Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: eytanz on December 23, 2012, 05:23:41 AM

Title: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: eytanz on December 23, 2012, 05:23:41 AM
EP375: Marley and Cratchit (http://escapepod.org/2012/12/20/ep375-marley-and-cratchit/)

By David Steffen (http://www.diabolicalplots.com/)

Read by Emma Newman (http://www.enewman.co.uk/)

---

STAVE 1: THE MARVELOUS MACHINE

In those days Jacob Marley was full of life and vigor. His smile shone so that anyone who saw him soon smiled widely in return. A moment in his presence would make one’s worst burdens seem lighter. His optimism and generosity brought out the best in others, catching easily as a torch in dry straw.

Those were happy, hopeful times. Ebenezer Scrooge, the pinch-faced and greedy miser, would not weigh on his mind until many years later. In those later years the two men’s appearances matched as twins, and their customers would often confuse one for the other. But in every other manner they were as different as two men could be. I will speak further of Scrooge, but not yet, for this is not his tale. In these days long gone, Jacob Marley was a portly man, neatly dressed and neatly groomed, with hair black as pitch and never a whisker on his face. Marley entered the shop on that momentous day in the manner with which he was accustomed, swinging the door wide and exclaiming “Hallo!” to his business partner in a sonorous voice that any Shakespearian actor would envy. His jowls swung with the force of his entry, and wobbled like a custard for quite some time after. His clothes were not of the finest material, but were fine enough for a man of his young age, a sign of the moderate inheritance left him by his father the year prior. The front office held two desks, one tidy and one covered with heaps of paper and mechanisms.

Behind the cluttered desk Bob Cratchit looked up with a quiet smile. Where Marley was expansive and memorable, Cratchit was small and quiet and utterly forgettable. He was a pleasant man, so pleasant that I have only ever known one man to ever speak crossly of him: Scrooge, that nasty old miser who spoke crossly of everyone, regardless of cause. Look! He has intruded again upon our story where he is not wanted. I will speak of him no more until his presence enters upon the story.

Although Cratchit was a pleasant man, and earnest, he was easily
forgotten, apt to leave no lasting impression on the memory. In fact,
even I can no longer bring his features clearly to my mind. All I can
say of his appearance is that he was exceedingly ordinary in every respect, and he was of an age with his partner, both old enough to have earned their own reputation, but young enough to hold wild and optimistic musings of their future. Cratchit’s forgettable appearance suited him well enough, because people made him unaccountably nervous, and he found even idle conversation to be terribly taxing. If no one remembered him, then no one would seek him out and he would be left to his alchemy. In those days he did little else, his efforts supported by Marley’s coffers in the hopes of finding something to build a business on.


(http://escapepod.org/wp-images/podcast-mini4.gif) Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (http://traffic.libsyn.com/escapepod/EP375_MarleyCratchit.mp3)
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on December 26, 2012, 07:02:11 AM
Wow, first. Never happened to me before.

First things first: the reading was excellent. Very well done Ms. Newman.
And now we can get down to business.
The story was pretty good. One indication of that was that I was totally immersed in the story, and totally swept away by it.
I did catch on to the reveal about Scrooge very early on, so that came as no surprise.
I never actually did read the original A Christmas Carol, I can't seem to ever make it through an entire Dickens story. :\
But I am familiar with it, and this as a sort of prolog is pretty cool.
A well written and a well-told story.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Thunderscreech on December 27, 2012, 09:51:07 AM
This thread was dead, to begin with.  There is no doubt whatsoever about that.  The view count was low, there was but a single reply, and the days had passed in quantity before anything new was written.  The old thread was dead as a doornail.  I'd like to change that; as I loved this story.

This reminds me of Wicked in how that book grapples with The Wizard of Oz, takes a story that we think we KNOW and through modified context, changes almost everything about it into something new.  It's not a remix or a reboot, it's an entirely new worldview that the original Christmas Carol plugs into like a Lego block, and I fracking love Lego.  Well, except for when in the darkness I step upon an errant piece and find myself transported through a whirlwind of pain to stumble as if shoved by the ghost of toys past, of course.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Cutter McKay on December 27, 2012, 10:39:45 AM
Exactly what I was thinking, Thunderscreech. This is story is to A Christmas Carol what Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz. It was an interesting and fun look at a possible past for all the Christmas Carol characters. I loved the idea that Scrooge is a split personality of Marley, like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing. I also love how Fred is actually Marley's nephew, but as he's in on the whole thing, he still refers to Scrooge as "Uncle".

