It's been some time since Thog the Mighty, barbarian hero and connoisseur of barbarous prose, paid a state visit to this page. While he was away, others got in on the act and donned the Mantle of Thog, an almost unbelievably smelly garment from the middens of antiquity.

Famous author Adam Roberts, for example, recently survived a heroic read-through of Stephen R. Donaldson's five 1990s "Gap" space operas, and found rich pickings which he dutifully submitted to Thog. It's a tale of high melodrama and great steaming lumps of emotion:

"Without warning, a tingle ran down Holt's nearly strong spine and tightened around his scrotum." "... he was smiling like a corpse with an orgasm." "Angus Thermopyle laughed – a sound like the pulping of flesh." "With his mouth full of ash and fatality, he recognized that before long he was going to go mad." "His hands thrashed like dying fish at the end of his arms." (All from A Dark and Hungry God Arises.)

Overwrought similes, mystifying metaphors: "Wheeling like a blow, he raged." "Angus' heart clenched in a grimace which didn't show on his face." "His aura yowled of furies that didn't show on his face." "Davies looked like his chest was congested with shouts." "The air had grown viscid with mortality." "Nick let out a clenched laugh." "His beard moved like a blade whenever he spoke or turned his head." (Chaos and Order.)

In the final volume, people become very excitable indeed: "Indignation and confusion appeared to flush through Chief Mandich in waves, staining his skin with splotches like the marks of an infection." "Her voice ached like Morn's arm." "Min's jaws clenched and loosened as if she were chewing iron." "Smoke seeped out of her hair as if the mind under it had been burned to the ground." "His voice sounded as bleak as hard vacuum." "Standing rigid, as if he were remembering a crucifixion, he shouted." "The sound of knives filled Hyland's voice." "Blaine wore her sexuality like an accusation." "In response he brandished his beard at her like a club." (This Day All Gods Die.)

There are other magical phrases ("Anodyne Systems, the sole licensed manufacturer of SOD-CMOS.")... but I should say more about Thog himself, who presides over the tortured-prose department of the SF newsletter Ansible. Officially he's a creation of my pal John Grant, whose The Book of the Magnakai has the only authentic painting of Thog as its cover art. But Thog gets around. Back in the 1950s, the great US humorist James Thurber reported that his cranky radio would often say "thog, thog, thog" before dying altogether. Can this be coincidence?

Gary Larson's cartoon cavemen in The Far Side are often called Thog, though also more famously Thag, a name now immortalized in paleontology – try Googling for "thagomizer". The Muppet Show introduced a 9½-foot shaggy blue monster named Thog in its 1970 Christmas special: unlike his green companion Thig, this Thog made several comebacks and was once seen hugging Mia Farrow. There's altogether too much Thog identity theft going on.

Knowing Thog's fondness for eyeball antics, a friend of Ansible sent a link to the Nyanglish "English example search" website's coverage of a forgotten crime-fiction hero's eyes: Try it! Naturally I wondered what might reveal, and was boggled by the range of unlikely contexts in which the scourge of the writing classes appears. I don't even want to know the source of the sentence "Thog wears a leprechaun costume, while he packs a giant wooden alpaca with potato salad." Truly there are things with which even Thog was not meant to meddle.

David Langford warns the faint-hearted to avoid and its "I Feel Unlucky" random selection button.