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April 11, 2011

A digression on literary categories
Posted by Teresa at 08:47 PM * 309 comments

My mind wandered while I was trying to explain marketing categories, and how they’re not solely determined by subject matter, to someone in a comment thread at Tor.com:

Say your book features a strange and powerful device, the Transnistrian Infundibulator:

If the storyline is about the inception, interim difficulties, and eventual happy resolution of the relationship between the inventor of the Transnistrian Infundibulator and some nice young woman, it’s a romance.

If he’s a scholar studying the Transnistrian Infundibulator, she’s a governess, and his best fossil specimen of T. infundibulator falls out of his pocket during a reception at Almack’s, it’s a regency.

If one or both of them is not 100% human, they meet cute while fighting off spooky badguys, and the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an ancient magical artifact they use to defeat said badguys, it’s a paranormal romance.

If she’s his lab assistant, he thinks she looks hot in goggles and a tool belt, and the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a huge rivet-intensive steam-driven mechanical wombat, it’s steampunk.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is magic, but instead of working like a handheld appliance, it generates profound and numinous changes that affect the world as a whole, it’s probably fantasy.

If figuring out who killed the inventor of the Transnistrian Infundibulator involves complex railway schedules, an old doctoral dissertation, and the exact whereabouts of all the houseguests on the night it happened, it’s a mystery.

If all the elements in the preceding paragraph are present, but are mere background to an increasingly convoluted series of unfortunate encounters, improvised excuses, assumed identities, and inadequate hiding places, it’s comedy of manners.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a very important box with blinky lights on it, but its only perceptible function is to motivate asst’d spies, gangsters, goons, private investigators, international men of mystery, and hot babes to steal it/recover it/put it out of commission/get hold of the plans for it/etc., it’s an action-packed mystery, or possibly a thriller. If characters who already know how the Transnistrian Infundibulator works stop the action dead in its tracks while they explain it to each other, it’s a technothriller.

If the effects of the Infundibulator leave blood and brains splashed on the walls, and the last surviving viewpoint character winds up in a desperate hand-to-hand fight in the dark with one of its half-rotting revenant Transnistrian victims, it’s horror.

I stopped there, but you don’t have to.
Comments on A digression on literary categories:
#1 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:17 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is magic, but instead of working like a handheld appliance, it generates profound and numinous changes that affect the world as a whole, but it's written by a literary author instead of a fantasy author, it's probably magical realism.

#2 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:39 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is supposed to be a power source, but when turned on, creates a black hole which threatens the world, until the inventor's assitant works out that modifying the backup to use a toroidal core instead of a spherical one creates a wormhole generator which can be used to a) trash the original device and b) travel faster than light across the universe, that would be cool.

#3 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:40 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is magic and generates profound and numinous changes that affect the world as a whole but is located in a far-off distant land and a team of brave but completely dissimilar people is required to reach it, it's Heroic Quest.

#4 ::: April Daniels ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:25 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a new divice used for gender transitions, then it's a coming of age queer novel.

#5 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:59 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a method for mediating snippets of writing between people communication, it's a blog.

#6 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:26 AM:

If the book features an ill-assorted team composed of representatives from four different sentient species (only one of them human) who have crash-landed on the Transnistrian Infundibulator and are trying to repair their space ship and re-launch it so they can get home, complete with grand tour of the strange kingdoms and alien empires that have grown up on it since the fall of the civilization that built it ... then it's a Discworld novel.

(Haaahahahah! You thought I was going to say "Hard SF"!)

#7 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:31 AM:

Your novel fails the Infundibulator Test if it does not contain at least two characters who at some point have a conversation with each other that is not about Infundibulators.

#8 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 07:49 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infudibulator fulfills any of the criteria above (and below for that matter) but the protagonists are teenagers, it is probably YA[variable].

If the protagonists are kids, it is probably Juvenile[variable].

If the protagonists are babies, it's by someone very strange like Lemony Snicket or Jon Scieszka or Dr. Seuss.

#9 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:15 AM:

If the TI is rare, wondrous, easily insertable and leads to a crashing series of orgasms, then it's a pop-up ad.

#10 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:38 AM:

For all your Transnistrian Infundibulator needs, if you're seeking Infundibulators, Transnistrian or otherwise, you've come to right place for the best deals on Transnistrian Infundibulators. Our Transnistrian Infundibulator expertise is unmatched by anyone else in the Transnistrian Infundibulator business. This Transnistrian Infundibulator website is most likely in the SEO spamblog genre, according to most Transistrian Infundibulator experts.

#11 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:51 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a magus from the obscure Roman province of Transnistria who is a practitioner of the nearly-forgotten divinatory rite of infundibulatio, then it's alternate-historical fantasy and I'd read it in a heartbeat. Or possibly write it, if I could think of a plot.

#12 ::: GG ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:25 AM:

If the characters start behaving extraordinarily strangely for no apparent reason, and it has nothing to do with the Transnistrian Infundibulator or the plot, it's fanfic.

If the main character has any kind of romantic or physical relations with another character (usually of the same gender) they otherwise show no interest in in canon, it's slashfic.

If the characters are so far out of whack that the universe of the story starts creaking and warping around their actions, causing two completely unknown characters show up out of nowhere and taser/kill/dispose of everyone, it's _Protectors of the Plot Continuum_.

#13 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:36 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator falls out of an aeroplane and crashes through the kitchen roof of a well-off lawyer's country home, triggering a chain of events that lead to his wife having an affair with a handsome thatcher and questioning her stale marriage, it's an Aga saga.

#14 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:44 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator could be used for filling your navel with more than 75 ml of liquid, it will be confiscated by the TSA as Security Theater.

#15 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:52 AM:

Charlie @ #6 - I didn't know Eric Frank Russell had written Discworld!

#16 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:07 AM:

If someone tells you they have a Transnistrian Infundibulator, but because of the unstable political situation in Outer Ruritania they need to get it out of the country, and you, dear friend, looked so trustworthy that they want you to help them, but they need a small initial loan to start the process, it's a Nigerian scam.

#17 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:09 AM:

Oh, and

If all the elements in the preceding paragraph are present, but are mere background to an increasingly convoluted series of unfortunate encounters, improvised excuses, assumed identities, and inadequate hiding places, it’s the latest Miles Vorkosigan and/or sequel to To Say Nothing of the Dog.

(And wouldn't that be a great crossover...the mind boggles and just kind of stays boggled.)

#18 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:13 AM:

If you keep the Transnistrian Infundibulator on the mantelpiece of your crumbling antebellum house but forbid everyone in the family ever to speak of it, burying the bodies of door-to-door evangelists who inquire about it under your large and flourishing magnolia tree in the dead of night, then it's a Southern Gothic novel.

#19 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:28 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a magus from the obscure Roman province of Transnistria who is a practitioner of the nearly-forgotten divinatory rite of infundibulatio, then it's alternate-historical fantasy and I'd read it in a heartbeat. Or possibly write it, if I could think of a plot.

Not obscure or Roman: a real live (though non-recognised) breakaway state right now.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria

An infundibulator is presumably something to do with infundibula, or funnel or cone-shaped cavities or objects.

Divination using funnel-shaped objects? Sounds like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_fortune_teller

#20 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:36 AM:

I'm pretty sure that Walt Disney copyrighted the Transnistrian Infundibulator in 1928. You are all messing around with DisneyLaw, and further exploitation of Disney's intellectual property could expose you to serious criminal and civil actions.

Pffbbbtt!

#21 ::: Elf Sternberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:38 AM:

If the TI is rare, wondrous, easily insertable and leads to a crashing series of orgasms, then it's a pop-up ad.

However, if the Transnistrian Infundibulator is the only thing in the story that does this, the dialogue is stilted and tragic, and despite fabulous used furniture the characters still go through their paces as if in a 1970s airport "adult" novel, then you're reading SciFi from ID, Samhain, or Ellora's Cave.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:49 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator could be the key to a significant human presence in space if only the government would get out of the way, it's a science column by Jerry Pournelle in "Galaxy".

#23 ::: Nicholas Condon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:52 AM:

If the story of the Transnistrian Infundibulator is told in 240 characters or less, it's a Twitter post.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:58 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a device that will bring back the Spirit of Christmas, it means that Connie Willis is truly done with "Blackout/All Clear". (I hear that her next tale will be about a robot who wants to be a Rockette.)

#25 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:11 AM:

Serge: C.L. Moore got there first. (Oh, all right, technically Dierdre is not a robot. Though you could make an argument that her body is one.)

#26 ::: Nicholas Condon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:15 AM:

If an ordinary guy is mistaken for the person who stole the plans for the Transnistrian Infundibulator, and he falls in love with a beautiful, icy blonde while trying to escape from everyone and clear his name, it's a Hitchcock movie.

#27 ::: Martin Owton ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:16 AM:

If the TI is a device which enables a middle-aged academic to get tenure at a small university, divorce his wife and contemplate starting an affair with his graduate student then it is literary fiction

#28 ::: Nicholas Condon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:18 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a malfunctioning device necessary to the survival of a group of spacefarers, and it's brought back to working order by the clever actions of a calm and supremely competent cardboard cutout, it's Golden Age SF.

#29 ::: Nicholas Condon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:21 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is the super-important invention of the hamfisted Mary Sue of a lead character, and TNH would have culled the book from the slushpile sometime before the application of criterion #7, it's a vanity press novel.

