The Red Tape War
Jack L Chalker, George Alec Effinger & Mike Resnick
v3.0-fixed broken paragraphs, garbled text, formatting; by peragwinn 2006-01-27
It all began back at the 1980 World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, at about four
o'clock in the morning.
Jack Chalker and I were sitting in the hotel lobby, talking about one thing or another, and
since he hadn't yet written twenty-odd best-sellers, and I hadn't yet written any best-sellers at all
or won any literary awards (all oversights that God put aright during the ensuing decade), and
publishers, while not avoiding us, still weren't beating a path to our doors, we thought that it
might be fun to collaborate on a book while we had some free time on our hands.
I don't remember now who suggested it, but before the evening was over we decided that it
would be even more fun to invite a third party and do a round-robin novel, one where each of us
tried to stick the next guy in line with a near-insoluble problem. It still sounded like a good idea
the next morning (mornings arrive at about 2:00 p.m. at conventions), so we decided to go ahead
and recruit a third partner.
The first writer we approached agreed immediately, then thought better of it and withdrew
from the project before nightfall. The second looked at us like we were crazy, explained that
relative unknowns such as ourselves could never hope to sell such a book, and semi-respectfully
declined. The third writer didn't know any better, and agreed.
As a show of good faith, I offered to write the opening chapter. (It also meant that everyone
else had to copy the style I chose, but nobody ever figured this out. Come to think of it, nobody
ever copied it, either.) As I recall, we flipped coins to determine the order for the rest of the book.
We got about halfway through the project in something less than six months, and then it
bogged down. The chapters our collaborator wrote didn't quite fill the bill, so we paid him off and
decided to find yet another part