Sep 30

No more beer for Yancy. He's moving the wrong pieces now...Click for full image

Ashton Comments: This accurately depicts the eponymous story, except I don’t recall the protagonist being described as the smuggest douche in the universe in an equally terrible shirt.
Published 1987

Many thanks to Ashton!

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 7.93 out of 10)

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22 Responses to “Unicorn Variations”

  1. cutmanmike Says:

    So is this book just about this guy trying to beat various unicorns at chess? Also I can only see one, where’s the other unicorns?

  2. Repton Says:

    It’s a collection of short stories, one of which is about a guy playing a unicorn at chess.

    As I recall, the background is something like this:

    Person A: Hey, I’m putting together a collection of stories about unicorns. Do you have any?
    Zelazny: Hmm…
    Person B: Hey, I’m putting together a collection of stories about chess games. Do you have any?
    Zelazny: Ahh…
    Person C: Hey, I’m putting together a collection of stories set in bars. Do you have any?
    Zelazny: Well…
    Person D: So, how’s life?
    Zelazny: I’ve got three requests for short stories!
    Person D: Why not write a story about a unicorn, playing a chess game, set in a bar? Then you can sell it to everyone!

  3. SI Says:

    This is amazing. Yet it fills my head with so many questions it wants to explode.

    Why are trolls drinking lager? Do monsters smoke? How the heck is that unicorn sitting?


  4. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “How the heck is that unicorn sitting? ”
    – I have NO idea. Through a hole in the floor?

    And that guy is such an insufferable smug bastard, the locals are of course going to drag him out into the alley, beat him up and take his money…
    …unless, of course, he loses the game:

    Man: “Ha! I win!”
    Unicorn: “Ha yourself! My rook takes your knight!”
    Man: “Uh…”
    [Bar crowd roars with laughter]

  5. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Someone is drinking a pint through a plastic straw. I’m thinking it’s the unicorn, since the drink’s at his/her/its/whatever’s elbow AND a pint glass is hard to lift with a hoof.

    Also, the perspective seems a little off. As though the chessboard were floating above the table, and the table were supported by Pink Shirt’s right knee.

  6. Herm Says:

    All Zelazny’s protags that I’ve read have been smug douches*. YMMV.

    * the narrator of Night in the Lonesome October was not, but the actual protagonist seen through his eyes definitely was.

    (Unrelatedly: @#2: Repton! I remember that!)

  7. ashton Says:

    You make a good point. And all his protagonists share hobbies and interests with Zelazny himself. Hmmm…..

    Actually I really like Corwin of Amber. But I really like everything about Amber.

  8. Michael L Says:

    That creature on the lower right seems to be drinking from the glass wrapped around his *lower* rather than his *upper* lip/beak. Won’t the beer end up all over the front of his chest?

  9. Adam Roberts Says:

    You lot are only making fun of the unicorn because he’s black. RACISTS!

  10. NGpm Says:

    For being such a smarmy looking so-and-so the guy has a really lame looking shirt on.

    What’s up with the towel over the unicorn’s shoulder? Is he the barkeep and that’s for “cleaning” the glasses? If so how does he do that with hooves?

    Maybe he’s just keeping it there so he can surrender ….

    The whole thing makes my head hurt.

  11. Some Mythical Creature Says:

    By a happy coincidence, I read this short story about a month ago and still remember it quite fondly. It is indeed about a unicorn playing chess in a bar, and trust me that it makes sense in context.

    And I am curious as heck as to *what* story the illustrator who painted this read. (The guys on the stools could be the sasquatches… I… guess… But those things with the orange snouts can’t possibly be meant to be the gryphons, can they? Does the artist even know what a gryphon is?)

  12. weaver Says:

    Everybody in 1987 looked like that. And I’m referring to the smugness not just the shirt.

  13. GK Says:

    One town’s very like another when your head’s down over your pieces, brother.

  14. Stevie T Says:

    @GK: don’t you know that when you Play at this level there’s no ordinary venue

  15. Jon Says:

    As bad as the cover is, it does accurately reflect actions that occur in the story – a human playing a unicorn (with a glossy black hide) in a chess game for the fate of the Earth, which the unicorn says is being retaken by fantasy creatures because humans are destroying the planet.

    Add in the fact that human and unicorn meet in an abandoned saloon in a ghost town in the southwestern USA and that said unicorn wants the saloon more lively (causing the human to bring in a player piano, fix up the saloon, bring in beer on tap, etc.), and the story just writes itself. 😉

    P.S. – I read the short story “Unicorn Variation” in this compilation –

  16. anon Says:

    Pimp train bicker feast!
    new collection by a major douche of the Irate Lamar MacBeth series
    Gyrone Razzle
    huge winner and a ward of the Bulanos

  17. B. Chiclitz Says:

    This deserves a “Smirky McSmug” tag, not only for the clueless human, but for the self-pleasuring brown gnome in the right side background.

  18. GSS noob Says:

    For once the SFBC version is less hideous.

  19. JuanPaul Says:

    That is clearly Martin Skrelli. Easily the smuggest douche to ever walk the earth

  20. JJyoyo Says:

    Why is Douche McDouchey touching the unicorm’s piece? Why does the game look more like a game of checkers? Why is Douche McDouchey so pleased that he (apparently) can beat a…. Horse? So many questions….You, sir, are not a grandmaster.

  21. Bruce A Munro Says:

    @JJyoyo: if you look at the very largest magnification image (click and click again) he seems to have just taken the Unicorn’s pawn with a bishop. And beating a Magical Unicorn (TM) is definitely higher tier than beating a horse. If a manticore beat you at Go, I doubt you’d appreciate other mythical creatures dismissing it as the defeat of a monkey.

    How the unicorn fits in that chair remains utterly baffling.

  22. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @JJYoyo; Douchey McSmug is 99.9% less of an asshole in the actual story.

    The Unicorn! is super-extra magical and also brilliant, so beating the guy at chess is pretty easy. Sasquatches are also great at chess.

    Also, the Unicorn! is magical, so it can sit in the chair if it damn well wants to. Don’t think it did in the story, though.

    Perhaps perspective was not the strong suit of this family of artists.

    I miss @anon.

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