#30 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:22 AM:

If it is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single man of good fortune must be in want of a Transnistrian Infundibulator, it's Austenpunk.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:23 AM:

Lila @ 24... A collaboration between Moore and Willis? Now there's a concept.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Nicholas Condon @ 26... If we cross your post with Lila @ 25, do we get "North by Northwest Smith"?

#33 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:28 AM:

If a local fellow tells Your Hero that an untimely frost has blighted all the trees on which Transmysterian Interscribulators do grow, it's a Harold Shea story.

#34 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:32 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator has a long family history, and making peace with this history brings grown daughters back to visit their mother and finally learn the truth, especially if one can do fabric arts with, of, or around the TI, then it's women's fiction.

#35 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:39 AM:

And if the search for the Transnistrian Infundibulator precipitates a rash of killings, betrayals, sneering threats from gunsels, the involvement of a beautiful but untrustworthy woman, knockout drops (or a sapping), and possibly lamb chops and tomatoes at John's Grill, it's Dashiell Hammett noir.

#36 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:40 AM:

Nobody expected the Transnistrian Infundibulation!

#37 ::: Stephanie Leary ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:41 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator
makes badass knights accept INEXPLICABLE CHALLENGES
from total strangers
involving AXES and shit
the story is a Myth RETOLD.

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:57 AM:

If there's a question of whether a Transnistrian Infundibulator infundibulates Transnistrians, it's a "bears shit in the woods" analog.

If there's a question of whether a Transnistrian Infundibulator infundibulates Transnistrians in the woods, it's a "bears shit in the woods" mashup. Expect popes in there too.

If there's a question of whether a Transnistrian Infundibulator which infundibulates Transnistrians in the woods where no one can hear it makes a sound, it's a koan.

If there's an explanation of how a Transnistrian Infundibulator is like the Kingdom of Heaven, it's a parable.

If there's a story about a Transnistrian Infundibulator walking into a bar, it's a joke.

#39 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:05 PM:

And if a jockey gets involved with the TI in any way, it's a Dick Francis novel.

#40 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:08 PM:

If there's a question of how a Transnistrian Infundibulator infundibulates Transistrians, it's a riddle.

If there's a question of how a Transnistrian Infundibulator infundibulates Transnistrians followed by seven answers:
1 one answer which reflects the popular understanding but is wholly wrong
2 one correct answer, light on detail
3 one answer pushing a particular brand of Transnistrian that is especially infundibulible
4 one urban myth
5 one answer pushing a partiucular brand of Infundibulator that works with multiple kinds of Transnistrian.
6 one correct answer, overly detailed
7 one conspiracy theory about how infundibulated Transnistrians were responsible for 9/11
...then it's an internet answers site.

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:09 PM:

Lila @18, I'm reliably informed by Dr. Doyle that in order to be a Southern Novel, there must also be a dead mule in it.

#42 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:19 PM:

If it has a colourful setting, an unabashedly contrived and implausible romantic plot, lots of racking good tunes, and at least one patter song containing an improbable number of rhymes for "Transnistrian Infundibulator," it's a Savoy opera.

#43 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:24 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an artefact created by a secret order of illuminati, AND:

it prevents the apocalypse, it's a Dan Brown novel,
it causes the apocalypse, it's a H P Lovecraft novel.
it causes the apocalypse, but nobody notices, it's a China Mieville novel.
it causes something, but nobody has the least idea what, it's a Cory Doctorow novel.

#44 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:28 PM:

If the writing wobbles between second person and third person generic ("one"), and covers in great detail how one Infundibulates, but not why one would want to, or how the Transnistrian nature of an Infundibulator affects the Infundibulation process, you have stumbled upon a Transnistrian Infundibulator technical manual.

If it makes a series of empty promises about the quality of Infundibulation, and implies that Transnistrian Infundibulation is the best type of Infundibulation without providing any evidence for this claim, you instead have a Transnistrian Infundibulator marketing pamphlet.

#45 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:35 PM:

If the process of Infundibulating or the definition of Transnistrianism is explicated at length, with documents, maps, charts, diagrams, and footnotes, it's a textbook.

If it's short, to the point, and ends with a pithy saying, it's an Aesopian fable.

#46 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:45 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is in the possession of a young woman who is attracted to two men, one of whom is probably a villain, it's an old-fashioned romantic suspense novel. (Unless there's a large house involved, and she's a governess or companion, in which case it's a Gothic romance.) If said young woman is a competent professional in a law-enforcement-related field and the there's a serial killer on the loose, it's a modern romantic suspense novel.
------------------------
Janet Bennett Croft (17): the latest Miles Vorkosigan and/or sequel to To Say Nothing of the Dog.

(And wouldn't that be a great crossover...the mind boggles and just kind of stays boggled.)

I wanna read that!

#47 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 12:45 PM:

at least one patter song containing an improbable number of rhymes for "Transnistrian Infundibulator,"

...and there goes my productivity for the day.

#48 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:08 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is incorrectly calibrated and instead of infundibulating, initiates its rastafication cycle, locking all dreads (and associated terrors, qualms, nightmares, nervous prostrations, hysterias, willies, megrims, and both heebies and jeebies) in their current configurations, then no purging of fear & pity can be initiated and all taxonomic schemes collapse into a categorical singularity in which distinctions merge into an undifferentiated field of unsatisfied expectations that not even a full cycle of postmodern theoretical analysis can unpick.

#49 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:13 PM:

If someone confesses to infundibulating the Transnistrians which their housemate was saving for breakfast, it's a William Carlos Williams pastiche.

If it's a detailed and somewhat gruesome description what to do after Transnistrians have been infundibulated, told in an alarmingly cheerful no-nonsense tone and including at least two mnemonics, it's a Jim Macdonald medical post (Teresa, don't look).

#50 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:17 PM:

TNH @ #41, AACK!! Massive fail!!!

*hangs down her head in shame and departs to the strains of a mournful banjo rendition of "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad"*

#51 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:23 PM:

abi @ 49: THANK YOU. I refreshed just before typing

This is just to say
that I have infundibulated the transnistrians...

and now I don't have to. Whew, bullet dodged.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:25 PM:

What does the Transnistrian Infundibulator do in an Ayn Rand story?

#53 ::: parkrrrr ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:29 PM:

Serge @#52: whatever suits its self-interest.

#54 ::: parkrrrr ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:33 PM:

Charlie @#6: That's essentially Strata, which any fool knows isn't really a Discworld novel despite prominently featuring a world shaped like a disc.

#55 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:34 PM:

So in which genre does the woman get to be the one to invent or become the foremost authority on the Transnistrian Infundibulator herself?

#56 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:38 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator caused the collapse of civilization the novel is post-apocalyptic.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is being used to repress the populace under the excuse of being necessary to keep civilization from collapsing, the novel is dystopic.

#57 ::: POM ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:40 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an ancient evil power that is threatening the world and the only person who can stop it is a twenty-something foul-mouthed, red-headed, leather-clad mage from New York City who was orphaned at birth, grew up on the streets, and carries 25 weapons on her person at all times, it’s an urban fantasy.

#58 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:44 PM:

Hillary Hertzoff @8: If the protagonists are babies, it is an only slightly unusual episode of "Rugrats"

Serge @52: If it's an Ayn Rand novel, it is a revolutionary industrial innovation which governments, unions, clergy, defrauded investors, creditors and other undeserving parasites will try to steal.

I am a bit surprised nobody has summarized the plot of "Harry Potter and the Transnistrian Infundibulator".

#59 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:49 PM:

If a group of teens get lost on a stormy night and stop at an abandoned old house with a Transnistrian Infundibulator in the basement, when the sexually-adventurous young lady (who also smokes weed and uses bad language) goes to take a shower, she won't be coming back. It's a slasher movie.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is squamous, meets at no earthly angles, has a color that takes an entire paragraph of description to say that it is wholly indescribable, and causes those who see it to run mad, it's a classic-age Weird Tales story.

#60 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 01:50 PM:

parkrrrr @54: that is the correct answer! Have a banana! Oook!

#61 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:05 PM:

Dave Luckett @ #43:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an artefact created by a secret order of illuminati, AND:

...it was a Discordian plot all along, it's the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

#62 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:26 PM:

If Transnistrian Infundibulator is a boojum, it's an Agony in Eight Fits.

#63 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:31 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is briefly described between transistors and Transylvania, it's probably an encyclopedia, or possibly a dictionary.

#64 ::: Amanda ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:32 PM:

If the inventor of the Transnistrian Infundibulator has died under suspicious circumstances, and the main character, after pretending to go insane for a while, uses the TI to unleash gruesome retaliatory violence on the murderer(s) and anyone else who hasn't already been killed before Act 5, it's a revenge tragedy.

#65 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:36 PM:

James D. Macdonald: has a color that takes an entire paragraph of description to say that it is wholly indescribable

This means it was written by Lionel Fanthorpe or Karl Ziegfried or Bron Fane or John E.Muller or Leo Brett or Pel Torro, or by David Langford if changing a lightbulb is included.

#66 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:36 PM:

If the TI is surrounded by people getting high, saving the world, and spreading enlightenment through telepathy, sometimes with the help of time travelers, it's a Spider Robinson novel.

#67 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:38 PM:

If the first half of the book is about trying to get the Transnistrian Infundibulator to work, and the second half is about what happens after it does, it's classic sci-fi by either Isaac Asimov or Hal Clement.

#68 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:40 PM:

Ajay @47, go for it -- unless you really need to work on that whatever-it-is.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:42 PM:

How many Transnistrians could a Transnistrian Infundibulator infundibulate if a Transnistrian Infundibulator could infundibulate Transnistrians?

