Discuss Avek, Who Is Distributed by Steven Peck

AMV hosts a discussion of Steven Peck’s 22nd century Mormon story Avek, Who Is Distributed as part of the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest.

Wm says: I’m pleased to host a discussion of the penultimate story in the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest. Here’s a guest post from the contest organizers to help us kick things off:

You may have heard of the “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories” contest before, or even smelled its aroma rising out of Minnesota, the Middle East, or Pleasant Grove. If you haven’t, the conceit is simple: we’re featuring very short stories about Mormons in the 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd centuries, then holding a vote for the best of our twelve finalists and giving $400 to the winner. We’re also holding a blog tour of discussions, bring the people to the stories and the stories to the people. Or something like that.

Seriously: if you haven’t read these stories, take half an hour to catch up. Or at least take three minutes to read Steven Peck’s “Avek, Who Is Distributed” and discuss it today and one of the world’s oldest Mormon arts & culture blogs.

Some questions:

  1. What are your initial reactions to the story?
  2. How much would you pay for a StraythoughtAssist device?
  3. What role might all the Mormon Literature ever written have played in Avek’s intense desire to join the Mormon panth
  4. If you could have lunch with Avek, what questions would you ask him? And what drink would you order?

A poll for those entering Everyday Mormon Writer’s upcoming contest

With just over 10 days left to enter Everyday Mormon Writer’s , I thought I’d see if we can get a sense of which centuries AMVers are focusing on. If you have entered or are planning on entering the contest, please answer the following question.

If you have no idea what I’m taking about, read my interview with James Goldberg on the contest. Or click the link in the first sentence of this post.

Full disclosure: I have entered the 20th, 21st and 22nd century contests.

[poll id=”8″]

Wm and James talk the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest

By now, most AMV readers are likely (and hopefully) familiar with the contest. And many have probably also read the James Goldberg self-interview at or  his guest post at Modern Mormon Men or his reasons behind running the contest Dawning of a Brighter Day. All good stuff. But seeing as there were still important gaps to be filled — in particular for those who intend to submit — James and I concocted the following conversation. Enjoy!

So James, exactly how good is your paneer masala? And will it be served with rice or naan?

Our paneer masala produces a feeling of elevated well-being and sensory satisfaction that could drive drug cartels out of business. It will be served with both roti and basmati rice, after two courses of appetizers, along with two other dishes and a cool drink of mango lassi, and before a gulab jamun dessert. When it comes to cooking, we don’t mess around.

We don’t mess around with guests of honor, either. If Eric James Stone is not coming up with an alternate system of evolution from another world, he’ll be imagining myths that men might carry (or that might carry men) across the stars. Meanwhile, Mel Larsen will be immersing herself in another culture, showing you how the things people take for granted show where they come from and who they are.

Obviously, we’d love more dinner ticket money in the prize purse. But the dinners are also opportunities to bring together people with healthy appetites and voracious imaginations. We hope an AMV reader or two can join us for what I’m confident will be two incredible evenings. Continue reading “Wm and James talk the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest”

Please vote in the Mormon Lit Blitz

All 13 Mormon Lit Blitz finalists have been posted and voting is now open. Please do read the finalists (if you haven’t already) and cast your vote, which involves selecting your top five favorites and ranking them.

Note that I’m not asking you to vote for my story. I’m much more interested in the friends of AMV actually reading each of the pieces and making aesthetic and/or emotional choices. I think the experience of doing so is much more interesting and valuable than whatever the final results might be. Besides I already have most (perhaps all) of the works that will be loaded on to the Kindle. So please do take the time to vote. This is one of the best things to happen in Mormon letters, and I’d like to see it be a success.


A preview of my Mormon Lit Blitz contest entries

Read them and despair fellow Mormon Lit Blitz contest entrants. Wm eats your puny entries for breakfast. Behold: Zombie Porter Rockwell sniffed the air. etc. etc.

Read them and weep, people. I’m so winning that Kindle

Entry one:

Zombie Porter Rockwell sniffed the air. The smell of singed hair slowly triggered the synapses in his decaying brain. He needed brains soon. But he had business to take care of first. He was on the trail of Cain, and this time, he was going to take the hairy wanderer out.

He jiggled the tank strapped to his chest. It sloshed reassuringly — still at least half full. His bulbous, unblinking eyes scanned the dessert. Cain had managed to survive P-Rock’s trap, but little did the large-footed fellow know that fire, which was his only weakness, was now portable. Zombie Porter sniffed the air again and fell into a jerky, but surprisingly fast lope. It was bbq time and [MORE]

Entry two:

The rain always made her sad. It reminded her of her grandmother. It also reminded her of her dead husband. And that cat she had had for two weeks in seventh grade. The rain was coming down in sheets now. It made her feel like the world was crying. She was crying too. But even though she was crying, she knew that she was not alone. The footprints in the sand were not hers. The battered violin that was her soul could still produce a beautiful tune in the master’s hands. So she decided to cheer herself up by firing up her Provo Craft cricut and breaking out her brand new six-inch by 13-inch Cuttlebug Cutting Mats. [MORE]

Entry three:

Truth was a complex, ever-evolving thing for an educated man like Walter C. Habermavinaseiggeridastraullard. Nuance was his watchword. Context his Title of Liberty. Which was why he spent so much time commenting on blogs.

