A short initiation into the mystery cult of The CSS Code for TC.
Go to the darkest, dampest, mistiest, remotest corner of spacetime (presuming your spacetime has corners), the kind of slimy, rocky, rather unpleasant sort of spot where music always has really overdone reverb, a place that might be compared unfavorably to the deepest interior of a stale, moldy, maggoty chundermuffin, or perhaps even some speedos recently worn by Karl Rove. Ok, you there? Now look up and sort of leftish and you’ll see (if you have reeeaally good eyesight) a rather sparkly, wettish sort of planet a few hundred light-fortnights away.
Hmm, perhaps you could have skipped going to that rather dismal spot and gone directly to the watery planet, since after standing around in the muck staring into space I suspect you’ve strained your neck. And you’ve probably also been eaten by a grue. Oh well, these things happen. I’ll just presume that a passing nanobot swarm performs the Heimlich manouvre on the grue, or that the grue is bulimic or something, so that I can keep pretending there’s someone paying attention.
So anyway, you’ve made it to the watery planet? What do you mean how are you going to cross several hundred light-fortnights of less-than-well-heated vacuum to get there? Do I have to do everything?
You there yet? Hmm, looks like you made it and are still in one piece. Though that’s apparently more than can be said for the local spacetime topology after your trip.
Anyway, now that you’re here, you’ll notice all the big, tentacly things sloshing about in the pleasant, sparkly water. Yes, that includes the ones wearing rakish fedoras and the ones in fluffy neck ruffs. And yes, I know they don’t have necks, but that’s what they call them.
It’s true, they are looking at you kind of funny, aren’t they? I wasn’t going mention it, but I suspect it’s because, to be frank, you currently look like partially digested grue bait.
So, currently these squid are all confused as their entire bestseller list has been taken over by several different books called The CSS Code. Many of them buy the wrong one, and so they waste a lot of time trying to find someone to trade with. The situation has also led to the invention of a new sport involving flamethrowers and publishing executives, but there are several different versions of the rules, and most of their high-level diplomats are involved in trying to negotiate a set of rules that everyone can agree on in order to forestall several civil wars.
No, I don’t know what the different CSS Codes are all about. I don’t read squid! But here’s an internet café — we can use Babelfish.
Hmm, this one says CSS stands for Chocolate Salmon Soufflé. It appears to be a book of advice for up-and-coming businessdecapods that relies on strained culinary metaphors. Apparently it’s better if your business resembles a chocolate salmon soufflé than some kind of cashewy nut log. It appears the book is also a marketing gimmick for the author’s PowerPoint plug-ins. I agree, the market penetration of PowerPoint in the galaxy is distressing. No one has ever figured out how to get rid of it though. Grues won’t even touch it.
I should add that you haven’t lived until you’ve seen squid harvesting cacao.
Here’s another one: Copyeditor Super Spidersquid. Ooh, it’s got pictures. Let’s see, a squid’s parents get killed when the sun explodes after being bitten by a radioactive space spider. The little squid grows up to be a vigilante for truth, justice, and sane publishing practices. There’s some controversy about this one as it appears that the marketing people for it may have engineered the whole CSS Code problem in the first place.
The top seller appears to be about the Concealed Sacred Squid. But while everyone may be reading this one, it doesn’t look like the critics think much of it:
You could get better prose from a lagoon full of ammonites with typewriters!
It’s a novel, but it also claims to reveal a secret conspiracy that has existed for centuries to uphold the “ten legs good, eight legs bad” doctrine that squid and cuttlefish historically used to justify discrimination against octopuses. This apparently involves proof that the Sacred Squid revered by so many decapods was, in fact, a Vampiroteuthis, or in other words, that the founder of their religious doctrine was not a true decapod but rather had both octopod and decapod characters. This has been especially bothersome to those who hold to the Clever Construction thory, which holds that life — especially decapods — is so obviously complicated and marvelous that it must have been specially designed by a Clever Constructor, as one corollary usually attached to this theory is that there’s no way that decapods could be descended from mere ordinary cephalopods. Hmm, here’s a quote from something called the “Eureka Institute”:
How could anything as manifestly perfect as the decapod eye have come about by a random, unguided process? All you have to do is compare it to those vertebrate eyes with their hinky, inverted wiring to see the special place accorded to decapods by the Sacred Universal Constructor!
One common question asked by Clever Constructionists seems to be:
If squid evolved from nautilus, why are there still nautilus?
According to the author’s website, the Vampiroteuthis theory was originally put forward by something called the “PhyConO Strategy Group”, which is apparently some sort of PR wing for the phylogenetically confused organisms movement.
It looks like our time is up for this internet terminal. You did bring something to pay the usage fee, right? Right? Well, I’m sure you’ll figure something out. Excuse me, while I slip out through this reef over here…