#70 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:44 PM:

If "transnistrian infundibulator" turns out to be someone's mishearing of "transistor in the elevator," it's a realistic children's novel of the type that scars young f/sf fans. Ps. Ryrnabe Pnzreba'f Gur Greevoyr Puheanqelar.

#71 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:51 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a tool built by renegade eco-scientists in a World Gone Bad due to Greedy Science, 20 years in the future, to assist the downtrodden in hiding from the World Government and living their lives in the New Utopia, and there is body-sculpting and PDAs, it's still not SF, because it's written by Margaret Atwood, and therefore CanLit, and remember, SF Is Not Literature (even CanLit).

#72 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 02:52 PM:

Higgledy Piggledy
Making Light denizens
Categorizing all
Literature styles


Find putting the Transnistrian
Infundibulator
Quite hard to do inside
Double dactyls.

#74 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:01 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is briefly described between transistors and Transylvania, it's probably an encyclopedia, or possibly a dictionary.

If there is an entry for "Transnistrian Infundibulator" but no entries for "transistor" or "Transylvania", then you might be reading the Encyclopedia of Tlön; check to see if there's an entry on Uqbar.

#75 ::: Tilja ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:05 PM:

Janni @55: It's a women fantasy.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator
Is given in 3 short verses
It's a Haiku.

#76 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:05 PM:

If you actually see what the Transnistrian Infundibulator looks like in the book twice, it's comics.

If it also has a spine, it's a graphic novel.

#77 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:06 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator can increase your size, length, stamina, volume or distance (no, really, I saw that one once), then it's spam.

#78 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:28 PM:

If the TI is a replicaTransnistrian Infundibulator, a Swiss replicaTransnistrian Infundibulator or a Louis Vitton Transnistrian Infundibulator, then it's still spam.

#79 ::: Glorfarion ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:31 PM:

If the TI was invented long ago by a boring person, usually female, and a modern day female is writing the biography of the inventor for no reason, particularly not the actual hope of publishing it, and the plot switches back and forth between the lives of the two, attempting to highlight similarities and failing, it's a book club pick.

If the TI's inventor is a twenty-something young woman who is clutzy, lives in the big city and has a fetish for ugly, expensive shoes while thinking that she is not attractive, even though at least two young, hot males are vying for her affections, it is chick lit.

If the TI is the source of a small town's wealth and bad guys ride in on horses and take it and a mysterious tough guy who refuses to give out his name comes in to save it while also killing all the bad guys in a shootout at the end, it's a western.

#80 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:34 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a sentient device that allows you to either travel in time so you can have sex with your mother, or clone yourself so you can have sex with a female version of yourself, or both, then it's Late Heinlein.

#81 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 03:36 PM:

If it's spelled Trans'nis'tri'an In'fun'di'bu'la'tor, it needs to go back to the author in the provided SASE.

Or given back to the student marked 'correct' for syllabification.

#82 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:00 PM:

HelenS (70): I loved that book. But that part was extremely lame.

#83 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:08 PM:

If all its words lack our fifth glyph, as "Transnistrian Infundibulator" doth, it's Oulipo.

#84 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:15 PM:

Xopher @ 69

Not so loud! If the Internet Oracle hears you, there will be ZOT's flying everywhere...

#85 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:22 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is never clearly described aside from that it creates untold wealth for whoever owns it, it's the Kalevala.

---L.

#86 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:27 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a model 94/A and you can program it in BASIC, then you're in a 1980s home computer user manual.

#87 ::: Braxis ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:31 PM:

If no one has ever seen a Transnistrian Infundibulator, but many people have faith in it's existence, it's the start of a new religion.

#88 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:37 PM:

I've never seen a Transnistrian Infundibulator
I never hope to see one
But I'm pretty sure that sooner or later
They'll be making a 3-D one.

#89 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:37 PM:

@ #57: I think you left out the tattoos?

If the T.I. is a part of medieval/renaissance life that tells us IMPORTANT stuff, which lame white dead guys have ignored for generations because they're old and they suck and stuff, it's popular history.

#90 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:38 PM:

If the cover declares it to be based upon a true story, it's fiction.

#91 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:39 PM:

If it ends in the most hopeless way possible, and getting there was hugely fun and hilarious, you misread and it's actually a chrono-synclastic infundibulator.

#92 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Tilja @75: Ah! And if it fails to sell, we can blame that on its genre, and never have to take a harder look at the problems of readers being unable to spell Transnistrian Infundibulator!

#93 ::: SylvieG ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Dave Barry thinks Transnistrian Infundibulator would be a good name for a rock band.

#94 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:45 PM:

Serge@52, that's a subcase of Abi's original If she’s his lab assistant, he thinks she looks hot in goggles and a tool belt, and the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a huge rivet-intensive steam-driven mechanical wombat, it’s steampunk. If she's also strong, and he's good-looking, and one of them makes a 60-page long speech about economics, the workers, parasites, industry, genius, and virtue, then it's Socialist Realism or, if you read the speech backwards, it's an Ayn Rand novel.

#95 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:49 PM:

If only kids notice the Transnistrian Infundibulator, and it's used in ways that give the kids the kind of power they want without changing anything in the rest of the world, it's a Daniel Pinkwater story. Particularly if it has simple computer-based drawings.

#96 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:50 PM:

If the TI is in a book by Ian Fleming, it might contain this advice from Q:

"....If you've got your Infundibulator,
Then you can just quickly immolate 'er.

Unless she's not Transnistrian.
So -do- please note her hist'ry, Bond."

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:53 PM:

parkrrr @ 53... Bill Stewart @ 94... Heheheh... By the way, this weekend I saw the coming attraction (if one can call it that) for "Atlas Shrugged - Part One". Yup, there's going to be a "Part Two".

#98 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:56 PM:

abi@40, if one of the categories is "(a) Transnistrian Infundibulators belonging to the emperor", it's a Borges essay.

tnh@41, if there's a dead mule involved, it might could also be a western.

If your Infundibulator is up on blocks in the driveway, you might also be a Transnistrian.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is briefly described between transsexual and Transylvania, it's a horror, optionally rocky, with word ordering covered under the Poetic License.

#99 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 04:57 PM:

Pausing briefly to applaud Bill Stewart @36 and Kip W @88

#100 ::: Allen Varney ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:03 PM:

I'd be interested in a novel of nine to 15 chapters that tells a continuous infundibulator narrative using a different genre style in each chapter. I'd express my interest from some distance away, but my interest would be real, as for instance with a wounded rhino.

#101 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:09 PM:

If the Transdnistrian Infibulator's existence can be deduced from the necessary conditions of self-consciousness, its a work of German Idealist philosophy.

If the Transdnistrian Infibulator is a logical construction out of sense data it's a work of logical positivism.

If a bunch of guys sit around trying to provide an acceptable definition of the Transdnistrian Infibulator, and never quite manage it, it's an early Platonic dialogue.

(and if a woman comes and tells them that there attempts to give an account of the Transdnistrian Infibulator are inadequate reflections of a cosmic blue-print, it's an alternate history version of the Symposium)

#102 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:10 PM:

Bill Stewart@98: if there's a dead mule involved, it might could also be a western.

Not so. Westerns have live horses. And occasionally live donkeys belonging to crochety old prospectors who have discovered the Lost Dutchman Mine. If a Transnistrian Infibulator is also involved, you have recovered a lost episode of The Wild, Wild West.

#103 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:11 PM:

Argh. Infundibulator. German Idealists can't spell.

#104 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:11 PM:

Arrgh. Infundibulator.

#105 ::: joXn ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:12 PM:

If it's a dramatic work and requires a symphony orchestra, chorus, and soloists to perform, it's opera.

-- If the Transnistrian Infundibulator has been cursed and brings woe to all who lay eye or finger upon it, and the piece takes 5 hours to perform (intermissions extra), it's WAGNERIAN OPERA.

-- If the music involves heavy quotation from the charming folk tunes of Transnistria, it's EASTERN EUROPEAN OPERA.

-- If the music is primarily in the Italian classical style and the plot involves women mistakenly being taken for men, it's OPERA BUFFA.

-- If the music is in primarily late-German romantic style and the lead character is a male role sung by a woman, it's RICHARD STRAUSS.

-- If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an instrument required for the successful performance of the work, it's MODERN OPERA.

#106 ::: Jim Millen ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:13 PM:

If Transnistrian Infundibulator is the name of a starship, then it's a Culture novel.

Good thread...

#107 ::: Tilja ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:16 PM:

Janni @92: If readers of the Transnistrian Infundibulator genre can't spell the name right, then yes, we can blame the Transnistrian Infundibulator genre for it!

Transnistrian Infundibulator already belongs to its own genre.

(The women fantasy was a joke on the lack of examples for your suggestion.)

#108 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:18 PM:

#97 Yup, there's going to be a "Part Two".

Not if Part One dies at the box office.


If the Transnistrian Infundibulator causes everyone present to screw like minks, while the author provides very detailed descriptions of the moving parts, bodily fluids are mentioned (in quantities that would cause hypovolemic shock due to dehydration should a normal human produce them in the time-period stated), and a great number of single-word paragraphs appear in which simple words like "Yes," "No," and "Ah" are spelled out in ways that fill three printed lines (e.g. "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssss!"), and no one thinks there's anything odd about this, then it's a porn novel.

#109 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:22 PM:

If kids these days don't want to read about Transnistrian Infundibulators, it's because they no longer appreciate good literature, don't care about the future, and are leading this world toward certain ruin.

