-figure, or she might go crazy.

You're not killed, but cast out into the world instead --- ha ha, a happy thought! All your clothes, belongings, friends, all gone. Surely not something that might horrify a child that, on the third hearing, has the time to think about this detail. And then you're taken in by this gang of goons and made to do their housework. No need to think of any unfortunate implications, even; just this: remember, you could be a princess today, and tomorrow be washing floors and cooking food for a pack of dwarfs that are constantly pressing their attentions on you. (Seriously; do you think the one called Sneezy is someone that's a joy to be with? At least there's no Clappy among them...)

Meanwhile, the hunter that was supposed to kill you: he takes a deer's heart to the wicked queen instead. Not only is it an icky thought, the thought of that poor deer, but think of someone actually tearing off your clothes, cutting your chest open, prying the ribs apart, and with hands bloody to the elbows sawing off your still-warm heart! You think children have somewhat bad expectations when their parents remarry? ("Why, what a pretty young thing you are. And getting prettier every day!")

Oh, and this pseudomother you pissed off just being you? That kind of people will come back to kill you until you are dead! WITH POISON!

Still enjoying this, girls and boys?

And when you then bite the apple and fall down like you were dead --- what do the dear dwarves do to you then? Why, they put you in a coffin. Don't tell me a child won't be, after that sentence, thinking of a glass coffin lowered to a deep dark hole in the ground, and clumps of earth falling on it --- falling --- until the princess awakens in the darkness, and screams.

Things don't go quite that bad, but don't tell me children don't think like that. Children have a lot of imagination, and all horrors are so very fresh to them. That's the awful part of it: to adults certain thoughts are an old hat, not very scary: but a child might be considering being buried alive for the very first time. How nice if that happens through a bedtime story. ("Still awake? Do you want to hear one more story, Euphie?")

Then comes the prince, falls in love with the princess, and wakes her up, either by an accidental Heimlich, by a kiss, or some other way. (And the romantic one: Hey, here's this guy you've never seen before! He's gonna kiss you while you sleep! Not creepy! Because you're gonna love him! Because if you don't, it's super creepy and awful!) One wonders what a child would think the prince would do if the princess wasn't as smitten with him as he was with her. Maybe he'd be graceful and just go. Maybe she'd return to cleaning the dwarfs' domicile! Maybe, given the psychotic nature of the royalty so far, he'd lop her head off, or have her buried for real!

Then, if you follow the brothers Grimm version, the couple do like each other and do get married --- and what's the entertainment at their feast? The wicked old queen, dancing with red-hot iron shoes until she falls down dead! Hello, my prince dear, are you sure you're being this psychotic just because she mistreated me? Because if this is how you roll all the time, I want out! (Alternately: the person that you really, really want to marry will fall in love with you at first sight, and will torture elderly women to death if you but ask for it. Ready, steady, go find a true love!)

Oh, and here's one more bit of horror: in the very first Grimm brothers version of the tale, there's no wicked stepmother. The villain is Snow White's very own biological mother. Good thinking, that: someone making up a story where a girl's in mortal danger for the creeping, accidental sin of being prettier than her mother. Really makes a girl confident, that one. (Oh, and the queen neurotically demanding of the mirror, again and again, the identity of the most beautiful in the whole wide world: how can I just imagine a girl at her mother's feet, both watching television, while the girl dreads the seemingly inevitable moment when Oprah turns to them and screams: "THAT GIRL THERE! SHE'S PRETTIER THAN YOU! KILL HER!")

And... kids can analyze every single tale they hear like this. Especially when it's dark. Especially when they are alone. It doesn't matter if it's Winnie the Pooh, or Spongebob Squarepants --- kids can find the screaming, pants-wetting horror in everything. It is useless to try to find something so bland and tame that they won't be terrified to death. A part of being a child is seeing everything for the first time; and a lot of things are, when first seen, quite scary.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Childhood is four parts of wonder, and five parts of trauma; and that's the normal, safe ones.

And now some penguins.

* * *

If I was a supervillain, my special power would be disguising nuclear doomsday missiles as Antarctic penguins.

Imagine that.

