I've got a contest! No, actually, I've got a scam. But as far as you are concerned, it's every bit as good as a contest. It costs you no money whatsoever to enter, and if you win you get a prize.
Let me explain:
It's not exactly a secret that I'm in the final throes of writing a novel about the adventures of Postutopian con-men extraordinaire Darger and Surplus. The world I created for them (highly advanced in the biosciences, sensibly terrified of anything electronic) is entertaining but cruel. In their first adventure, "The Dog Said Bow-Wow," I established that the rich have servants called autistics, who are obedient and completely without affect and whose cheap virtue is that you can do anything you want in front of them and they don't care and won't react. Essentially, they have neither personality nor sense of self.
Nobody's ever complained about these characters being called "autistics." But that's largely because the readership for short fiction is small, sophisticated, and surprisingly tolerant. If I use the term in a novel, I'm sure to get letters from people who are, for good and possibly even heartbreaking reasons, genuinely offended and/or hurt by the usage.
And, to tell you the truth, I'm not exactly crazy about it myself.
Nevertheless, I want to keep the servants -- they have a small but significant role to play in the novel. So they need a new name.
Here's my challenge: Come up with a new name for my novel's "autistics." Something that suggests their inverted and impersonal nature.
And here's the prize: If I use your suggestion, I'll give you an autographed copy of the Darger and Surplus novel when it comes out. Even better, I'll make it the second copy of it I receive. (The first copy is for waving around at conventions.) I'll even guarantee to make it the first autographed copy ever. Plus I'll put your name in the acknowledgments. Unless you'd rather remain anonymous, of course.
What makes this a particularly good deal is that you're writing for publication. The winner can look at the book's price and claim that's how much she or he routinely gets paid per word.
You can post your suggestion(s) here or after any subsequent blog entry. I'll read 'em all. As soon as somebody comes up with le neologism juste, I'll proclaim the fact in the next day's blog.
Above: Today's mail. An old pal sent me cigars.