Walter loved his fellow Saints with a pure love, but he also knew that too many of them were in danger of having their simplistic testimonies fall to pieces at the slightest breeze of opposition, the tiniest crack in the correlated shell. In short, they were in need of maturation, and it was up to him to be the sunshine, the water and the soil — not to mention also taking the role of the fertilizer, the pruner and the grafter. [MORE]

(Obviously these aren’t really my entries. Revealing the real ones would be against the rules. Also: you have two weeks to polish up your entries and get them in.)

A Mormon Lit Blitz plea

A guest post from Scott Hales explores common reactions to Mormon fiction and makes a plea for submissions that depict contemporary Mormon life.

Wm says: Scott asked me to post this. I was loathe to do so because I’m going to enter the contest so why would I want more competition? But I have a reputation of magnanimity to uphold so here it is…

A New Plea for Fiction

by Scott Hales

The other day, I posted on Facebook that the publication agreement for a review I wrote of Angela Hallstrom’s Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction had come in the mail. Among the comments that followed was one that suggested the book should have been called Latter-day Fiction: Disposable.

Now, I doubt the guy who made the comment had ever read the book–even though I know he’s no stranger to Mormon studies. More likely, his comment sprang from the common misconception among Mormons–and we all know it’s there–that fiction written by Latter-day Saints about Latter-day Saints and for Latter-day Saints isn’t worth reading. Not by anyone over the age of fourteen, at least. And even then, it’s still disposable. Continue reading “A Mormon Lit Blitz plea”

The Mormon Lit Blitz Contest: show us your best 1k words

AMV reminds its readers to get writing for the Mormon Lit Blitz Contest, which we endorse although we aren’t official sponsors.

Wm– Although not an official sponsor, AMV is definitely on board with concept of the Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest, and we are happy to promote it. Ya’ll should enter. I daresay some of us AMVers or friends of AMV will be doing so. It’s only 1,000 words!


Now announcing the first ever Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest organized by James Goldberg and Scott Hales. Send up to three submissions by 15 January, 2012 to mormonlitblitz@gmail.com for a chance to win a Kindle and more.

What we want:
Short work for Mormons to be published and read online. Continue reading “The Mormon Lit Blitz Contest: show us your best 1k words”

Bedlamites contest winner: Heather’s entry

Here is Heather Harper’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.


Claim: A group of men, chosen by Satan and made immortal to do
his work on Earth, attack and/or seduce the unwary.

Status: FALSE

Example (collected from the internet): “Holy cow, you guys, the
Bedlamites are REAL!  My roommate’s cousin was visiting and shared
this warning from her Stake President. Last weekend, he was driving
by Yosemite National Park when his tire blew out. While he was trying
to fix it, three men stopped and asked if he needed help. When he
said “yes,” they laughed at him. Then one took out a gun and shot a
hole in one of the other tires. He protested and another took his
tire iron and smashed in his headlights! They were really getting
nasty; they even started hitting him! Thank God he was wearing his
garments. When his clothes got ripped the holy glow from his garments
burned their hands and they dropped their weapons and ran. They MUST
have been Bedlamites! So everyone remember, always be on your guard

Origins: The so-called “Silver Plates,” revealed by Latter-Day Saint
“prophetess” Dinah Kirkham in 1843 include the story of a city called
Bedlam. According to the story, Bedlam was a wicked city on par with
Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible and, like them, was destroyed for
it. The only “sin” specifically mentioned is that of “un-charity.”
Though what precisely is meant by that is unclear, popular belief has
been that the Bedlamites lived the Law of the Jungle, going so far as
to murder the sick and elderly.

A series of suspicious events and sightings in Utah in the 1850’s,
coupled with a disputable reading of Elisa 11:7, have given rise to
the folk belief that there is a group of men who, like the Three
Nephites, have had their lives supernaturally extended. The
difference is that the Three Nephites are supposed to have had their
lives extended by God in order to bring souls to him, whereas the
Bedlamites are survivors of the destruction of Bedlam whose lives have
been extended by Satan to sow fear and pain and in general do evil.
In the usual fashion of folklore, no one credible can be found who
claims to have actually encountered the Bedlamites. It’s almost
always someone’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.
Also, given the nature of these encounters, it is difficult to assign
supernatural origins to what is most likely plain old human nature.
The temptation to blame events like the Mountain Meadows Massacre on
“the Devil” must be strong, but which is more likely: a posse of
anti-angels or a gang of human thugs?