One thing I couldn't figure out, and maybe it's not meant to be an actual character, but who was the narrator? We must assume she's female as the reader was female, but who is she? She has an intimate knowledge of all the characters, knowing as much as the inner desires of Bob Cratchit. For a while I expected her to turn out to be Molly Cratchit, but that wasn't the case, unless I missed it. Perhaps she is no one other than the narrator, but with the way she spoke to the reader as sharing a story she was a part of, it would annoy me if she was nothing more.

Finally, props to Unblinking. You did a wonderful job with this tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The voice of the piece was fantastic as was the writing itself.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on December 27, 2012, 11:30:45 AM
One thing I couldn't figure out, and maybe it's not meant to be an actual character, but who was the narrator? We must assume she's female as the reader was female, but who is she? She has an intimate knowledge of all the characters, knowing as much as the inner desires of Bob Cratchit.
It's obvious who she is. It's Lachesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lachesis_%28mythology%29).
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Devoted135 on December 27, 2012, 01:58:44 PM
This thread was dead, to begin with.  There is no doubt whatsoever about that.  The view count was low, there was but a single reply, and the days had passed in quantity before anything new was written.  The old thread was dead as a doornail.  I'd like to change that; as I loved this story.

Eh, it's the week of Christmas. :)

Anyway, I really enjoyed this story! I was a bit slow on the uptake, which made the gradual reveal all the more exciting for me as pieces began to fall into place. The idea of the crystal allowing the holder to follow the various threads of possible lives throughout time was awesome! And the scene where Scrooge tricked Cratchit into revealing his hope of helping Marley was particularly creepy. The story did start to feel like a slow spiral of inevitability about the time that Cratchit returns to London, however, I enjoyed seeing the story end up right where the traditional story begins. Also, like Cutty McKay, I am left wondering about the identity of the narrator.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Lionman on December 27, 2012, 04:04:13 PM
I enjoyed this story.  The reading was well done, the story drew me in, made me curious just how this story was going to hook up later with A Christmas Carol.  My only minor concern was that as we draw to the end of the story, the shift seems to be a little awkward.  Sort of one of those '*poof* A Miracle Occurs Here' moment and we have a clerk and the stage is set for how we get to the original story.  The build up to that was very nice, well done, but this part felt forced to some degree.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Dem on December 28, 2012, 09:55:41 AM

Finally, props to Unblinking. You did a wonderful job with this tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The voice of the piece was fantastic as was the writing itself.
Yes indeed. I almost missed this as I didn't seem to get the email - maybe that happened to other people and that's why the thread was dead? Anyway, I'm delighted I found it - a cracking good story that could have been painfully derivative and was absolutely not.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Dem on December 28, 2012, 10:02:54 AM

First things first: the reading was excellent. Very well done Ms. Newman.

Here here. [It's been a good year to be British but we'll go back to cynical snarking come 2013, be assured]
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: InfiniteMonkey on December 28, 2012, 12:57:15 PM
And here I expected people to be complaining that this is not, strictly speaking, Science Fiction  :)

(I didn't mind; it's Christmas)

My only question is how this actually plugs into "A Christmas Carol", as I'm fairly sure there are references (in flashback, or cited in the past) of Scrooge and Marley actually being in the same room at the same time, and not just from Scrooge.

Though I'm prepared to be wrong.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Thunderscreech on December 28, 2012, 01:37:50 PM
My only question is how this actually plugs into "A Christmas Carol", as I'm fairly sure there are references (in flashback, or cited in the past) of Scrooge and Marley actually being in the same room at the same time, and not just from Scrooge.
To my recollection, the closest to this is in the opening chapter where Marley's death is indicated as being witnessed and certified by the undertaker, doctor, etc.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: ElectricPaladin on December 28, 2012, 01:45:49 PM
I'm going to sound like - well - like a bit of a Scrooge when I say this, but this is the first A Christmas Carol take-off that has actually entertained me in years. I think this is a testament to the author's skill and to how freaking tired and overused A Christmas Carol is.

Maybe it's 'cause I'm Jewish?

Anyway, at least it wasn't another Santa Clause story. Urgh. I am sick to death of Santa Clause stories.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Devoted135 on December 28, 2012, 03:56:27 PM
I'm going to sound like - well - like a bit of a Scrooge when I say this, but this is the first A Christmas Carol take-off that has actually entertained me in years. I think this is a testament to the author's skill and to how freaking tired and overused A Christmas Carol is.

Maybe it's 'cause I'm Jewish?

Anyway, at least it wasn't another Santa Clause story. Urgh. I am sick to death of Santa Clause stories.