A herd (a flock?) of penguins tottering on ice. Suddenly, one of them blinks, and its eyes glow bright electric red. Stiffly it raises its wings, and they freeze into position like some rocket's fins. And then the penguin shoots into the sky, carried up by a horrendous gout of chemical flame from its backside.

The sooty flock looks around, puzzled and a bit ruffled, and one caws.

And meanwhile, in a plane high above, the Sidekick screams: "Captain! Incoming! A penguin at three o'clock!"

"Evasive action!"

* * *

A snow-covered ridge of ice. Some penguins are walking around, looking like the Gentleman Butlers' Walking School on a winter outing. In the valley below, some more strut and preen.

Suddenly there is a light from the valley. One can, just for a moment, see one of the penguins there turn into an incadescent point of painful brilliance, and then a flash of light melts the ice and snow, and turns the penguins into clouds of ash.

Some kilometers away, a single penguin is pecking on a wall of ice, wondering whether the wall'd move if annoyed some more. A sudden sound makes the penguin turn --- a faint rushing of wind. Turning around, it sees a wall of ash, dust and superheated air rushing towards it. There is just time for a very surprised "Caw?" before the pressure front comes.

A pair of parka-clad and scarf-covered scientists, standing on a sheet of ice at the cold ocean's edge, are quite concerned. One asks the other where all the penguins went. The other can only repeat what they both saw: Suddenly the animals froze, glanced at the hills, and scrambled to the sea, diving underwater.

"As if they had escaped something", the first scientist muses.

"Bhah!" the second mutters. "Tain't nothing I know that'd faze a pengwin."

By this time the first one has looked up and is pointing, slack-jawed, at the mushroom cloud and the onrushing wall of snow and deadly needles of ice.

"Well, like the Frenchies say, bugre moi."

* * *

To quote Erisiana:

And on the floater, a penguin with a monocle and a sneer is saying: ''Remember, troops: The Australians are a wily bunch. Don't get snookered by the drop bear line; just go straight for the stomach, then head for the zoo gate. Don't get all sentimental because they're humans; they're vicious gun's-sons, they. Don't forget getting our king back is why we started this iceberg endeavor, and it's what we're gonna do.''

''Hey, how we're gonna get back, boss?'' a junior penguin squawks. The terror of being stranded in Sydney is plain in his eyes, though the antarctic-white balaclava hides his expression.

The leader frowns, or makes the equivalent penguinine expression, and waves a wing dismissively. ''Sydney Air Force base. We break in and steal a few Aardvark strike fighters. Why do you think we waited half a year and had Flapper and Coldbeak sent to Russia for pilot training? Speed is of essence, and you don't want to try to outfly a Hornet on your own, chick my boy! Now, we have a mole inside the zoo that says ---''

(Next the spy report will be interrupted by Smock, the electronics expert penguin, who's detected the NASA satellites following them; a fierce debate on ''They wouldn't nuke us from the orbit, would they? They would! Let's swim for it!'' follows, resolved only when Monocle St. John Ross-Shelf, the expedition leader, decapitates the craven coward Happyfoot in ritual single combat. Some ninety action-filled pages later this leads to young, heroic, and tragically inexperienced Calve Glaciersson piloting one of the escape planes; his mistake sends it into a dive that takes out the Australian parliament and triggers a full-scale nuclear confrontation and conflagration between the nations of penguin and man.)

And then some people say writing books for kids is difficult! For more fun, how about my soon-award-winning series of books for the chilluns, the lil' uns, the rug rats, the skin trophies, the KIDS:
  • "These objects are not for you" #3 : The Chain Saw
  • The Littlest Atheist's Guidebook to the Oblivion Where Grandma Is Now
  • The Boiling Kettle of Your Head: A Catholic Account of Sin and Hell for Kids Aged 6--12
  • Toilet Training With Mr. Wiener!
  • Bullies: Let's Imagine What Could Happen To Them!
  • How Things Work: Gerrymandering
  • Tourette Jimmy and the Adventure of the Shitpissfuckfuck Deep Mountain
  • My Friend Zorg: Bobby and Daisy Befriend A Grey!
  • "I'm No Snitch!" : Or How Bobby Learned Your Brother's More Important Than Some Silly Law!
  • Life Really Begins At Conception: A Kid's Picture Book of Real Tiny Babies!
  • The Three Detectives and the Grim Legal Consequences of Vigilantism
  • Jimmy Discovers Adults Can Be Clueless Too!
  • Yes, Virginia, Some People Fail In Life
  • Sex Ed for the Blind
  • When You Grow Up You Change: Scratch'n'Sniff Edition
  • The Three Detectives and the Secret of the Pedophile Hut
  • Two Boys, One Dog, No Food, On A Boat: A Hungry Tale!