#110 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:23 PM:

Tilja @107: Knew that! Was trying to just take the joke farther. :-)

#111 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:27 PM:

joXn @105: If it's a dramatic work and requires a symphony orchestra, chorus, and soloists to perform, it's opera.

If it's a dramatic work and requires a symphony orchestra, chorus, soloists, and elaborate sets to perform, it's opera.

If it's a dramatic work and requires a symphony orchestra, chorus, and soloists but no sets to perform, it's an oratorio.

#112 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:28 PM:

If the TI will integrate all the people of the world, and collapse cultures because of the new freedom of information flow through it, it's a story of the Singularity.

#113 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:38 PM:

If the region of Transnistria was first settled by a wealthy merchant family of the House of the Chreotha, which had previously gained its wealth and stature by establishing a series of trade outposts along the length of the river that flowed into the region from the northeast and exited it just slightly south of west, and thus came to name the area Tranis, from the house cant of the Chreotha meaning several crossings, but due to a tragic miscalculation fell into financial embarrassment and was forced to sell all its holdings back to the Empire late in the Twelfth Cycle, whereupon it was taken up by a Dragonlord and named Tranis Nistra, which translates loosely from the ancient tongue of that House as Tranis Crossings; and if, furthermore, the fine and dangerous art of infundibulation was first explored by a baron of the House of the Athyra early in the Thirteenth Jhegaala Reign with initially disastrous results, but refined by his heir and subsequently pressed into use in the Waymeet Rebellion and the Sixth (or Seventh) Battle of Dzur Mountain, it's an historical romance, otherwise known as a notebook recording the research efforts of Paarfi of Roundwood.

#114 ::: Tilja ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:51 PM:

Janni @110: You've taken it up with flying colours! Farther than any other Transnistrian Infibulator has ever gone before. :-)

#115 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 05:58 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an enormous electronic brain which acquires consciousness halfway thru the story and spends the rest of the story scheming [against its creators | to take over the world], then it's cyberpunk.

#116 ::: Ouranosaurus ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:05 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is sought by a collection of burned out (pick up to three) rock stars/bicycle couriers/console cowboys/disgraced ex-cops/rogue AIs/high tech assassins/amoral government agents, through a dystopian near-future landscape of urban sprawl, where everyone has marvelous designer coats and shades, it's a William Gibson novel.

#117 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:06 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator, along with every other plot device and character, changes all its essential attributes from chapter to chapter (often while driving down Peachtree Boulevard), it's Atlanta Nights.

#118 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:06 PM:

Lila #50: No problem, just put the dead mule under the magnolia too!

#119 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:14 PM:

Debra Doyle @102:

Westerns have live horses. And occasionally live donkeys belonging to crochety old prospectors who have discovered the Lost Dutchman Mine. If a Transnistrian Infibulator is also involved, you have recovered a lost episode of The Wild, Wild West.

Unless the horse is the smartest horse in the world and the sheriff has a magnificent chin, in which case it's Brisco County Jr.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:14 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is about knitting, TexAnne will grab it off your hands before you know it.

#121 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:28 PM:

If the Transdnistrian Infibulator: a) runs things over; b) causes lots of things to explode; or (preferably) c) runs things over, blows them up, then itself bursts into flames and explodes, it's an Infernokrusher novel.

#122 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:34 PM:

If that strange and powerful device, the Transnistrian Infundibulator, is explained to be a name for a suddenly-familiar narrative convention, which, with a slight shock, you now realize you've encountered over and over again, and, in addition, examples of the Transnistrian Infundibulator are presented from the realms of anime, comics, live-action TV, movies, and video games, along with crosslinks to innumerable further terms in an unfolding lexicon of criticism, so fascinating that you fail to notice the passage of time, then you are reading the Transnistrian Infundibulator entry in TV Tropes.

#123 ::: Denny Lien ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:37 PM:

If the supposedly infalliable Transnistrian Infundibulator backfires, turning the operator to a charred mess which collapses to the ground with a slight tinkling sound, and we then see said Transnistrian Infundibulator had come out of a large packing case marked "Acme," it's a Warner Brothers cartoon.

#124 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:43 PM:

If a working Transnistrian Infundibulator was built by Rosicrucians while they were hiding from Cromwell, to a design deduced from fragments of Atlanetan manuscripts, but it was not, after all, the motive power for the Nazi flying saucers from the hollow Earth, then you may have found some of the 500 missing pages cut from Illuminatus!.
Especially if there's an anarchist allegory or screed in there somewhere (left or right, flip a coin), or some peculiar pornography.

#125 ::: Denny Lien ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 06:57 PM:

If we learn that locals have many legends of the Transnistrian Infundibulator (or something that apparently looks very much like it) and that a team of investigators went to check this out and interviewed a lot of the natives, but did not actually, you know, find anything except some ambigious tracks that might or might not have been made by a Transnistrian Infundibulator, but they are still convinced it exists and are raising funds for another expedition after the rainy season is over, it's an article in FORTEAN TIMES.

#126 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Contributed by my daughter, much as I wish I could take credit for it:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator goes "ding" when there's stuff, it's an episode of Doctor Who.

#127 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 07:12 PM:

If there are many local legends of the Transnistrian Infundibulator, and it suddenly starts appearing around the spooky house/abandoned theme park/out-of-the-way hunting lodge/remote village, and when four teenagers and a dog show up and prove it was mocked up by bad guys trying to scare the rightful heirs away from the land, then you'll know it's an episode of classic Scooby-Doo.

If there is real magic happening, it's the neo-Scooby Gang to the rescue.

#128 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 07:17 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is not all the things that a being claiming to be Neil claiming to be from Chicago claimed in a message claiming to be numbered 124, then the 500 pages you are reading which don't appear to be about that at all were planted by the Conspiracy to keep you from noticing that they are, in fact, missing from the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and that just shows how deceptively clever they are!! (And you didn't hear the evil laugh behind you while you were reading this because the effort of not seeing the fnords distracted you.)

#129 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:09 PM:

Glenn Hauman @ 72:

That one must have been found in a new edition of The Space Child's Mother Goose.


If "Transnistrian Infundibulator" passes your spell checker you are running Windows 9. Time to switch to an Apple computer.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a sex toy and gets passed around throughout the second act you're watching a farce. If it honks every time you see it, you're watching a remake of Night at the Opera.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator can be used in a major terrorist operation somewhere in the Continental U.S. or Alaska, it's a Tom Clancy novel. If it can be used in Hawai'i it's an episode of Hawai'i 5-0, but that's not likely, as no one can adequately replace Khigh Dheigh.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator has a distant relation who is an almost exact physical likeness, and likes to wear Ruritanian uniforms, there will almost certainly be a scene in a dungeon and at least one chase scene set in the royal palace.

Never touch a downed Transnistrian Infundibulator; stay well away and call your utility company immediately to report it.

#130 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:12 PM:

If you open the book to find the passage

Mix ingredients in Transnistrian Infundibulator at low setting for 30 seconds. Marinate for 4 hours. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

it's a cookbook.

If you flip to the front cover and it says "To Serve Man", IT"S A COOKBOOK!

#131 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:27 PM:

If there are 30 pages of clothing ads before the first mention of a T. I., it's a fashion magazine.

If the T. I. is discovered by a plucky orphan boy with a pet flying snake, it's really the Tar-Aiym Krang.

If it is a long series of anecdotes about clients demanding that the T. I. be faxed to them so that their nephew in college can apply a new theme or make it "pop" or photoshop the black people out of it, it's Clients from Hell.

If Transnistrian Infundibulator is the base of a series of recursive acronyms none longer than 8 letters, and the only mention of a real or fictitious person's name in the whole volume is the phrase "Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds", it's the Transnistrian Infundibulator Principles of Operation from IBM.

#132 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:32 PM:

If the story opens with the Transnistrian Infundibulator approaching the third planet of an unexplored system, the author's mother will be the only one surprised at the revelation that this is Earth.

#133 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:32 PM:

If it actually mentions Tiraspol, then it's Political Science.

#134 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:37 PM:

If it's an outrage that the people are not allowed to vote on who Transnistrians can infundibulate, it's right-wing propaganda.

And conversely,if the writer hopes that President Obama will follow up on his vague statement of support for Transnistrian infundibulation one of these years, it's left-wing propaganda.

#135 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:39 PM:

Helen S at # 70: Thanks! I've never been able to recall what book had the Puheanqelar.

#136 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:43 PM:

#76, no, if the Transnistrian Infundibulator has a spine, it's probably a Borg.

(Oh, you meant something else.)

If it's abbreviated TI throughout the whole piece but never spelled out, and hailed as the thing we must all learn/embrace/buy or risk obsolescence, and your Dean saw something about it at a conference you can't afford to go to and calls you up asking you to look into it/get a speaker on it for the next workshop/work it into your task force report, then you're reading a library journal.

#137 ::: tnv ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:50 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is portrayed with a cat in/on/under/over it, and a caption in white sans-serif font with black edges, it is an Icanhazcheezburger site.

#138 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:52 PM:

If only one person in the room has a Transnistarian Infundibulator because of its extreme rarity, you're playing a collectible card game. If the person playing the card is Dave Howell, I wouldn't be surprised.

#139 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:54 PM:

If anagramming Transnistrian Infundibulator proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that C. L. Dodgson was really Jack the Ripper, it's self-published.

