Round 1: Agatha Christie vs Ursula K. Le Guin

Agatha Christie

Special attack: A sudden plot twist

Advantages

  • Best-selling novelist of all time
  • Expert in murder technique and investigation

Disadvantages

  • Over-fondness for dramatics
  • Secretly hates her most popular character

Ursula K. Le Guin

Special attack: The magic of Earthsea and the knowledge of Hain

Advantages

  • Prodigiously award-winning sci-fi legend
  • Wrote about boy wizards before it was cool

Disadvantages

  • Pacifist
  • Requires regular protest breaks

 

How we think it’d play out…

 

The drawing room hummed with the murmurs of the household staff, and as Agatha Christie entered she discovered why; lying on the floor by the chaise longue was a small man with a curled moustache, a pink-tipped nose and a perfectly egg-shaped head. As she neared, she noticed that around the man’s immaculately pressed waistcoat a pool of blood was forming. She gasped.

“My greatest character!” she cried, “Who would do such a thing?!”

The crowd parted, and Ursula K. Le Guin stood over the body.

“Dark times, Agatha. There is a murderer among us. But where light is extinguished, another must be shone to light the way.”

Agatha blinked, confused, and then shook her head. She was the expert here! She turned to face the butler. “Wilfred! You’ve been acting strangely for weeks. I don’t think it’s any secret that you had it in for Monsieur Poirot! Come on! Out with it!”

The butler coughed, and muttered to her quietly “I started yesterday, madam… I’ve never seen this man before.”

Unperturbed, she wheeled round to the next available onlooker, a girl from the kitchens who was quietly sobbing into a handkerchief.

“You there! Girl! I think we can all agree that you had the means to kill this man! All you had to do was slip a vial of poison into his tea. Oh-ho! A fine crime indeed, but I sniffed you out!”

As the girl dissolved into hysterics and ran from the room, Wilfred leaned forward again. “Monsieur Poirot has been stabbed, ma’am. Unfortunately for him, he had not the chance to take his evening tea first.”

“Oh. Well…” Agatha cast her eye around the room, and landed on Ursula, who stood with an expression of solemn serenity. “Ah yes, of course… who else would have something to gain from killing off one of my primary characters? My rival in battle and in publishing!”

“We are hardly literary rivals, my dear,” Ursula spoke, her eyes as calm as an ocean, as steady as mountains rising from the chaotic valleys of her antagoniser’s frantic words. “Your formulaic narrative pleases the public, but can it please your imagination? To live in a mind of murder as you do, you must first murder your mind.”

“Oh, stop it! At least I have an audience! I haven’t been reduced to-“ she hissed “-soft science fiction.”

The room gasped as one. Ursula gave a half smile. “You cannot raise my temper, Agatha. I’m a Taoist. The only path to life is life itself; the bird cannot fly if the air around it weighs heavy.”

Agatha stared at her, open-mouthed, struggling to form a response. She gave up, and returned to what she knew.

“EXACTLY! Because, you see, none of you could have murdered this man! The real killer was…!” She paused for what she hoped was a suitably dramatic amount of time, then thrust a finger at the man who had just stepped into the room. “Detective Inspector Westmacott!”

Everybody gasped again. Agatha allowed herself a small smile before adjusting her robe and continuing “Yes, Westmacott, YOU are the man responsible for this crime!”

“Excuse me, Ms. Christie? I just got here. In fact, you are the primary suspect in this case. There are witnesses lining up down at the station to tell me how much you disliked the man. Hang on, I think I have it in my notes here… ‘detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep’ – sound familiar?”

“But-! I…!”

“No need, Ms. Christie. We can deal with this down at the station. Come along.”

As she was guided to the door, Ursula looked on – and when the coast was clear, she took the sword of Erreth-Akbe out from under the armoire, and replaced it on the suit of armour standing at the window.

PREDICTED WINNER: URSULA K. LE GUIN

 

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