Heather “silver plates sound hard to keep clean” Harper

Last Updated:
13 April 2011



Bedlamites contest winner: Adam’s entry

Here is Adam K. K. Figueira’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.

For months now, reports have been circulating online of the discovery of a document attributed to Emma Smith discussing certain passages from the Book of Lehi, which of course was written on the 116 manuscript pages infamously lost by Martin Harris. In the letter, Sister Smith mentions a conversation she had with her husband, the Prophet Joseph, regarding the work that he was translating. Apparently she was intrigued by Joseph’s description of certain happenings shortly after the arrival of Lehi’s family in the Promised Land, and referred to these events in her document, which is most likely a journal entry as it seems to have no specific intended recipient.

The story in question is of one Beidl, described in the ancient record as a short, dark, exceedingly round being who entered the camp of the Lehites on an evening. After attracting Laman’s attention, Beidl led a small party back to his home, which was in a “great hole in the rocks” located “a long distance” inland of the camp. Beidl had seemingly been cut off from his people somehow, but his strange language made it impossible for the children of Lehi to understand exactly how.

According to Emma’s report, the Book of Lehi ends by mentioning the marriage of Beidl to one of Laman’s daughters, and Emma speculates that the union with this strange personage may have been the beginning of the curse which plagued the Lamanites ever after.

After finishing her summary of the scriptural account, Emma mentions that during their conversation on the topic, Joseph told her of a vision in which he saw the history of Beidl and Laman. He described Beidl as a “grotesque person with an unusually large nose,” and told of a split among the children of Beidl and Laman, in which the majority stayed with the newly formed group thereafter known as Lamanites, while the remainder, who had inherited Beidl’s unfortunate facial characteristics, went their own way back to the great hole and were referred to generally as Beidlamites.

But all this is old. The exciting new news has only come in the last few hours.

Latter-day Saint archaeologist Moab Young has discovered what he describes as a “Beidl-like” skeleton in the region of Neuquén, Argentina, near the site of the unlisted El Sauce crater. El Sauce, a 20 km wide hole in the ground of unknown age, has been generally thought to be an impact crater, but a lack of convincing evidence for this theory has kept it off the official Earth Impact Database list.

Young’s theory is that El Sauce is, in fact, the “great hole in the rocks” mentioned by Emma Smith and that far from being impact related, the crater is the collapsed entrance to the subterranean home world of Beidl and his mole-man ancestors. The close proximity of the Beidlamites hole to the original Lehite camp suggests that the original landing site may have been much further south than generally thought.

NOTE: Adam has also created a magazine-style version of the story complete with images.

Monsters & Mormons: Bedlamites contest winners

Many thanks to all who entered the Bedlamites contest. Theric and I have each selected a winner. Congratulations to Heather  Harper and Adam K. K. Figueira! You each win an electronic copy of the Monsters & Mormons anthology as well as fame, honor and glory. In fact, we’ve written awards citations for you. But first two notes:

1. This won’t be the only Monsters & Mormons contest. There will be more chances to win as the publication date draws near.

2. Many thanks to our other entrants. We will be featuring your entries here at AMV in the coming weeks. And to quote Th:

I must say that the overall quality of submissions made this the most fun I’ve had today. (Of course, I’ve also been stuck at a car dealership all day over a steering recall. The competition isn’t fierce. But don’t let that subtract from my enthusiasm.)

A Snopes entry? Brilliant idea! The Book of Asherah? Give me more! Little green Bedlamites of Mars? Why not?

Thank you so much, everyone who contributed. I have so many of you tied for second place that I can hardly bear it.

Wm adds: Yes, thank you. Of course, me being the cruel, cruel man that I am — I can bear it. So I’m holding the line at our two winners. Sorry. More chances to win later.

Th.’s Award Citation for Adam:

This story felt so much like a real news article I kept googling some of its elements to see if at least this part were real. The story came together with the right mix of deadpan journalistic earnestness and ennui that I think there’s a solid chance you could pull this hoax off and make people believe it for a while. The way he casually brings in Book of Mormon-geography theory and other elements serve to ground his new tale in already existing crazy and the whole thing comes together in way that feels both blandly real and exotically aesthetic. Which is a long-winded way of saying I like it a lot.

Wm’s Award Citation for Heather:

Nothing quite captures the tone of internet discourse like Snopes — informed, authoritative, footnoted, drily witty, often irreverent or condescending, and sometimes goofy. And Heather packs those qualities in there with her amusing yet almost truthy enough to be real fake Snopes entry. Heather won me over not only with her notion of Bedlamites as a reverse Three Nephites, but by getting the details just so — the fake URLs, the silver plates, the references. Besides what could be more hilariously delightful than debunking something that isn’t real in the first place?

The winning entires will be posted in the coming days. Monsters & Mormons is still in the editing phase. More updates as progress warrants.