It was a dark and stormy tinder box…

by Mark on 6/27/2010 · 24 comments

Hello everyone and welcome to the first annual “Silk Road Bad Writing Contest” inspired by the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest .

Have some pent up ruminations on the the rosy fingered dawn spreading over the interminal steppe? Sagacious warnings of “blow back” from Dick Cheney’s fishing trip on the Syr Daryo? Or would you simply like to wax philosophical about the intrinsic savagery of Turkic peoples? All  subjects are welcome. Please contribute a sample of your WORST attempt at writing on CA that you can muster. This blog has pointed out many fine examples in the past to draw inspiration from, but please make sure it is an original composition.

Please leave your contribution in the comment sections. 250 word maximum. Winner will be rewarded handsomely. Good luck

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Andrew June 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Since the dawn of time the crossroads of the Silk road have intersected in the vast geographic fortress known as Central Asia. This mysterious land has produced sages, generals, traders, and defeats. The promise of vast mineral wealth is once again drawing both established and nascent powers into the Great Game, the dynamic of move and counter-move that has defined Central Asian Geopolitics since time immemorial. The stakes are high, but the prize is the key to Asia. A well-known fact of oriental legend holds that no one has ever won a battle in Central Asia….

Robert D Kaplan June 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Could these be pre-Byzantine Turks?

Nathan Hamm June 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Depends on how they eat their soup.

Christian June 27, 2010 at 11:41 pm

But seriously this time…

The simmering tinderbox of capitalist manufactured ethnic hatred spilled across the arbitrary borders that were so perniciously drawn by Stalin himself in one of his many Machiavellian masterstrokes. America, having thrust its military in all of its phallocentric might deep into the heart of darkest Asia, surely wished to escape this dirty, sordid affair — shorts on backwards and the victim laying dead on flea-ridden sheets — with its name intact. But alas the Bush regime, like a genocidal European gold miner in the New World, had staked a claim at the strategic crossroads of ancient civilizations, where once Avicenna had lectured the Greeks and peaceful Sufis twirled in ecstasy. And now, the cowardly African lion in the White House, his lies having been spread to the imbecilic voters of a dying empire, fiddled while Osh burnt. Yet just to the north, across majestic peaks and verdant valleys tended by peaceful communal high-cheekboned herders and their endless flocks lay the machine in its hunting posture. Bristling with billion dollar weapons systems and local sex slaves waits the industro-military tool of emperium: Manas. With one eye fixed in predatorial stare at its Chinese and Russian rivals, and the other on the endless bounty of natural resources of Central Asia, the Yankee murder machine set its fat belly upon Mackinder’s heartland, from which it would control Eurasia.

Prithvi June 28, 2010 at 1:25 am

The Yankee murder machine sounds like a cross eyed biatch.

Prithvi June 28, 2010 at 1:27 am

But alas the Bush regime, like a genocidal European gold miner in the New World, had staked a claim at the strategic crossroads of ancient civilizations, where once Avicenna had lectured the Greeks and peaceful Sufis twirled in ecstasy. And now, the cowardly African lion in the White House, his lies having been spread to the imbecilic voters of a dying empire, fiddled while Osh burnt.

Reading this is like stuffing my face with cherry pie, it’s so good.

Prithvi June 28, 2010 at 1:21 am

As far back as earliest epochs of history, the great sedentary civilizations nutured by rivers in China, India, and the Middle East existed in perpetual terror of the nomads of Central Asia. Incomprehensible to the sedentary farmers and townsdwellers of antiquity, the Huns, Alans, Turks, Mongols, and other steppe barbarians have submerged the heartlands of civilization in great waves throughout the pages of time.
Once again, this region threatens the stability of the world with conflagration. The inhabitants of the “Stans” may have a veneer of modernity now, but the blood of their warrior ancestors still courses in their veins, exciting them to conquest, plunder, and fornication with the women of their enemies. As recently as the Second World War, these people manned the ranks of the Red Army and under Stalin’s direction, smashed their way into the great capitals of Eastern and Central Europe. The Americans, like so many ill fated empires before them, venture into the mysterious bowels of Inner Asia…at their own peril!

If you decide to sink American blood and treasure into the exotic journey of the senses that is Central Asia, turn to page 12
If you decided to hastily withdraw and leave these squabbling tribes and their incomprehensible troubles to their own devices, turn to page 17

Christian June 28, 2010 at 3:13 am

If only Central Asia was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book…

Fnord June 30, 2010 at 4:31 am

Lol. Thats an excellent idea for a speculative history…

Turgai June 28, 2010 at 3:29 am

😀 Oh man. Thansk to all for opening my day with a hoot, really.

s June 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm

This is great! Can’t wait to sit down and wrote my own.

