Cage Match 2014: Round 1: Hal 9000 vs Baron Munchausen: Screen


The Contestants



HAL 9000: Screen
Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
Age: 9 at the time of Space Odyssey events
Race: Artificial intelligence
Weapons / Artifacts: Incredibly high intelligence
Full control of Discovery One spacecraft allows for numerous life-threatening modifications

Baron Munchausen: Screen
Rudolf Erich Raspe’s The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Age: Approx 37 at time of retirement from Russian Military
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: Warhorse, saber, cavalry musket, curiass (chestplate armor)
More improbable tricks, gadgets and special abilities than Bugs Bunny

The Breakdown


  • Cool and calculated
  • Possibly smarter than any human
  • Indifferent to human life

  • Coolness under fire
  • Gift of gab
  • Apparent immunity to the laws of physics

  • No physical form
  • Susceptible to logical contradictions
  • Doesn’t understand subtleties of human existence

  • Compulsive teller of tall tales
  • Overly self-confident
  • Limited knowledge of science and modern weaponry

  • TBD

  • TBD

How we think the fight will go

Allow me to recall a most awesome adventure that I do believe will amuse and astound you, my fine, disembodied spirit. HAL, is it? Yes? Your singular red eye is most charming, I must say.

You will undoubtedly recall my period of noble service in the campaign to drive the Ottoman Turk out of our land once and for all. The Turks were a most implacable enemy: Brave, and willing to go to almost any length to resist our efforts. It was during a cavalry charge on the field of valor that I witnessed the most egregious of their efforts.

One of our scouts had reported the presence of a bronze giant bearing a foul visage and a mouth as round and as deep as any well, and as wide as a great sea. The giant, the scout said, stood eighteen feet tall and wore a long top knot in the style of the East that dangled to his very feet. A phalanx of the bravest Turks attended the beast, gathering at its feet to feed it – and I beg your indulgence here, sirs and ladies – gunpowder and lead. A most fearsome site, indeed, but hardly a match for the resolve of your humble host.

Many of our men fled to the back of the company when the scout delivered this dire narrative. Formerly brave soldiers all, none of whom wished to fight a smoking metal giant. Defeating the beast fell upon my shoulders – a burden I gladly bore. I determined that I should charge in like the knights of old to face the bronze giant in single combat. It was not the first time I had done such a thing: You might recall my battle against the dragon in the hills of Normandy. No? Perhaps a tale for another time.

I called upon my men to deliver my saber and musket and I rode to meet my fate. My company begged me not to leave their side, proclaiming that the quality of their service might degrade without my superior leadership and stalwart example. I pledge to return and to bring the giant’s head back to create a grand cauldron. Reluctantly they left me to my devices.

Charging into the front lines of the Ottoman host was no easy task, but as you well know by now, I am not dissuaded by mere muskets and blades. Death is loathe to claim me, as he knows I might lead the dead against him and return to life once more. I once played a game of chess against the grim reaper; a dare I accepted from a curious fellow named Bergman. Do you wish to hear … Oh? Yes. The Turkish giant. Yes.

The bravest of the Ottoman cavalry rode against me, yet I turned them aside with ease. I grew tired of swinging my blade to and fro against my enemies, and I let it go for a short time. Such was its esteem for my puissant swordsmanship that it continued to fight all on its own. In short order, the cavalry broke and fled back into the ranks. The sword returned to my sheath and I continued forward.

It was at that time that I came face to face with the giant. Indeed, it was as the scout had described in all details, save for one: It was not a living thing, but an ornate cannon in the shape of a colossus. Its “mouth” was an opening for an enormous projective, a cannon ball the size of our own moon! Seeing me charging forth, the giant’s attendants lit the fuse that had been mistaken as a top knot, and the giant expelled forth its deadly artillery. Whereas other cannons fire their charges through the sky and into the enemy ranks, this cannon round was made to roll forth like a billiard ball to crush the enemy.

With the ball heading toward me, I did the only sensible thing I could do. I jumped upon it and rode it like one might do to break a particularly spirited horse. Sadly, as I did so, the ball struck a platter held by a cook who was serving the sultan. It bounced upward into the night sky, with me along for the ride. Striking the stars to and fro and back and forth, the cannon ball ricocheted through the sky until it landed me here upon this metal ship you call Discovery One. Through this way I arrived and made the pleasure of your acquaintance. As you can see, the cannon ball has finally come to a stop. You insist on referring to it as “Jupiter.”

I look forward to staying here for a very long while, and I have so many other stories to share. I am certain that you and the rest of the hardy crew of this ship will enjoy them.

Have I ever told you about the time I …

Your red light appears dim, HAL, and I am afraid that I must take offense at your suggestion of exaggeration and “logical errors.” I have another tale that will no doubt convince you that all is as I claim it to be. Why my tales – stories, I must add, that have entertained and enlightened thousands – might cause offense is beyond me. What is a “fatal error” anyway?

Your red light has gone dark, and I smell smoke. Perhaps you have stepped away to enjoy a cheroot in privacy? I look forward to continuing this most delightful exchange. In the meantime, I shall explore this marvelous vessel. Perhaps I will meet this “Dave” you mentioned. Do return soon!

Predicted Winner: Baron Munchausen

NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON Friday, March 14, 2014, AT 12:00 PM, EST

Check out all the Cage Match 2014 posts!

Editor’s Note: Matt Staggs has been obsessed with books his entire life.

Check out the the Bracket Reveal video here and the full bracket here!

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!”