Cage Match 2013 Round 1: General Woundwort vs. The Tripods


The Contestants


Click to view original image source


Click to view original image source

General Woundwort
Watership Down, by Richard Adams
Age: Approx. 7 years
Race: Lepine
Weapons / Artifacts: Sharp teeth and claws
Goes for the throat with one-inch incisors

War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells
Age: Unknown
Race: Martian
Weapons / Artifacts: Prehensile tentacles, heat ray, chemical weapon, red weed
Tentacles have blood-draining

The Breakdown


  • Speed/agility
  • Strong back legs
  • Element of surprise (no one expects much from a rabbit!)

  • Technologically superior

  • Arrogance
  • Blind in one eye

  • Vulnerable to microbial life

How we think the fight will go

For weeks the English countryside had been noisy with the crashing footsteps of human refugees. This was agitating to the local fauna, but the rabbits had seen the likes of human intruders. Then came the shining machines towering on three legs, but from a rabbit’s-eye view there was little to distinguish these from the great tractors and threshers of the field. It wasn’t until the red weed began creeping across the hillocks that the wildlife began to sense something was dangerously amiss. The thick red tendrils seemed to grow and thrive before your very eyes, throttling trees and smothering the meadows under a carpet of insidious, inedible fibers.

One morning Woundwort woke to stale air and darkness, the entrance to his burrow paved over in red weed. Chewing through the vile stuff was quite a challenge — the bits reacted in a peculiar way to his saliva, squirming between his teeth as if desperate to get inside, eager for the moisture. He spat and retched as he tore his way out, furious at the intrusion, but upon emerging he froze in place, his lips curling back over his teeth in disgust and utter incomprehension. It was not just the weed which had closed him in: the entire sky was missing. directly his head was a vast silvery-shadowed expanse, extending for many meters on either side. One of the great machines had chosen his territory as its roost, its telescoping legs enfolded within itself. For a terrifying instant it seemed to Woundwort as if the entire world had been blotted out by the tripod’s smooth, blank underside.

Strange — there was no growling engine, no smell of exhaust. Emboldened by the absence of a recognizably human threat, Woundwort prowled cautiously through the red weed, his ears attuned to the slightest vibration. With his one good eye, he could see the point up ahead where the shade broke and gave way to morning sunlight. His haunches tensed and then fired like pistons as he bolted for daylight, intent upon the copse of yew trees that awaited just beyond.

Just as he felt the sun on his face, there was a flickering from one side that caused the rabbit to spin in his tracks defensively, lowering his body to the ground and baring his ragged teeth. Adder! And a large one at that, must’ve been stretched out in the tall grass — amazing that he hadn’t already been bitten. They were not terribly dangerous, avoiding conflict at all cost, but all the same you didn’t want to stumble right over them.

But as the thing flexed and uncoiled before him, Woundwort realized with amazement that it was no adder after all. Its long, segmented body ended not in a blunted snout, but in a sharp taper which gleamed metallic in the sun.

Something parted the grass behind him, and he whirled to see a second tentacle whickering toward him, cutting off his retreat. He bounded to meet it head-on, knowing better than to attack in the middle and leave the “head” free to snap back and bite. If he could lure it into striking at him, Woundwort knew he could seize it by the neck and snap its spine in his jaws.

He was interrupted mid-pounce by a strange constricting grip that around his belly that pulled hi, up, up and away from the ground. He twisted and bucked in the tentacle’s grip, disoriented and full of wrath. Doubling over, he sunk both front teeth into his assailant all the way to the gumline. There was no blood, no taste, no feeling of any kind — it was as indifferent to his teeth as the earth was was to being scooped by his claws. He heard a dreadful scraping noise as it drew him toward the belly of the strange craft, and then all was darkness.

Its tentacles fully regathered back into its body, the tripod rose on its telescopic columns. Earth’s lesser species were not a priority on this mission, but the more aggressive samples were always of interes. The funny long-eared thing now stored in the tripod’s bioducts would provide plenty of wonder and amusement to those back on Martian soil.

Predicted Winner: Tripods


Check out the 2013 Bracket

Check all previous Cage Match 2013 posts

General Woundwort is a character from Watership Down by Richard Adams; Tripods are characters from War of the Worlds H.G. Wells.

General Woundwort  image courtesy of Warner Bros. Tripods image DalekMercy.

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”


  • Brettish

    General Woundwort for the win! Tripod steps in a rabbit hole and it’s murder she wrote. You know what is better than 3 legs? 4.

  • rae

    Yes, the Tripod captures him… and then he sneezes and the aliens all die of microbial infections.

  • jeanine

    Every single match seems to have contestants of male authors. I get Suvudu’s hint :; females not wanted or required. Am unsubscribing as you “guys” want.

  • Jeanine, I hadn’t noticed how many of the books’ authors were male. until you mentioned it. I suppose that the pool of books determined to be “classics” of literature skews mostly mail because of the unfortunate sexual politics of earlier eras. I agree that it would have been nice to see more female authors included.

    However, many of the characters featured are female, and many of the posts for this contest are written by women. My question for you is: how does that translate as “females not wanted or required”?

  • Thomas

    @ Jeanine: I think that’s rather an overreaction, especially considering the extremely low number of female spec fic authors prior to the last forty years or so. That’s just what this genre has been saddled with in terms of history. There have been plenty of female authors represented in previous matches, however, and there are female characters in this tournament. And females doing these write-ups, as an earlier Tom pointed out. Finally…this is a tournament about characters, not authors. Given that there’s something of a dearth of “classic” fantasy written by females, does it really matter THAT much who wrote the story, or what organs they happened to have? I mean, I’m pretty sure few people even thought about the sexes of the authors. Are you really so fixated on gender issues that your first thought on seeing a beloved, iconic character is to check if he or she was dreamt up by a woman?

  • Alex

    As much as I appreciate the small guys in these line-ups, (I was an ardent supporter for Martin the Warrior in 2011’s match) Woundwort has nothing on mechanical creatures of the level that the Martian tripods have.

  • Tom and Thomas summed up my thoughts exactly.

    But on further note, when we were brainstorming characters, I couldn’t help but notice the alarming lack of female characters suited for battle in classic lit (and lamented the fact), but we can’t control the sexual politics of earlier eras. Still, we did find female combatants—and we have a very diverse crowd of both male and female staffers. I’m not sure that much more could be done in terms of fair representation, so I’m sorry to hear that this year’s theme struck you as female-hostile.

    That said: Can we all have a somber moment of silence for General Woundwort? Ah poor fleshy rabbit, we hardly knew ye.

  • Nicholas Penner

    @Alex: here, here. I was really rooting for Martin in 2011 too.

    But anyway, this match up is just stupid. It. Is. Stupid. Suvudu. You guys put a freaking rabbit up against giant alien machines with big ray guns? I am very dissapointed in you guys, Suvudu, very. No matter how awesome or strong of a rabbit Woundwort is, he is still just a rabbit. How would he have even beaten one of the lone alien scouts? The only way was for Woundwort to spread some sort of mangy disease on the aliens, but even then he would be long dead before them.

    Suvudu, you should have pitted Woundword against Tock.

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