MM June 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Here ya’ go. 250 words exactly.

It was hot and bright day under the blue sky. Anatoly was swearing at the Vaz. What he would not give for a Ford and not a Fiat out here in the middle of nowhere.

The cold wind was making Anatoly’s ears hurt as he banged on the carburetor with a rock. The dark clouds glowered down at him like an angry eye. The rock was not helping.

The thumping was coming from the big white Explorer trundling like a pregnant camel across the dusty plain under the burning sun, that looked down with a white hot stare on them.

“Hey man,” shouted the skinny kid driving the truck as he pulled up to Anatoly and turned down the thumpy radio. “Is there a Starbucks around here? I need some good coffee and some WiFi to write my blog. I am blogging the Silk Road.”

Even though Anatoly could not speak English he understood what the young man was trying to say. He was able to tell with the blogger with hand signs, that there was no Starbucks around here, but there was a Pete’s just over there. Where the faded blue sky met the hot ground in the distance and looked back like a shimmering eyeball.

When the intrepid writer turned to take a picture of the lost horizon with his iPhone, Anatoly hit him with the rock.

Anatoly drove off in his new Ford and left the dazed journalist to ponder the Vaz and the real Silk Road.

Naheed June 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

The streets of Kabul were filled with Afghans, faces that could very well have been plucked out of the 12th century; turbaned men with long beards, hustling past in shalwar kameez. Could they be Taliban or maybe just honest shopkeepers in this corruption-ridden town?

I asked my translator, the singly named Mateen, whether we would make it in time for the Buzkashi match. He answered like a typical Afghan, loyal and fierce to the end: “do not worry Sir, I fix it for you.”

Buzkashi is the game that best helps westerners understand, with relative ease, the complexity of Afghans and their country. It is a battle to end all battles: Man versus Man; Man versus the world; and, most appropriately for Afghans, Man versus Himself.

Mateen stepped on the accelerator and sped our Land Cruiser through the narrow streets of the city, deftly avoiding women and children. We arrived at the Buzkashi field with time to spare. People were cheek-by-jowl on the benches – the faces of the spectators harkening back to the time of Genghis Khan – all cheekbones and parched skin. The Buzkashi warriors – at one with their horses as to almost be a single animal — were ready to do battle, something they’d been doing since the dawn of time.

Michael Hancock June 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. My fictional character is one Lord Wurthingheim of Leeds, recently of a Corps of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, traveling through Greater Tartary after serving 15 years under The Lion and The Crown. It comes in over 250 words, but I feel the extra bits are justified. 🙂

…and next I shall relate my time among the Özbucks early in the summer of 1878. Their mannerisms were apparent while still a hundred yards off. Had we approached them from upwind, perhaps my initial impressions would have been more pleasant, though less accurate. They are a smelly breed of men, bandy-legged and prone to brutish lips. They laugh and curse colourfully and loudly when in good humour, but are sullen and quiet when cross. We had them join our band from safety, as one clutches the serpent rather then letting him roam at will.
We arrived in Khiva after an eternity crossing the wastes from Orenburg by authentic Oriental caravan, and our caravanserai for the night was swarming with rats and cockroaches of a gigantic aspect. I noticed that the Turkoman encampment was serving as an impromptu canteen, as several horses had died the previous day from unexplained privations. No sooner were the brutes slaughtered than the cooking pits were dug and the great cauldrons were laid out with mealy rice and unknown roughage from the wastes, all drowned in the lard and tripe of the late mares. Even had I been inspired by Dis to lay to, I would have had an easier time of stealing truffles from swine. The Özbucks and Turkomans sat elbow to armpit in circles around the cauldrons, dipping oily digits into the greasy mass, sucking the marrow from the bones before wiping their beards with the selfsame hands. I had heard of such manners among the lower castes of Hindoo and Afghaun, and foolishly ignored them as the lowest fruit of rumor-mongers. Even the wiliest of Chin merchants and shrewdest of Arab sheikhs benefits from contrast with these uncouth creatures. Their lack of cultivation is matched only by their ferocity on the battlefield, fueled by horse’s blood and, I’m told, ingrown hairs deep in the scalp. I begin to see that Alexander the Great had met his match when trying to instill civilization here, giving credence to the phrase “the Ends of the Earth.”

MM June 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Delightful. You win the “Sir Arthur Prize!”