#140 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 08:56 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is left by thoughtful and/or suspicious ancestors to aid their decendants in the fight against an alien menace AND:
...has dragons, it's an Anne McCaffrey novel
...has tall ships, it's a David Weber novel
...also might simultaneously be a comedy of manners and romance, it's a Lee & Miller novel
...the story is mostly a setting for the explanation of the importance of the TI on the historical and current economic-socio-political situation elsewhere in the current and forthcoming series, it's an Azimov novel
...it shows up, does its thing, and humanity is transformed into something greater, it's an Arthur C. Clarke novel.

#141 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:06 PM:

If Annals Turn In, Sir, Dot A Rut Bin.

#142 ::: weatherglass ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:08 PM:

If, at the end of a discussion of Greek myth, breakfast cereal, and Buddhism the Transnistrian Infundibulator is recognizable as a character from an 80's cartoon show and/or the Bible, it's a Hitherby Dragons entry.

#143 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:46 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is capable of profoundly affecting the state of the world and the nature of reality and possibility, but it and its effects do not last past the ending where the status quo is restored, then some may declare it to be a genre other than SF.

If TRANSNISTRIAN INFUNDIBULATOR INFUNDIBULATES YOUR TRANSNISTRITES, then it's an Internet meme.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator operates below the level of the ether, is energized by way of fifteen-inch square copper bus bars, and is directed by the gears and cams of the most precise machine ever built, then it was written by Doc Smith.

#144 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 09:52 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator operates below the level of the ether, is energized by way of fifteen-inch square copper bus bars, and is directed by the gears and cams of the most precise machine ever built, then it was written by Doc Smith.

But only if it coruscates with unimaginable force.

#145 ::: Laughingrat ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:00 PM:

Alas, I wish #136 did not ring so very true.

#146 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:19 PM:

If it initially seems to belong to any one of these genres, but then the next chapter appears to come from an entirely different work, it's If on a Winter's Night a Transnistrian Infundibulator.

#147 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:29 PM:

If "Transnistrian Infundibulator" turns out to be an ingenious English rendering by Michael Kandel of a fiendishly recondite Polish coinage, then the original is by Sanisław Lem.

#148 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:36 PM:

If an astronaut and two robots appear in the lower right corner and the Transnistrian Infundibulator ends up going wonky, and it is then fixed with parts from the Interocitor that one of the robots keeps in his bedroom, you've got an evening's worth of fine entertainment that neither Universal Studios or the Sci-Fi (Skiffy) channel will be entirely comfortable with.

#149 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:38 PM:

...neither Universal Studios NOR the Sci-Fi (Skiffy) channel...

#150 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 10:48 PM:

If it stars Will Smith, it's a remake.

#151 ::: k2t0f12d ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:00 PM:

If a Transnistrian Infundibulator is an ancient device designed by vampires to escape the planet in a distant apocolyptic future, and a vampire is trying to reach it with his human lover while being chased by a half-vampire hunter with a band of rag-tag bounty hunters, its a Vampire Hunter D sequel.

#152 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:15 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft@136:

If it's abbreviated TI throughout the whole piece but never spelled out, and hailed as the thing we must all learn/embrace/buy or risk obsolescence, and your Dean saw something about it at a conference you can't afford to go to and calls you up asking you to look into it/get a speaker on it for the next workshop/work it into your task force report, then you're reading a library journal.

Ha! Love it. I apparently just completed installation of a TI at my library.

#153 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:16 PM:

If a Transnistrian Infundibulator is precisely what's needed to generate the right mixture of tachyon particles to modulate the neutrino flux that's threatening to destroy the ship, it's a Star Trek TNG episode.

#154 ::: blnicol ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:24 PM:

If a Transnistrian Infundibulator is Easy to use! Now with new, improved ergonomic controls! has a Proven Low Complication Rate! and Helps You Get Your Patients Home Faster! and is accompanied by a photo of a smiling person in a hospital gown, it's the form of fiction known as a medical device catalog.

#155 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:39 PM:

153
Or it's something used in Sickbay, and it's probably ST:TOS.

#156 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2011, 11:51 PM:

Kevin Reid @143: "If TRANSNISTRIAN INFUNDIBULATOR INFUNDIBULATES YOUR TRANSNISTRITES, then it's an Internet meme."

Also true if all your Transnistrian Infundibulator belong to us.

#157 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 12:07 AM:

If we are all figments of the imagination of a Transnistrian Infundibulator, it's probably an undergraduate philosophy paper.

If not it's a novel by Philip K. Dick.

#158 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 12:46 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 157:

There's a difference?


If Transnistrian Infundibulator infundibulates you it's a retro-Soviet Union internet meme.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is used by little gray aliens to abduct people and probe them, it's a Whitley Strieber book.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator attains its peak ability to move and communicate through the Multiverse by navigating a maze, it's the long-lost 11th Amber book.

If money flows away from the Transnistrian Infundibulator, Yog might not like it.

If the Macguffin is in a superimposed state of existence/non-existence, it's Schrödinger's Transnistrian Infundibulator.

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:08 AM:

"This Transnistrian Infundibulator either is a sex toy or a floor-wax container."
- Garibaldi

#160 ::: mensley ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:38 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator was removed from the historical record and liturgy through a curiously efficient historical conspiracy within the Catholic Church and Other Secret Societies™, then it's a conspiracy theory novel.

#161 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:50 AM:

If it had a hundred pages of attachments of raquisition requiremnents attached it's a government Request for Proposal. If it has 800 pages of management discussion and cost bases and Statement of Work descriptions and Contractor Data Requirements List items and Data Identification Descriptions and progress report schedules and deliverable descriptions AND a one page Executive Summary, it's a proposal for developing a Transnistrian Infundibulator.

If there are three years of more document exchanges and court suits, it's a protested contract award....

#162 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:10 AM:

weatherglass@142: I was trying to come up with something relating to Hitherby, but failing. Thanks.

#163 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:17 AM:

Apologies to Paula @ #161:

If the TI came with an exploded view drawing followed by six pages of gibberish (two each in English, Spanish and French), it means SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.

#164 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:51 AM:

If discussion of the Transnistrian Infundibulator is embedded within a wide-ranging selection of literary/cultural/scientific references and puns, it's either a Making Light thread or a Robert Asprin novel.

#165 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:06 AM:

@ #139, Jim writes:

If anagramming Transnistrian Infundibulator proves beyond the shadow of a doubt...

Hmm.

Bastard Infiltration Ruins Nun.

Doesn't prove much.

Librarian Anoints Fund In Trust

Nope.

Sir Runstur in Tinfoil Bandana

We're getting somewhere! Now who's this Runstur guy?

#166 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:40 AM:

In the cabinet downstairs are three bottles of Transnistrian cognac. That is all.

#167 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:42 AM:

This relates directly to a discussion I was having recently about a popular Science Fiction game. The game is about investigating and fighting a Transnistrian Infundibulator, and some fans were irritated that the new evidence had been introduced, contradicting their previous theories about TIs.

I was forced to point out the following:

If the storyline is about a bunch of heroes gathering spaceships, laser guns, and cool-looking aliens in order to fight the monolithic evil of the Transnistrian Infundibulator, it's a Space Opera.

If the storyline is about gathering evidence to figure out how the Transnistrian Infundibulator works, and analyzing the implications for sentient life (while also occasionally shooting it with alien spaceship lasers, if you want) it's Science Fiction.

#168 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 05:05 AM:

The McGuffin of the play am I,
From past the Nistrian wastes I have been brought
Traded, stolen, lost and rediscovered
From ages past to this far Northern seat.
My power is to read the minds of men
Then drive them into some heroic path
Who otherwise would live out peaceful lives
Which wouldn't entertain or educate.
To sieve the maelstrom of conflicting thoughts
And then to render from the warring wants
A fusion, vision, unifying voice
Which, when projected back into their view
Will speak to them, and hence bring to the fore
Unconscious needs which must be soon addressed
in ways dramatic, for us all to watch.

The Prince comes, here's my chance in Elsinore:
Transnistrian Infundibulator.

#169 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 05:53 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator causes changes in sexual preferences, it's a thinly-veiled rewrite of homokaasu

#170 ::: GG ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 06:34 AM:

If TRANSNISTRIAN INFUNDIBULATOR is an all-caps code phrase used by a British government department to refer to an eldritch abomination which will be encountered and ultimately defeated by a civil service sysadmin in the third act, it's one of Charlie's. :)

#171 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 07:33 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator was bought on the cheap from Joe's Interstellar Junkyard, it's a Robert Sheckley novel and you must never, under any circumstances, switch it on.

#172 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 08:59 AM:

If the Transnistran Infundibulator is some mixture of plant, animal, or synthetic fibers, comes in a variety of solids, heathers or self-striping colors and is sold in 50 gram lots, it's a skein of wool.

On the other hand, if the Transnistrian Infundibulator is rated mellow, tangy, piquant, or extraspicy, and comes with a recommended needle size and a list of instructions liberally sprinkled with obscure abbreviations that only those in the know will understand, it's a pattern from the latest issue of Knitty.

#173 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 09:17 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is surrounded by beautiful young women with odd hair colours and chest measurements so large that they'd cause constant back pain in the real world, and those women by turns either abuse the Infundibulator or try to seduce it, it's a bad harem anime, or possibly a dating sim. (This is even more likely if one of the girls wears glasses and another is a tomboy.)

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is instead surrounded by beautiful and rather androgynous young men with improbable hair colours, it's either an otome game or a yaoi manga, depending on the gender of the Infundibulator.

#174 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 09:20 AM:

If doubtful Trinitarians ran inns, they'd be in a Peter S. Beagle novel.

#175 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 11:00 AM:

Elegant, Theophylact.

