Friday, December 12, 2008

The Friday Challenge: 12/12/08

Just in time to celebrate Turkmenistan Neutrality Day, the Friday Challenge returns from a somewhat longer than planned holiday break and gets back to work. For, while much as I admire the accomplishments of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, there is a backlog that has piled up, and —

And I can't keep a straight face any longer. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow! That's almost as good as my personal hero, Dr. Wubbo Ockels.

This is what makes it so hard to write fiction. Write a name like this into a novel, and some editor in New York is sure to say, "You must be kidding. Change it."


Right. Getting back to the 11/21/08 Friday Challenge, the contestants are:

Jamsco - "Giving Thanks"

Kremben - untitled

Waterboy - "It Ain't Me"

Passinthrough - "Charlie"

Snowdog - "A Thanksgiving Carol"

Rainwrites - "Thanksgiving"

Rain, who blogs at Rain Writes, is a newcomer who's arrived here by way of an interview with Theo Beale on Where the Map Ends, a site of which I was completely unaware until Rain mentioned it. Therefore, while some of you may be tempted to proclaim her Queen of the Snowdogs for submitting an entry five days after the deadline, I'll ask you to go easy on her. This time.

Oh, and someone explain "snowdogging" to her, would you?

Anyway, those are our contestants this week. As always, I invite you to read, comment on, and vote for your favorites, and the winner will be announced Sunday evening.

Now, as for this week's Friday Challenge: while I have a lot of interesting ideas in the queue, I'm going to have to go with this one, which is, as they say, ripped from the headlines. Watching the pie-fight this week over the proposed General Motors bailout — which, honestly, amounts to a nationalization of the automobile manufacturing industry that any Third World tinpot dictatorship would be proud to claim — as the past and current owner of many fine (koff! koff!) British Leyland automobiles, I can't help but think, "Well, that's always worked before." And then my mind drifted back even further, to the founding history of Volkswagen, which if you're not familiar with it, provides both fascinating reading and even more disturbing parallels, and from that input, sprang this idea:
It's 20 or so years in the future. The government takeover of the auto industry has long since been complete, and you are now the proud driver of a brand new Cadillac "Euphoria," which is the penultimate product of 20 years of Congressionally-mandated design initiatives. (In the future, all cars are Cadillacs. That way no one has to suffer from the stigma of being seen driving a Chevy.) It's an advanced-technology hybrid that runs on soybean biodiesel and recycled deep-fryer grease and gets ten miles on a single McDonald's Happy Meal, and it comes complete with a dashboard breathalyzer (required to unlock the steering wheel), no ashtray, an automatic endangered-species warning and collision avoidance system, and the incredibly intrusive OnStar*2, which combines audio and video surveillance and can't be turned off. You don't actually own this car; you're merely leasing it from the government, as everyone does, and its most interesting feature is GPSX, which not only tells you your location, it also constantly reports your location, speed, and direction to the appropriate government agencies...

That's all I've got for now. Now it's your turn to put on your tinfoil hats, turn your paranoia dials up to maximum, and tell us all a little bit about what it's like to live and move about in the Car of Your Nightmares Dreams.

As always, we're playing by the so-called rules of the Friday Challenge, and playing for whatever is behind Door #2. The finish line for this challenge is midnight, Thursday, December 18

Happy Motoring!