Abe June 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Love the contest and the entries so far. But Mark can you specify a deadline for the contest?

mark June 29, 2010 at 3:41 am

keep them coming until they dry up

Bumin Khan June 29, 2010 at 12:44 am

A spectre is haunting Central Asia – the spectre of Pan-Turanianism.

Bear-uni June 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

[I’m ‘a post this one anonymously. Last thing I need is for someone to quote me on this!]

The Uzbeks are a mixed race with both Mongol and Turkish blood, a rugged, nomadic breed mingled with the more erudite stock of the Persian silk road oases. Naturally inclined towards farming and trade, today’s Uzbeks are the product of a repressive Soviet system that forced them to leave their traditional occupations to become proletarians and apparatchiks. The Russian colonizers also robbed them of their language and culture. Nonetheless, daily life in Uzbekistan remains virtually unchanged since ancient times, with mud-walled houses where the windowless inner courtyard shelters animal pens, primitive pit toilets, and the household’s women. Because Uzbek households are ruled by the iron fist of patriarchy, the Uzbeks are accustomed to brutal dictatorship and actually prefer a form of government that keeps them impoverished, uninformed and frightened.

Ian July 1, 2010 at 7:22 am

“With the US-led West getting about to withdraw from Afghanistan – the real upsurge for the crucial region historically known as the Between and Betwixt of Empires is about to begin in earnest. This will be a confluence – a perfect storm – of the revival and resurrection of historic mega-trends under contemporary conditions. Most important are the revival of the original Russian-Chinese ‘Great Game’. For almost three centuries, Central Asia was the preeminent zone of confrontation between China’s Manchu Dynasty (1644-1912) and Russia’s Romanov Dynasty (1613-1917). Now, the Heart of Asia has once again become the zone Between and Betwixt Empires in more than mere geopolitical terms. However, what makes the current situation uniquely explosive and dangerous is the surge of the Jihadist movement – emboldened by its enduring of the US/ISAF war in Afghanistan and Pakistan – as a most vibrant and violent force that is setting the Heart of Asia aflame. The Jihadist movement is facilitating the Chinese ascent as a global hegemon in return for a Chinese umbrella against US and Western retaliation. This confluence of historic and grand strategic mega-trends constitutes not only a threat to the quintessential vital interests of Russia – but to the well-being of the entire industrialized North.”

Oh, haha, that’s not fiction. That’s an excerpt from this report.

Sarah July 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

Oh my God…and here I thought you were overdoing it!

Ian July 1, 2010 at 9:14 am

Although it has not been previously, I hereby call for Central Asia to be known historically as “the Between and Betwixt of Empires” from now on.

Dave S. July 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm

In the spirit of the original B-L contest, which I believe is limited to single opening sentences, I humbly submit the following:

In the dusky shadow of the Bibi-Khanum mosque in the decaying yet imposing yet rather dusty for all that city of Samarkand (did we mention the Silk Road yet? Damn), Timur Syrdarya-oglu carefully arranged his collection of stereotypes and conspiracy theories, with a weather-beaten yet vaguely and menacingly Turkified bust of Stalin here and there for the more casual tourist, on a rug of distinctly Turkmen origin — do not let the otherwise scrupulously honest Kyrgyz tell you otherwise, their textile-related mendacity stands out like the fabled Tien Shan though with less year-round snow cover — for today, as he well knew, he was to be visited by the mysterious Westerner known only as Rall, whose very name conjured up cartoon after cartoon, richly drawn and springing forth from that fevered imagination, not to mention all of the pictures he’d drawn.

As you can see, my interest in winning this contest is quintessentially vital.

Rod July 6, 2010 at 7:52 am

“There is a long history of conflict in China’s Xinjiang (‘New Dominion’) province in western China, mainly between its Han Chinese and Turkic-speaking Uyghur communities. In July 2009, conflict reignited between these communities, causing the Chinese President Hu Jintao to return early from the G8 Summit in Italy. The Chinese government’s response was excessive and claimed to be in control of the situation. While Beijing insisted that the conflict was associated with China’s current campaign against international terrorism, many international observers have voiced concern that it was a result of repressive Chinese policies in Xinjiang. In a bid to bolster its international credibility the Chinese government then initiated visits by foreign delegations to Xinjiang, promoting the province’s diversity through trade fairs and exhibitions. These efforts, however, floundered as a new wave of fresh protests and conflict erupted in the provincial capital Urumqi two months later. This time, it was the Han community who protested against the authorities for not doing enough to protect them from random attacks, in which they were stabbed with hypodermic syringes.
[Oh, sorry…this was supposed to be about Central Asia, not China. My bad.]”

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