Cage Match 2018: Creature Feature

Round 1

Pennywise vs Shelob







  • Age:
  • Species: Malevolent eldritch being
  • Weapons: Ability to shapeshift into any form, Unrivaled psychic powers
  • Special Attack: Becoming your greatest fear


  • Invulnerability
  • Telekinesis, mind control
  • Deadlights


  • Not invincible
  • Lies dormant for around 27 years at a time
Cover art for the book It by Stephen King


By Stephen King


  • Age: Pre-dates the Age of Man
  • Species: Great Spider, last daughter of Ungoliant
  • Weapons: Paralyzing venom, Near-inescapable web
  • Special Attack: Venom sting


  • Very fast
  • Can see in the dark
  • Is a giant, horrifying spider-creature, which is sufficient to win most arguments


  • Repelled by bright light
Cover art for the book THE TWO TOWERS by J.R.R. Tolkien


By J.R.R. Tolkien
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Match Prediction

By Seanan McGuire

The terrain is not what it should be: is vast and white and empty, not the safe tumble of stone in the mountain passes where a web may hang, not the comfortable confines of a tunnel through the earth, hewn by human hands and seized by inhuman intelligences. It shimmers, shivers, tries to become these two contradictory things at the same time, and cannot, cannot, can be nothing but what it is in the face of two such ancient minds refusing to come to an accord.

(On a level of reality outside the scope of mortal ken—and they are mortal, they are, even gods are mortal, when viewed from sufficient remove—the one who chooses the combatants shivers, remembers that hubris is a sin in the eyes of entropy, and hopes that they will distract one another sufficiently for safety’s sake.)

The first battle ends in a draw: the landscape settles to blank whiteness, and the combatants appear. One, a spider larger than the mind wishes to comprehend, large as a cow, a horse, a great hunting hound, larger than nature or merciful divinity should allow. She walks on legs which should not hold her weight, according to the Great God Physics, and the fangs she waves in agitated objection to this mistreatment drip venoms from the dawn of the world. She is, in her way, beautiful, and she is in all ways terrible, and she does not belong here.

The other, small, simple, brightly colored, a garish wound in the pristine landscape: a human, a soft, clean, simple biped, dressed in carnival clothing. A clown, with bright red puffball buttons, with tufts of soft hair the color of arterial spray, with a painted smile on his face and a bundle of bright balloons in his cartoonishly oversized hand. He looks around, curious, seemingly calm, but as tightly poised as any predator, ready to strike, ready for the slaughter. Always, always, ready for the slaughter.

“NOW,” says the voice from everywhere, from nowhere, from (the deadlights) outside all reality. “NOW YOU MUST FIGHT.”

The spider stills. The clown looks, mildly affronted, to the sky.

“We are not your creatures to command,” says the spider, and it is somehow no greater a perversion than any other that this spider, this great beast, should speak. “We do not dance when you bid it.”

“I do,” says the clown. His giggle is a railroad spike being drawn across a chalkboard as wide as the moon. “I’m Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and I’ll dance for anyone who offers me a shiny copper penny. I’ll do a lot more for a dime.”

“You speak nonsense.”

“You speak.” The clown’s teeth are sharp. Humans shouldn’t have teeth so sharp. “Spiders don’t.”

“I am no spider.”

“Oh good. Neither am I.” The clown begins to move closer, not walking, exactly, but gamboling, dancing, almost, toward her. “Pleased to make your acquaintance. Sorry I have to kill you.”

“You? Kill me? As well ask a pebble to murder a mountain, a breath to murder a wind.” The spider rears back, front legs raised in threat. “I will devour your bones, and fill my stomach with your juices.”

“Says the pebble to the mountain,” says the clown, and twists, warps, is not, becoming a spider even larger than the first, all legs and impossible angles and terrible, bloated body. It is the spider monsters dream about, on dark nights, when the sky is full of stars and the corners are full of secrets. It is an ending walking.

For the second time in the long days of her life, Shelob is afraid. “I am Shelob, daughter of Ungoliant, and I will see the sun die.”

“Ah, but I saw it born, and it wasn’t any fun then, either,” says the second spider. In a tone as slick as oil upon stone, it asks, “What are you afraid of?”

Shelob hisses, and rushes as fast as her legs can carry her, only to shy back as the world twists again and her opponent is gone, replaced by a Hobbit in a traveler’s cloak, a short sword in one hand.

Pennywise smiles with Samwise’s lips. “Oh. This will be fun,” he giggles, and the battle is joined.

When the motion stops, the field is white no longer, featureless no longer, but gouged and spattered with fluids both foul and fair. The only question asked by the echoing void as it dissolves, dumping victim and victor into nothingness, is a small, simple one:

Who won?

Predicted Winner: Pennywise

Tally of Votes Cast:




A photo of Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire is a Washington State-based author with a strong penchant for travel and can regularly be found just about anyplace capable of supporting human life (as well as a few places that probably aren’t). Early exposure to a vast number of books left her with a lifelong affection for the written word, and led, perhaps inevitably, to her writing books of her own, starting somewhere around the age of eleven. The October Daye novels are her first urban fantasy series, and the InCryptid novels are her second series, both published by DAW and both of which have put her in the New York Times bestseller list. Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; Rosemary and Rue, the first novel in the October Daye series, was named one of the Top 20 Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Past Decade; and her novel Feed, written under the name Mira Grant, was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. She also won a Hugo for her podcast, and is the first person to be nominated for five Hugo Awards in a single year. You can visit her at

Cover art for the book Tricks for Free by Seanan McGuire

Tricks for Free

By Seanan McGuire