Oh, and... two of the books above are more or less actual real books. I can't recall the exact titles, though.

* * *

The New Penguin History of the World is a book title liable to really confuse people who don't know the names of publishers.

"And after the collapse of the Pnaakian Empire, the Antarctic was ruled by roving warbands of the worst sort, and the beaks of the wise were sorely dulled and the sleek silver fish were an easy catch no more. Even the art of thermonuclear combustion was lost. Then there came news of a terrible new rising force from the interior of the continent: the Inland Penguins of nightmare and grim legend, now bold and hungry for the produce of the World-Sea, and no longer held in check by fear of the Golden Sword and the Bronze Flippers of Pnaak the Great or her inferior children. Their coat was black all over, save the red Star of Destruction on the chest of each; and their arms were long, sharp, jagged and thirsty for Shorelander blood. Their leader was called Tegelili. Thus began the Age of Sorrow (1650--1630 BCE)."

"Study Question 1: Discuss the phallic symbolism inherent in the Golden Sword. Did it contribute to the violence inherent in the system of the Pnaakian Empire? How about the repression? Who was seen as being repressed? Refer to the Dennis case if at all possible."

* * *

The New Penguin History of the World


  1. The Prehistory of the Antarctic (to 3500 BCE)
    1. "No Place So Hospitable": Geology and Climatology
    2. "Fish! Fish Everywhere!": Biology of the Feed Animals and the Plants
    3. "Flipper Traces": From the Pole, the Actors of This Vast Play Come
  2. The Period of the Mythical Emperors (3500–2352 BCE)
    1. Emperors Krill, Aqua and Squidface: The Alien Faces of Terror
    2. Emperors Crossvallia, Anthropornis and Icadyptes: The Giants of Legend
    3. Emperors Eretiscus and Constantinus Palaeospheniscus: Road Builders Lost To Time, On the Edge of History
  3. Waimanu: the Invention of Writing, and the Dawn of History (2352–2321 BCE)
    1. Waimanu's War Against the Star Born
    2. War Against the Star Born Critically Examined: the Clash of Primeval Kingdoms, and the Victory of the Yellow Snow Gang
    3. From the Yellow Clan to the Shorelanders: the Evolution of the Early Penguinic Polity
  4. Division and Reinvention: the Time of the Ten Thousand Chieftains (2321–2177 BCE)
    1. Silver Fish Allwhere: Population Explosion Leads to Breakdown of Clan Systems
    2. The Dares: Sea Exploration During the Chieftain Period
    3. the Rise of War Lordism: Too Many Chicks, Too Little Space
  5. "Our Beaks Demand Blood!": The Warfare of the Early Predynastic Period (2177–2101 BCE)
    1. Mesta Urga: From A Steward to the Lord of the New Council: And the Peace of the Council
    2. The Dares and Their Returns: Sea Exploration During the Early Predynastic Period, and the Discovery of the New Zealand Land Bridge
    3. The Whirlpool of Hatred: Mesta Urga's Legacy of Division Takes the Heartland
  6. The Late Predynastic Period: the Time of the Starlings (2101–1869 BCE)
    1. "A Fish In Every Beak": the Starling Movement and the Fall of the Predynastic Polities of the Shoreland
    2. The Grand Unification: The Terror Mountain Tunnel and the Joining of the Shorelanders and the Red Stars
    3. The Domination of the Unwilling: The Tyranny of the Late "Star of Destruction" Monarchs
  7. The Life of Pnaak the Great (1869–1809 BCE)
    1. Longbeak: From Among the War Lords, One Comes Forth
    2. Whitehead: The War Lord Mounts the Star of Destruction
    3. Emperor Penguin: Pnaak I Rules the Antarctic