#176 ::: Brother Guy ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 11:01 AM:

I have an Infundibulator very much Transistrian
Of no low substance grown by man is it known to consistrian.
I've seen the lots of sci-fi plots. I'll quote their flops historical
from Argon's Eye to more of Gor, in order allegorical.
Those authors used to introduce their masters of profanity
to chase after McGuffins, fighting villains with inanity.
(About third acts in paperbacks I'm teeming with opinions
Of many cheesy planets populated with bright simians.)

So turn me loose, and let me choose an ever-useful writing meme.
I know the jargon "POV" and "POS." So in between
a cardboard hero, cardboard scene, and cardboard plot quite mystrian
I'll place my Infundibulator very much Transistrian.

#177 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 11:07 AM:

And Brother Guy wins an internet

#178 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 11:18 AM:

If I infundibulation all over my Transnistrian, YOMANK.

#179 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 11:42 AM:

If the crew of the Destiny has just found a suggestion in the ship's database that somewhere onboard there may well be a Transnistrian Infundibulator, well, you're never going to know for sure, because SyFy has canceled the damn show.

#180 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 12:24 PM:

If my Transnistrian infundibulates in the laboratory, she's probably distilling something. If plums are involved, then it's slivovitz.

If it can be translated as:
"The Transnistrian infundibulates,
And having infundibulated, Moves on;
Nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor thy tears wash a plum out of it",

then it's the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

#181 ::: Martin Owton ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 12:56 PM:

If the TI is the latest must-have household gadget then the Daily Mail says it causes cancer

#182 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:17 PM:

105 JoXn: "If the Transnistrian Infundibulator has been cursed and brings woe to all who lay eye or finger upon it, and the piece takes 5 hours to perform (intermissions extra), it's WAGNERIAN OPERA."

Please note: the Anna Russell analysis is much funnier, and doesn't really lose any of the plot - but it's better if you've seen the WAGNERIAN OPERA first.

Which led me to:
if, in Transnistria, the Infundibulator is a now-dysphemic term for lower anatomy, and the song:
- is racist or sexist, but funny, it's John Valby.
- is the above, but with Australians, it's Kevin Wilson (please note: if performed *in* Transnistria, the Australian requirement need not apply (warning: link NSFW)).
- is the above, but Canadian, it's MacLean and MacLean.
- is not funny, then it's not worth listening to (or it's ADC).

#183 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:19 PM:

for "Anna Russell Analysis is", read "A.R.A. will still be". I hate tenses.

#184 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:32 PM:

143 and 144, in combination, made me laugh hysterically with water in my mouth. Luckily nothing got on the keyboard.

#185 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:35 PM:

GG @170: Okay, that's going in the fourth Laundry novel.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:47 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a toy from the Future, it's a Lewis Padgett story.

#187 ::: Denny Lien ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:51 PM:

If the dialog involves complaints that "Hey, you got Transnistarian in my Infundibulator" to which the reply is, "Well, YOU got Infundibulator in my Transnistarian! it's an old tv commercial.

#188 ::: Denny Lien ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 01:55 PM:

If the title of the work is "Six New Ways to Turn On Your Transnistrian Infundibulator," and:

a. Diet, exercise, and flirty clothes are involved, it's an article in COSMOPOLITAN.

b. A wiring diagram is involved, it's an article in POPULAR MECHANIX.

c. Reports of tests involving different speeds, turning ratios, road conditions, etc. are involved, it's an article in CAR AND DRIVER.

d. Hints on playing the new character class "Traitor (Chaotic Neutral)" are involved, it's an article in THE DRAGON.

#189 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:40 PM:

Otter B @ 177

I found myself wondering whether Brother Guy @ 176's vow of poverty would allow him to keep the Internet which he has just won. But a quick scan of his View All By suggests that he might be allowed to hold on to it in order to support a school. (IANACL, it should be said.)

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:45 PM:

Brother Guy does indeed win an internet. Or six.

Hmm. Brother Guy...BG...does that really stand for Brother Guy, or is it code for Bene Gesserit?

It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:45 PM:

"Tonight, the MythBusters test the claim that you can make excellent vodka with the Transnistrian Infundibulator."

#192 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 02:58 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator can destroy planets, it's a space opera by Edmond Hamilton.
If the Transnistrian Infundibulator can save planets, it's a space opera by Jack Williamson.

#193 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Inspired slightly by Niall McAuley @168, and apologies to all who feel them owed ...

A wand'ring Transnistr'an I,
Infundibulated,
By spellcheck red lines hated,
But ubiquitous as pi.
McGuffins abound here,
Through every genre ranging
And to your whims a'changing
Throughout the Fluorosphere,
Throughout the Fluorosphere.

Are you in operatic mood?
Wagner was too.
Hiyatoho!
On Sondheim's high notes do you brood?
I'll do so too.
Hiyatoho, yataho ...

#194 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 03:07 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a black box with some electronics inside which may break some physical laws, and you are travelling across Iceland with MI6, the CIA and the KGB after you, then it may well be a Desmond Bagley thriller.

Having recently re-read almost every Dick Francis novel, I would like to say that not all of them involve a jockey getting involved with the Transnistrian Infundibulator. The main link is horse racing, so if a Transnistrian Infundibulator is transported beside some horses (Flying FInish) or the central character doesn't know he has it but gets clues in situations related to horse racing (various), then its Dick Francis novel.

#195 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 03:49 PM:

Denny Lien @ 188 ...
If the title of the work is "Six New Ways to Turn On Your Transnistrian Infundibulator,"

... if the title of the work is "The Six Laws of Transnistrian Infundibulators", it's about Business Management and Leadership

... if the title of the work is "The Twenty-One Habits of Highly Effective Transnistrian Infundibulators", it's either Business Management and Leadership or Self-Help

... if the title of the work is "Who stole my Transnistrian Infundibulator", it's still probably going to be filed under Business Management and Leadership.

#196 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 03:54 PM:

xeger @ 195:

Or it could be an article in Cosmopolitan.

#197 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:03 PM:

Dr. Psycho @ 58

If it involves pre-teen step brothers with a teenaged sister for a baby sitter and takes place during summer break, then you have the latest episode of "Phineas and Ferb"

#198 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:07 PM:

Ginger, #180: Don't you mean the Rubaiyat of Walter Carlos Williams?

#199 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:25 PM:

#188 ::: Denny Lien

"Six New Ways to Turn On Your Transnistrian Infundibulator,"
or if none of the above, it's a new book by Charles Yu,

#200 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 04:27 PM:

guthrie @ #194, Three cheers for the Desmond Bagley shoutout! He was a wonderful thriller/espionage writer who deserves more attention.

Hammond Innes wrote similar novels during the same period. He's also very good.

#201 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 05:37 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is six kilometers long, inhabited by 1.5 million beings, very intelligent and sarcastic, and named itself that, it is a Culture novel.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is being fought over by Soviet/East German and nearly-suicidally depressed drunk English spies, it's an early John le Carre novel.

If, however, it is being fought over by youngish, out-of-their depth idealists and agents of repressive government agencies (all countries allowed), it is a late John le Carre novel.

#202 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 06:00 PM:

There was a Transnistrian who
Was uncertain of just what to do
Both Mater and Pater
said "Infund'bulate her"
And now there's no stopping those two!

#203 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 06:27 PM:

Best Thread Ever!

#204 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 06:47 PM:

Guthrie @194 -- no, if the TI is the cause of the protagonist being severely beaten about 20 pages from the end of the book, then it's a Dick Francis novel.

Linkmeister @200 -- I suspect then that you'd like Geoffrey Jenkins as well.

#205 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 06:51 PM:

Tom #204 - or if he starts the story on crutches and gets beaten up in the first 20 pages, its also a Dick Francis novel. He really did like putting his characters at a disadvantage.

#206 ::: Martin Owton ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 06:56 PM:

If the TI is an experimental device owned by British Intelligence whose malfunction caused the death of Diana, Princess of Wales then it is a Daily Express article.

#207 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 07:26 PM:

As need not be stated, rule 34 applies to the Transnistrian Infundibulator.

#208 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 09:05 PM:

If it generates sonnets or plum poems or alternate lyrics for "possibly recognizable tunes," the Transnistrian Infundibulator is Making Light!

(hat tip to Debbie at 164, who got there before me!)

#209 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft #207: But since you did state it, that invokes rule 35!

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator sacrifices its wielder's soul and the readers' decency to make a pun, it may be in Simon Green's Nightside, and Walker will want a look at that, thank you....

#210 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 09:11 PM:

If clues to the origin of the T. I. are on the back of dollar bills, it's by Robert Anton Wilson, but if the T. I. makes time flow at different rates in different places, it's by Robert Charles Wilson.

Cadbury Moose at # 171: That got a laugh from me, and I haven't even read Sheckley since 1968.

Brother Guy at # 176: That one's a keeper.

#211 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 10:14 PM:

172
It might also be a color of yarn from one of the smaller yarn studios. (Alchemy or Unique Sheep, maybe?)

#212 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 10:15 PM:

PJ, 211: More likely the Sanguine Gryphon.

#213 ::: Cal Dunn ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 10:58 PM:

If it's a maze of twisty infundibulators, all transnistrian, then you are in a text adventure, and may be eaten by a grue.

#214 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2011, 11:19 PM:

212
Trying to imagine what it would look like....
Bronze with gold and green highlights?

#215 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 01:51 AM:

If you're finding five things you didn't know about Transnistrian Infundibulators, you're reading a Cracked article.

