Sunday, July 3, 2011

Expansion Joints Challenge, part 18: Free

When this exercise was hosted over at Porky's Expanse!, he always chose the word for the Expanders! challenge based on some relevant happening or theme. This coming week sees Independence Day, July 4th, in the US. The week before this one saw the passing of Martin H. Greenberg, a prolific anthologist with a special interest in the theme of liberty in science fiction. This week saw a controversial US Supreme Court decision concerning freedom of speech, in which the court took the remarkable position that public financing of elections unduly restricted the "free speech rights" of the wealthy to buy them. In addition, this week marks the halfway point between the 45th anniversaries of what are, from my perspective, by far the two most important events of 1966 - the publication of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, origin of the expression TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), and my birth, the anniversary of which always garners me lots of free stuff, in direct contradiction to the preceding precept. As it happens, July 4th this year also marks exactly 65 years before the official declaration of Lunar Independence described in Heinlein's classic. With all this coming relatively hot on the heels of Free RPG Day, could the word of the week be anything other than "free"?

If you aren't familiar with the Expansion Joints project, it all began over at Porky's Expanse!.

The rules are just as they are described over at Porky's: as much narrative as you can cram into fifteen words, one of which must be the word of the week.

This can take the form of

1. An epyllion,or litle epic, a stand-alone fifteen-word narrative, or

2. An epos, or 'epic'. Instead of an independent 15-word story, you can choose to develop someone else's story from a previous week, or extend your own story from week to week. Just write the next installment. If it has 15 words, uses the word of the week, and continues the story, you've done it.

There are two important things to think about if you choose epos. First, you should have the permission of the person who wrote the story you will develop. If anyone writes a 15-word epyllion or adds to an epos and is happy for others to develop it later, please say so, with something like 'for use in an epos'. Second, by using specific elements of someone else's story, we technically create a derivative work, so it's best to avoid this.

There are a number of generous contributors who have given express permission to use some of their writing as the basis for epos:

Porky, the founder of the project, offers up all of his contributions.

GDMNW has opened up the three stories here.

Dave G_Nplusplus makes any of his Expanders! stories available for use in an epos.

Arlequin has an epos running on his Expanders! page, and he has graciously extended permission to play with any or all of the contributions there.

Andy, over at The Creepy Corridor, has also made his epos posts available for expansion.

And, as always, feel free to use any of the stories on this blog that are tagged as "Expansion Joints" in an epos.

Words that have previously made an appearance in an Expanders!/Expansion Joints include: food, fort, stuff, elf, rogue, pass, fool, hammer, note, temper, table, twisted, missing, sacrifice, spirit, rush, tie, and line, in case you are of an historical bent, or wish to write a complete set.

When you've finished writing your entry for this week, either post your 15-word story directly in the comments here, or leave a link in the comments to the blog page where we can find it.


  1. "If you succeed, you will never be free Azariah. Where will you go then?"

    "I will still be free to ensure traitors like youself meet their well deserved ends."

    "Cut these chains, hand me a weapon. We will see just how 'free' you are."

  2. @ Captain Kellen - Blimey. Three puts to shame those of us who struggle with one..! Very creative, and the message I'm reading in it has a lot of power. What good do those chains ultimately do?

    Even with my one I'm late again. I found it difficult this time too. The weekly intros on choice add a lot of gravity, make the whole thing more personal, and a word with the resonance of 'free' has me wanting to do it extra justice.

    Anyway, it's here, and with a wonderful bonus - or maybe a better reason for reading - an excellent narrative from Laughing Ferret. We could all well be on more or less the same page.

  3. Porky - For a moment I would like to thank you for the kind words. I have to say though, maybe you are overthinking the expansions.

    I look at the expansions more as a 'diversion' then some sort of excersize. They are themed to a story about a small boy who grow up to be a space marine, a Dark Angels Interrogator Chaplain, and one of the 'Fallen' who may or may not be damned. When I can't fit the 'theme' into my story... I try to make it humorous for us all!

    thanks again,


  4. Apologies folks... I didn't pick up on this for some reason until today.

    This had the potential to become a disaster, attitudes and free-fire zones don't mix.

    @Porky - Very good... I might have gone for 'caskets close' myself.

    I'm tempted to agree with CK too, you often find meaning in stuff that I wasn't aware I'd put in. I'm not criticising deeper thinking though and it does give me pause for thought on what I've written.

    @CK - Three eh? Show off!! lol They are all very worthy though. 1&3 are my favourites... with 1 leading slightly... a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't sort of choice' is what I'm feeling here.

  5. @CK:

    I beat your record, and did four, all connected (And tied to my most recent Flash Fearsday).
    Free? Of course joining didn't cost. Just looking at their paisley skin made you sick.
    Still, since he'd gotten free of his debt he hadn't been able to eat well.
    Of course, if he did join, remember: There's no such thing as a free lunch.
    He walked in. When you wore the sign "Free to good home", you weren't picky.
    And my Flash Fearsday is here:

  6. C'Nor - Bravo! Bravo! I bow to a superior intellect!

    I'll be in the corner... licking my wounds... :P


  7. There may not be many of us, but dang it we're good!