  8. The Rise and Heyday of the Pnaakian Empire (1809–1701 BCE)
    1. Pnaak II and the Three-Rulers-System
    2. Agricultural Reforms During Pnaaks III and IV
    3. The Defiance of Peen'peen
  9. The Empire's Collapse (1700–1650 BCE)
    1. The Wizard Sphenischi At Court: Pnaak VII and the Dilemma of His Brothers
    2. The Wizard Sphenischi At Large: Pnaak VIII, the Last of the Pnaaks, and the Theft of the Golden Sword by the All-Black
    3. The Wizard Sphenischi Devoured By His Own Power: The Half-Pnaak Resurrection, the Great March of General Apteno, and the Disaster of the Battle of Scotia
  10. The Age of Sorrow (1650–1630 BCE)
    1. The Old Threat Awakens: The War Lord Tegelili and the Star of Destruction Re-Coated
    2. Tegelili At the Shore: the Alliance of the Shorelanders Is Broken
    3. Tegelili Betrayed: the Star of Destruction Loyalists Versus the Tegelili Imperials
    4. A Huge Muddle: The Events At Pnaak Hall Before the Thermonuclear Device Is Detonated
  11. After the Holocaust, A New Hero... And A Hero's Fall (1630–1610 BCE)
  12. The Tyranny of Apnak the Slayer (1610–1402 BCE)
    1. Humiliation: General Apteno Swears Fealty to Apnak
    2. Ascension: Aim the Throne, Ascender the Greycoat
    3. Fish: the Produce of the World-Sea Is Divided to the Clanswives
    4. Beakbreaking: Apnak Against the Gods Themselves
  13. Preachers, Teachers and Fish Thieves: The Small Kingdoms After Apnak (1402–930 BCE)
    1. Theology or Action: The Debates At P'naak-P'naak and the Future of the Idea of an Empire
    2. The Traders' Union Rises
    3. Lucidly Coalescing Hegemonies
  14. Blood, Blood and More Blood: Outside the Small Kingdoms, After Apnak (1402–930 BCE)
    1. "Who Do You Call?": The Demands for Bodily and Provincial Automony Lead To the Cessation of War Lordism
    2. The Traders' War
  15. "We've Been Beaked In The Back!": The Acrimonies After the Traders' War, and the Resurgence of the Anti-Auk Pogroms (930–611 BCE)
    1. The Downfall of the Caste Society, and the Parliament of the Unbeaked
    2. "Fowl Play": The Failure of the First Parliament and the Tyranny of the Neopaleopygoscelians
    3. "Kindly Tyrants" Or Just Nepotists? Reality and Propaganda During the Reign of the "Little Blue Penguins"
  16. Bear My Burdens: The Debate Over Feed Animals in the Quiet Empire (611–32 BCE)
    1. "Enough Ice For All Of Us": The Enactment and Abolition of the Bear Enslavement Acts
    2. "Resolution Auk-nowledged": How Slavery Ends, and the Empire Dissolves: Very Quietly
    3. "Unbearable!": The Penguin Rights Act of 32 BCE In Context
  17. "How Long Is Your Beak?": The Pygoscelian Supremacists of the Southern Ring Versus the Gentoo Monarchy (32 BCE–411 CE)
    1. The Star of Destruction Scare of 22 BCE: The Last Hurrah of the Inland Empire, and the Impotence of the Quiet Empire
    2. "Fight Or Die!": The "Magellanic" and "Humboldt" Factions In Post-Imperial Politics, and the Rise of Pygosceles I
    3. The Pygoscelene Emperors Versus The World
    4. The Pygoscelene Emperors, Three Against Four: The P'p'naak Crisis of 121–129 CE
    5. The Well-Dressed Majority Reacts: The Gentooine Rebellion Against Meneks III, and the "Beak That Builds Itself"
    6. The triumph of the Gentooines, and the Enthronement of Leenus I: "Won't Be A Big Thing" Begins A Thosand Year Empire
  18. The Thousand Year Empire: Within (411–1511 CE)
    1. The Lenite Emperors: Stability, Uniformity, Order --- None Of Those Actually
    2. The Ubinite Emperors: the Aptenodytes Take the Throne