If a Transnistrian Infundibulator is found by Area Man, it's an Onion article.

#216 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 02:17 AM:

If it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a Transnistrian Infundibulator, one may opine that the author should have stopped after writing the version with zombies.

#217 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 03:57 AM:

@214 P J Evans

Yes, please.

#218 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 04:05 AM:

If the Transistrian Infundibulator is like a globe with a thousand faces, if it shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the Moon, if it was lost when a dragon drove its owners from their halls to make its lair, and now a band of their descendants are to travel to try and defeat the dragon and win it back (with some help from a large wizard and a small burglar), then that would be good, and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9.

#219 ::: GG ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 05:07 AM:

@207: Naturlich!

Transnistrian fanart selected
Was to Rule 34 re-subjected
Showing over-inflated
Infundibulators
All turgidly interconnected!

#220 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 06:28 AM:

Niall McAuley @ #218:

I managed to read that as "snail burglar" instead of "small" and was briefly amused by the thought of a large snail, sneaking into the Louvre, to stow the Mona Lisa inside its shell before leaving.

#221 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 07:27 AM:

World-famous left-handed wealthy albino playboy peg-leg malacologist Eric Grey slipped on a trail of mucus leading from the museum's Denon Wing. - The Transnistrian Infundibulator by Dan Brown.

#222 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 07:28 AM:

If the Transistrian Infundibulator appears in various forms in a variety of different authors' works (possibly in multiple literary genres) and yet is always referred to by the same name, it is almost certainly an in joke.

#223 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 07:47 AM:

220: "Did you get a good look at him?"
"Not really. It all happened so fast."

#224 ::: Denny Lien ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 09:49 AM:

If the text reads "Little Timmy has lost his Transistrian Infundibulator, but he can hear it crying for him! Can you show Timmy the path to find him?" it's a maze on the back of the placemats in the kiddy section of a fast food restaurant.

#225 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 10:26 AM:

#222: The Transnistrian Infundibulator is a louse!

#226 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 10:46 AM:

224
Lassie can find it, and rescue little Timmy, too!

#227 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 11:03 AM:

Not a Transnistrian Infundibulator, but Harry Potter Management Books seems relatedly apropos.

#228 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 11:08 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 225 ...
#222: The Transnistrian Infundibulator is a louse!

Hardly! The Transnistrian Infundibulator is for de-lousing...

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 11:49 AM:

Wasn't The Transnistrian Infundibulator" the title of a Doc Savage novel?

#230 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 12:03 PM:

"The Transnistrian Infundibulator is a fake," he said hollowly.

#231 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 12:28 PM:

I think "The Transnistrian Infundibulator" is the title of the Doc Savage novel "Se-Pah-Poo", which is named "Jiu San".

#232 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 12:36 PM:

P J Evans @ #226

What's that, Skippy, "Bruce has fallen into the Transnistrian Infundibulator"?
Crikey! That'll ruin the taste of the grog.

#233 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 01:19 PM:

Goofus attempts to operate the TI, with unfortunate results.

Gallant returns the TI virtually untouched to its owner.

--

#160 ::: mensley If the Transnistrian Infundibulator was removed from the historical record and liturgy through a curiously efficient historical conspiracy within the Catholic Church and Other Secret Societies™, then it's a conspiracy theory novel.

If, however, the Transnistrian Infundibulator was removed from history entirely, and no one can remember it existed, you will shortly be receiving an invoice from Dirk Gently.

--

If the TI's in a bottle with some paddle battling beetles and the bottle's on a poodle and the poodle's eating noodles, then some fox in blue woolen footwear is about to get his comeuppance.

--

#172 ::: Hilary Hertzoff If the Transnistran Infundibulator is some mixture of plant, animal, or synthetic fibers, comes in a variety of solids, heathers or self-striping colors and is sold in 50 gram lots, it's a skein of wool.

And if you wish to knit socks, you will need two such skeins, but only one card of Socka for heel and toe reinforcements.

#234 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 01:32 PM:

If the title of the work is "Six New Ways to Turn On Your Transnistrian Infundibulator," and:

...three of them involve slipping out the back, hopping on a bus, and dropping off the key, respectively, it's a Paul Simon song.

#235 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. Transnistrian Infundibulator. It's Fluorosphere!

#236 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 06:09 PM:

If transnistrian infundibulator is the binomial nomenclature for an obscure insect whose existence shows something about evolution that everyone SHOULD know, it's a Stephen J. Gould essay.

--Dave

#237 ::: Jenn Zuko ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 07:44 PM:

If you read the story about the party of adventurers questing for The Transnistrian Infundibulator and it's all written in second person, with "you" as the protagonist, and there are many choices at the end of each chapter as to which page to turn to for each, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.

#238 ::: Pam M ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 08:40 PM:

If is called the Night of the Transnistrian Infundibulator and it was invented to take over 19th century America, it's an episode of Wild Wild West.

If it appears in an English quarry and then tries to destroy London, it's an episode of Dr. Who.

If a starship captain talks it into destroying itself, it's Star Trek.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator will not harm a Human, or, by inaction, allow a Human to be harmed, it is really one of Asimov's robots, and Susan Calvin wants it back.

#239 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 10:01 PM:

Pam M @238:
If it appears in an English quarry and then tries to destroy London, it's an episode of Dr. Who.

More specifically, it's an episode of the classic Dr. Who. If, on the other hand, it appears out of a rupture in time and then tries to destroy the entire universe, past, present, and future, and/or Cardiff, it's from the new series.

#240 ::: Pam M ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 10:58 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is introduced in the 3rd episode, is dripping symbolism, and becomes important (but not in the way everyone expected) in the last episode of the season, it's Babylon 5.

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is used as an off-hand joke in the 2nd season, and then becomes a vital part of saving the world in the 4th season, it's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

#241 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2011, 11:22 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator allows you to go through solid matter and enter the Eighth Dimension, resulting in a combination of action, humor, and a wonderfully over-the-top John Lithgow, you'd better call Buckaroo Banzai.

#242 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 12:40 AM:

@238 If it appears in an English quarry and then tries to destroy London, it's an episode of Dr. Who.

Or of Quatermass

#243 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 03:02 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator provides those around it with a theme and invites them to supplement it with their own uniquely creative variations, it's "Ainulindalë".

...that, or it's one of these Making Light threads.

#244 ::: GG ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 03:50 AM:

@232: Roars of laughter!

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is an alien which looks suspiciously like it was constructed out of hairdryers and paint pots, or something served out of the BBC canteen, it's classic UK sci-fi.

#245 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 04:42 AM:

If you eventually return to the Transnistrian Infundibulator, introduced in an early section which preceded a detailed history of Infundibulator installation, following the heroic engineers who designed elevators that eventually, a Socratic dialog and an auction about passenger ratios later, would be used to move the Transnistrian Infundibulators up, the electricians with their power inverters, the exactly-centered Infundibulator placement which the protagonist, larger-than-life, learned in childhood, and which you, in reading, think Yes, I should learn that, although what you'll remember years later is that the window for perfect calamari is only 600 milliseconds wide, and that's after the reappearance of the antagonists, who were not exactly villains-- not at first-- but this still required the recapitulation of genomic sequencing technology development using a magnifying glass, a firestarter cube, and a package of playing cards, and you wonder to yourself "What was in the box, and will all these divergent clauses start to converge, because aren't there only seven words to go? then it's Neal Stephenson.

#246 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 05:50 AM:

If a dramatic space battle between two suspiciously Napoleonic fleets of warships is interrupted for a two-page infodump on the imaginary physics behind the Transistrian Infundibulator which one fleet is deploying for the first time as a game-changing surprise weapon, you're in an Honor Harrington novel.

#247 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 06:44 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator at first appears to be a machine serving humankind but is then revealed to be shaping its destiny, only to be defeated by a mental superman, it's a van Vogt novel.

#248 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 06:45 AM:

(athryn from Sunnyvale, I bow down before you.

#249 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 08:47 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator says LET THERE BE LIGHT, it's all over. Or just beginning.

#250 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:26 AM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 249 ...
If the Transnistrian Infundibulator says LET THERE BE LIGHT, it's all over. Or just beginning.

... or an Isaac Asimov short story.

#251 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 09:48 AM:

I'm still waiting to see how Tim Powers connects the Transnistarian Infundibulator, string theory, alcohol, wormholes, a zombie rock and roll band, and the shape of Roy Squires' beard. He doesn't write fast enough.

If the book featuring the Transnistarian Infundibulator is late enough that even the New Yorker has noticed that people are waiting for it, it's part of The Song of Ice and Fire.

#252 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 10:13 AM:

If you have to teach the Transnistrian Infundibulator phenomenology, it's an early John Carpenter/Dan O'Bannon collaboration.

#253 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 12:19 PM:

The Transnistrian Infundibulator should on no account be confused with the Turbo Encabulator (the latter uses imperial fasteners 5/16" British Standard Cycle left handed thread in the case of the nofer trunnion drive) and attempts to couple the two together will not end well.

Now where did I leave my non-Euclidian socket set?

#254 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 12:50 PM:

xeger @250, that's what I was aiming for!

#255 ::: Denny Lien ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 01:09 PM:

If all of the various fictonal Transnistrian Infundibulators listed above show up in the cast list, it's Alan Moore's THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY TRANSNISTRIAN INFUNDIBULATORS. (And the eventual movie version will still be terrible.)

#256 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 02:23 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is the recurring villain in a series of imaginary Hammer Horror movies, and the grandchild of the person who first put it on film is haunted by it while bicycling across an America where Tesla's ionosphere power transmission system was implemented, it might be Howard Waldrop.

