Note from Doc Talos author/contest judge Paul Sardanas: Maxine Vega is an old friend from my days of writing dark poetry that appeared all over the odder corners of the web and in obscure SF anthologies…to my mind, her own poetic talent far eclipses mine. When I told her I was running a fan fiction contest for the Doc Talos saga, to my surprise, she said she wanted in. Seriously? A devotee of the SF/Horror side of the genre, Maxine knew very little about Doc Savage and his literary pastiches (including mine). She said to send her the most terrifying Doc Savage novel I could think of, and she would write a Talos poem based on it. Without hesitation, I sent her the final novel of the original pulps, an electronic scan of Up From Earth’s Center. Her passionate, emotional/psychological take on it, transferred from the Savage into the Doc Talos world, is undoubtedly one of the most unique — and powerful — creations this contest will produce.
Comment from poet Maxine Vega: A strange and fascinating story, it set off a whole chain of disturbing emotions in me…to wit, about how broken even the most outwardly-together among us may be beneath the veneer, and what Hell might look like to someone who struggles with intimacy. That the original story references the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám also got my immediate attention, and led me straight onward (or downward, toward the infernal regions) into Dante. I picked the photo image R. Paul used to decorate the poem, a Rodin. Maybe, in a way, we are all locked in stone and yearning to be free from some form of Hell.