    3. The Eudyptulan Emperors: "It All Began So Well, But the Heirs Were Ever Littler, Children!"
  19. The Thousand Year Empire: Without (411–1511 CE)
    1. The Sacred Crest of Defiance: the Fiordland Republic And Its Seven Wars
    2. The Pachyrhynch: The Slow Solutions To the Terror Mountain Barrier Problem
    3. The Flipperfall Accords: The Last of the Outsiders Come In From The Cold
  20. Eudypthula IX: A Study In Failure (1511–1534 CE)
    1. "Let Them Eat Krill": Ruler Of All, Dominator Of Nothing
    2. "Threatened Species!": The Downfall of the Long Empire
  21. Searches For Identities (1534–1619 CE)
    1. The Inland Empire --- A Magnificent Lost Cause
    2. The Two Great Ice Shelves, and the Shelfless
    3. "We Squawk, Don't We?": The Antarctic Convergence
  22. An Ice Shelf, Slowly Cracking: The Decay of the Yellow Ice Harmony (1619–1800 CE)
    1. The Kerguelen Crisis of 1619 CE: A Portent Of Worse Things To Come
    2. "Whose Kind Of Peace?": A Flowering of the Arts, A Wilting of the Public Will
    3. Squawk-p'pt: The Very Last War Lord, Against the Very Last Empire
    4. First On The Ice? The Long View of Indirect China-Antarctic Relations
  23. The "Dutch" Wars, and the Loss of the Sleek Coast (1800–1850 CE)
    1. The Beakination Force: The End of the Antarctic? The Realization of Prophecies, and the Fears of an Imminent Parousia
    2. "Not As Furry As Foretold": Humans and Penguins Meet for the First Time; Neither Party Is Impressed
    3. "They're Killing Us For Food!": The Barbarism of the Dutch, and the Decision To Not Exterminate Humankind
    4. What If? Or, Just How Close Was Humankind To Total Extirpation During the Dutch Crisis?
  24. The Human-Penguin Coöperation Treaty of 1869 Is Brokered... And Broken (1850–1901 CE)
    1. Mercator Cooper: Hero of the Antarctic, Or A Shifty-Eyed Betrayer of the Flipperfolk?
    2. Pyrrhus Concer: First Plentipotentiary Ambassador to the Antarctic
    3. True Emissaries, False Rulers: Internecine Betrayal, and the Failure of the Pyrrhian Promise
  25. New Allies, and New Wars (1901–1953 CE)
    1. "We Will Never Involve Ourselves In Your Wars...": Three Beaks Concer and the Policy of Antarctic Isolationism
    2. "The Beak and the Moustache": Antarctic Joins the Axis
    3. The Great Auk Rebellion: How The Invasion of Australia Was Thwarted By Internal Dissent; Also How The Auks Got the Bowl With A Hole Of Choosing
    4. "Ross Shelf Next?": The Antarctic in the Tehran Accords; and the Secret Addendum to the Roosevelt-Stalin Agreement
      1. A footnote on mythology: And The Sea Will Tell: The Many Deaths of Adolf Hitler
      2. A footnote on history: Operations Paperclip: The Deaths, and Lives, of All the Rest
    5. Exiles In A Cold Land: The Coup of the Bormann-P'blaak Duumvirate, the Threat of A Cold War, and the Restoration of Premier Shardbeak
  26. The Antarctic Treaty, and the Seclusion (1953 CE –       )
    1. The Remnant on the Brink of Armageddon: the New York Negotiations of 1953
    2. The Treaty: "This One Is For The Ages!" --- And The Truth: "Do Not Prosecute, Do Not Search"
    3. Downwards Into Irrelevance, and Other Meanings of DII: The Long Descent Into the 1970s Energy Crisis
    4. A War On Ice: The Cold War's Last Battleground: Antarctica 1994
    5. Afterwards: The Grim March of Premiers, and A Promise of Emperors
  27. Epilogue: Sleeping Within the Ice
  28. Answers to the Trickier Study Questions
  29. Index
  30. About the Authors
  31. Endorsements of "The New Penguin History of the World"

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last updated: (Nov 30 2011)