#257 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 02:42 PM:

If there are more than six non-functional Transnistrian Infundibulators on blocks in your front yard, you might be a redneck...in an R.A. Lafferty story.

#258 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 11:01 PM:

If only a confused, lonely, whip-smart teenager on her first voyage realizes that the Transnistrian Infundibulator can help the captain negotiate with aliens who seem threatening but are actually just focused on their own political intrigues, it's a C.J. Cherryh Alliance/Union novel.

#259 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2011, 11:28 PM:

253
But surely it would need Whitworth bolts and screws!

#260 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:05 AM:

While waiting for people to arrive to watch Babylon 5 this evening, I watched the beginning of a new series on CBS called "Chaos", and the first episode is set in, believe it or not, Transnistria. Is Teresa psychic, or does she keep up with information about new TV series?

#261 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 06:55 AM:

P J Evans @ #259

But surely it would need Whitworth bolts and screws!

Only in Aluminium. (Whitworth designed his thread for cast iron and it's too coarse for most applications - ideal for softer materials like aluminium, etc. though.) When better alloys became available, a finer thread was needed, so they kept the Whitworth thread form but increased the pitch and called it BSF (British Standard Fine). Cycle thread is finer still, being used for high tensile strength materials (because you want your bicycle to be a light as possible).

Left-handed cycle thread was the most awkward one I could think of at the time. Taps and dies are readily available for most obsolescent threads, but left handed is usually "special order only".

The fourth law of thermodynamics definitely applies here.

#262 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 09:42 AM:

261
Left-handed monkey wrench arriving soon, with which to fix your internet.

#263 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:42 AM:

Cadbury Moose @261: Taps and dies are readily available for most obsolescent threads, but left handed is usually "special order only".

And it might get you branded a communist... oh, wait, that's a different thread.

#264 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 12:09 PM:

#253, etc.:

Indeed, the Transnistrian Infundibulator should not be confused with the turboencabulator, but if you're interested in working with both systems, or integration possibilities, you might find a kindred spirit or even technical advice over at VXJunkies.

#265 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Whilom there dwelt in Transnistrye
A manne of syens, in mind ful slye,
Who manye cunninge gizmoes wrought
And in between his scholars taught.
Their heddes filled he with lerninge greet,
And lerne they mought, lest they repeet!
The brightest stayed with him, and later
Design'd the Infandibulatour.

#266 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2011, 11:22 PM:

Kip W. wins the Internets for today.

#267 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 10:54 AM:

Ecce nunc inopinata
Infundibulatio
Quae Transnistrio procedit
Mirabilis organo;
Cantemus in vocis altis
"Alleluia" ideo.

--Venantius Fortunatus

#268 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 10:58 AM:

If the unearthed Transnistrian Infundibulator obviously is an alien device and, from a few flimsy bits of evidence, a scientist figures out everything about its makers, then it's a "Quatermass" movie.

#269 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 11:18 AM:

"Of all the infandibulation joints in all of Trans-Nistria, why'd she have to walk into mine?"

#270 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 11:33 AM:

*grr*

Mirabili organo.

Stupid ablative.

#271 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 12:29 PM:

"But there are no tigers in the Scottish highlands."
"Then that's no infundibulator."

#272 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 12:31 PM:

If an infundibulator distims in Transnistria, and there's nobody around to vasten it, does it make a skrell?

#273 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 02:33 PM:

That's no infundibulator, it's a space station!

#274 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 10:11 PM:

That was no lady, that was my infundibulator!

#275 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2011, 11:27 PM:

Take my infundibulator...please!

#276 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 05:10 AM:

M: ...they're out of season.
H: Does this mean we shall have to have pelican for dinner again?
M: I fear so.
H: Then I'll risk it! I'll shoot a Transnistrian Infundibulator out of season.

#277 ::: IreneD ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 07:11 AM:

Janni #55:
So in which genre does the woman get to be the one to invent or become the foremost authority on the Transnistrian Infundibulator herself?

Well... If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is a prototype of time travel machine constructed by a woman, it's a Doctor Who New Adventures novel. (OK, probably one written, or co-written, by Kate Orman.)

#278 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 07:40 AM:

If the woman turns out to be the Transnistrian Infundibulator, it's religious revelation.

#279 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 08:40 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is one of the components in the parts list of the Interociter, then it may be 'This Island Earth'.

#280 ::: Jean Lamb ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 09:05 PM:

If the TI is the source of a small town's wealth and bad guys ride in on horses and take it and a mysterious tough guy who refuses to give out his name comes in to save it while also killing all the bad guys in a shootout at the end, it's a western.

--And if it also involves lizards suing each other over water rights, it's the sequel to RANGO.

#281 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2011, 10:03 PM:

Are you sure it's not a samurai movie, Jean? I've seen many that had that particular plot.

#282 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 12:40 AM:

10 IF A$="Transnistrian Infundibulator" THEN PRINT "It's BASIC" ELSE GOTO 10

#283 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 03:02 AM:

Tom @ #281, well, maybe it's a samurai movie. If a group of mysterious strangers comes to save the town then it's a remake of an Akira Kurosawa classic.

#284 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 04:18 AM:

Or perhaps an animated movie about creepy crawlies.

#285 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2011, 05:00 AM:

IreneD @ #277:

Or by Ben Aaronovitch.

#286 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 01:05 PM:

I've been knitting infundibulators. They're turning out rather well. I'm now on my fifth.

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Or perhaps Roger Corman's "Battle Beyond the Stars"...

#288 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Teresa (286): Pictures?

(Is now a good time to confess that I originally thought you had made up both words?)

#289 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 03:57 PM:

Knit one, purl one, DESTROY EVERYONE.
Knit one, purl one...

#290 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 04:31 PM:

For a fun thing to do on an rainy Saturday afternoon, go to Google and search Google Images for "infundibulator."

(It will say, "Showing results for infundibular. Search instead for infundibulator." You will want to "Search instead." "Infundibular" will show you images suitable for one of my other posts.)

#291 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 07:25 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is assembled out of odds and ends which work together in wildly unlikely ways to achieve some useful purpose that could have been achieved with far less fuss, it's a Rube Goldberg device.

Unless it was assembled out of whatever odds and ends happened to be handy, using either paper clips or duct tape, in which case it's an episode of MacGyver.

#292 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 10:32 PM:

If the polarity is reversed, it becomes a Transnistrian Outfundibulator.

#293 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 10:32 PM:

If the Infundibulator does not fit, you must acquit.

#294 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2011, 11:01 PM:

292
I would have guessed exfundibulator. Or possibly abfundibulator.

#295 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 11:18 AM:

P J Evans (294): I vote for 'exfundibulator'. 'Abfundibulator' sounds like a hot new exercise equipment.

#296 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 09:53 PM:

If it infundibulated all day today, it was a TransnEasterIan Infundibulator.

#297 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2011, 10:08 PM:

See you later, Infundibulator!

#298 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2011, 09:08 AM:

(If infundibulator's effects persist for more than four hours, consult a metaphysician and/or quantum mechanic.)

#299 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Not interrociter,
Nor flux capacitor:
Just infundibulates
Morning and night

Readily, steadily,
Possibly deadily,
Fruit of Trans-Nistria;
Obscure delight.

#300 ::: Chuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2011, 05:36 PM:

@86; I think it's actually a TI-99/4a. I had one (as did several friends or family members) and the only place I can find reference to a TI 94/A is at the link you give. (And some other message boards with people who also don't seem to know what they're talking about.)

#301 ::: Zoochick ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2011, 02:54 AM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator involves Austria, wrestling and a bear, it's a John Irving novel.

If the race to disarm the TI involves the admiral exhibiting an uncharacteristic display of emotion, it's a Dirk Pitt novel by Clive Cussler.

If the TI results in the coming together of the protagonists after some 20 years of life apart, in a poignant yet restrained 'what might have been', it's a Kazuo Ishiguro novel.

#302 ::: G.C.Geddes ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2011, 03:33 AM:

Hey! Harry I hear you have the new Ubick Transnistrian Infundibulator. Yes Jim! and my conapt has never been so clean. It brings you bright shiny surfaces retards entropic decay and transient reality! Gosh! maybe I should get one. Safe to use, if the manufacturers instructions are followed too the letter.
P.K.Dick

#303 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2011, 03:38 PM:

If the Transnistrian Infundibulator is written about for 3,182 lines, and another Transnistrian Infundibulator which has nothing to do with the main one is introduced first, then it's an Anglo-Saxon epic.

#305 ::: Peter T ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:33 PM:

Give generously, and we can continue to save thousands of Transnistrians from infundibulation.

#306 ::: fidelio wonders: spam, or new neighbo ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:39 PM:

Forgive me, Peter T, if I judge you wrongly. This is an old thread, and it's your first post with that address.

On the other hand, you're on-topic, coherent, grammatically ept, and can spell. Any thoughts on popular entertainments you'd care to share on the appropriate threads?

#307 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 10:41 PM:

Oops! Either I'm encountering the locally popular posting error, or this tablet is not as user-friendly as I'm supposed to believe.

#308 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 11:03 PM:

Probably the locally-popular error, but that's really odd spam, unless it's one of the ones that copies from previous comments.

#309 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2014, 11:06 PM:

Actually, unless it's copied from elsewhere in this thread it's a perfectly valid riff on the previous discussion, and with luck we've got new blood. It really does fit the thread nicely.

ObPoetry?

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