TUSKERS – A Synopsis
John Janovy, Jr.
science fiction. The story takes place on the day of a football game between
Arly Hockrood is the evil force in this story; his hatred for the Tuskers knows no bounds. The origin of this hatred and disdain is explained as backstory. The other main characters include Marvin, Hockrood’s valet, chauffeur, and helicopter pilot; Jack Alexander, one of Hockrood’s corn slime salesmen and ardent football fan; Suzi Alexander, Jack’s wife, a highly intelligent woman who, as a child, loved mammoths and now studies Archie continuously (learning about football as a by-product!); Nancy Robbins, one of Jack’s former girlfriends and now the mother of Charlie Robbins, the finest tuba player in the Nebraska Marching Band; West Edmond Wilcox, the Oklahoma coach, Billy Boy Peebles, the Nebraska coach and his staff—“Slammin’” Sam Bangham (defensive coordinator) and Mort Flint (academic adviser)—and various players, especially Tyreese “The Fleece” Henderson, the greatest cornerback in the history of college football and, of course, a uniquely talented OU backfield.
TUSKERS opens with Jack Alexander’s alarm waking him, and
Suzi’s waking her, on the morning of this Game of the Decade. Over the next few
chapters we learn about how the characters came to play their various roles,
their motivations, and their hopes and dreams. Hockrood is a despicable person;
his character is established by his conversation, which is a constant stream of
four-letter language, expressing disdain for everything Nebraskan and devising
every way he can to help OU from his elegant sky-box in Nebraska’s Memorial
Stadium. Jack Alexander is the model for an off-the-scale football fan,
obsessed with winning and a nervous wreck in anticipation of this game. Suzi is
all brains, in fact, she’s the brains of the entire
story. As TUSKERS unfolds, we see this game from the perspectives of all these
characters, end up at a wild party in the Tusker Inn Hotel, ride with Hockrood
and Marvin to the game in his helicopter, visit the locker rooms, and finally
sit through the game. In the end,
Violence in TUSKERS is about what you’d see during a typical college football game; there is no sex although descriptions of clothing and behavior are used to establish character and scenes, and some of this use is about as suggestive as anything you’d see on prime time television (or at a game, especially in late August); some of the language is four-letter, although it is used only for the purpose of establishing character, thus is completely in character.
TUSKERS not only is science fiction, it also is satire, exploring the American obsession with football as a national sport as the world experiences global climate change, political turmoil, and accelerating technological advance. In the end, the book is not so much about sport as it is about our preoccupation with sport as a displacement behavior in a world that is changing so rapidly we cannot control it.
John Janovy, Jr. is a biological scientist, and sports fan(!), at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has written numerous books, including the leading textbook in his discipline, and nearly a hundred scientific papers, a nationally-televised screenplay, and a software package (see the first web site below). He is winner of the UNL Distinguished Teaching Award and Outstanding Research and Creativity Award. TUSKERS is based on a conversation with a friend during a trip to western Nebraska, a conversation about the state’s constant preoccupation with winning football as a source of our sense of self-worth. Janovy’s web sites and contact are:
The copyright for TUSKERS has been filed with the US Copyright Office and a requisite electronic copy of both the manuscript and a screenplay derived from it have been deposited.