Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

The Elopus and the Queen

by Rob - October 18th, 2016.
Filed under: Short Fiction.

In 2014, GISHWHES, the “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen,” had as an item: “Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus [half elephant, half octopus].”

My friend Shoshana Glick (after whom the character in my novel Wake is named) was the first of a great many people to ask me, and so I wrote this for her on my iPhone (and turned the others down):

Choosing Doctor Moreau as her Minister of Science had seemed like a good idea at the time. But Queen Misha was regretting it now. Not only was the chimera elopus he’d grafted together a frightening sight, but the beast’s nine appendages — being a woman of breeding, she refused to count the tenth — were, thanks to the infusion into each of a Cavorite extract, gravitationally bound to capital cities of Her Majesty’s various territorial possessions. And as each of those colonies declared independence, the corresponding extremity stretched and snapped off, sailing across the sky to the appropriate far-off land. The beast’s cries were horrifying, but Queen Misha’s own piteous wails were worse, she knew. Only Moreau, the monster who created monsters, found joy in this figurative and literal dismemberment.

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