Haha, we should raise a cry for more Chanukah stories!
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: statisticus on December 28, 2012, 09:54:19 PM
I'm going to express a minority view here by the look of it, but this one left me cold.  A major flaw to me was that though it was nominally based on A Christmas Carol the story departed from it on too many levels.  We have Cratchit as a partner in the firm instead of Scrooge, we have Marley as a cheerful, friendly person instead of the clone of Scrooge which he is in Dickens,  we have the addition of alchemy and magic to the story. I could perhaps have dealt with one of these, but making all those changes at once departed too far from the original for my suspension of disbelief to handle - especially the last.  I couldn't actually finish this one; the story differences were too large and the story itself not absorbing enough to keep me going despite it.

I don't really think this works with A Christmas Carol like Wicked & Wizard of Oz.  Although both stories are re-imaginings of their original, in this case the addition of the alchemical element is too foreign to Dickens. In Wicked most of the additions are political, which is a universal of all worlds; here the addition of the magical/mythological element is too big a leap - at least for me.

Now, where did I leave my jar of Humbugs...
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: matweller on December 29, 2012, 12:30:46 AM
Great tale, well told -- loved it.

I deny the Wicked comparison too, but only because this was more entertaining in 30 minutes than Wicked is in all of it's boring incarnations, IMO.

...We have Cratchit as a partner in the firm instead of Scrooge...

We have Cratchit /starting/ as a partner of Marley. When he returns from world travels, it's as a debtor as he attempts to settle down with the new family. Debtors are Scrooge's specialty, so we have grounds for the "enslavement." And guilt keeps Cratchit coming back when he could just leave (which I honestly think is the only weak tie in the story. I mean, really, most folks would hang on for a bit, but in the face of a true Jeckyll/Hyde scenario, we'd move our families out of the blast radius).

we have Marley as a cheerful, friendly person instead of the clone of Scrooge which he is in Dickens...

Read your Dickens, Scrooge started cheerful -- it was his lost love and his partnership with Marley that led him to darkness. For me, the way it was handled in the story was perfect because Scrooge was supposed to be the self delusion of a mental patient. Such a self delusion would be more than happy to remember the past any way it wanted. I love the idea that the Scrooge half would become so all-consuming that Marley would have to appear as a ghost bearing the brunt of the blame in A Christmas Carol in order to soothe the ego into being open to what follows -- it's not really your fault, and now here's a way out if you want it -- friggin' brilliant! My understanding about paranoid schizo delusions (all collected from mass media, thank you) is that they are willing to ignore details to make the grand illusion work in their minds, which would be perfect for "Scrooge" to relegate "Marley" to the back as the guilty. Love it!

...we have the addition of alchemy and magic to the story...

Worse than (or even separate from, for that matter) supernatural visitation in the original story? Less believable than a complete character reversal after a night of odd dreams? Not in my book. Works just fine if you accept the source material as cannon.

I'm not picking on you specifically, you just mentioned everything I wanted to address in one easy package. Like it or not -- I could care less. I'm just saying that none of these were sticking points for me in a fun, well-written, well-read story. And for the record, I say all of this having actually sighed when Mur shared the title of this episode because I thought it would be terribly cliche to run another Xmas story rip off during the Xmas show.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: FireTurtle on December 29, 2012, 01:15:47 PM
Yay. That was a fun ride, just the thing to take me the hour drive to my parent's home on Christmas morning! I must admit I was more than a little bit skeptical that the story was going to have the chops to carry itself all the way to the inception of Christmas Carol without somehow falling off the rails of believability. It started off in such a very odd place, indeed, that I could not envision the transition from That Place to Dickens. But, boy howdy, did it get there- with alchemy, a fractured personality, and Lachesis, Oh My!

Nicely done.

Also, polite applause to the excellent reader.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on December 29, 2012, 02:03:53 PM
And here I expected people to be complaining that this is not, strictly speaking, Science Fiction  :)
Since when is alchemy not science fiction?
It's as science fiction as steampunk and stonepunk.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Kaa on December 30, 2012, 09:33:25 PM
And here I expected people to be complaining that this is not, strictly speaking, Science Fiction  :)
Since when is alchemy not science fiction?
It's as science fiction as steampunk and stonepunk.

Chempunk?
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: statisticus on January 01, 2013, 04:00:20 AM

...We have Cratchit as a partner in the firm instead of Scrooge...

We have Cratchit /starting/ as a partner of Marley.

Yes, I got that from what I heard of the story.  My point is that there is no suggestion of it in Dickens. A change, though not necessarily a bad one.


we have Marley as a cheerful, friendly person instead of the clone of Scrooge which he is in Dickens...

Read your Dickens, Scrooge started cheerful -- it was his lost love and his partnership with Marley that led him to darkness.

Not quite.  Yes, Scrooge started off cheerful as a child and young adult, as we see in Christmas Past.  However, he doesn't throw himself into business because he has lost his love, he loses his love because he devotes himself to his business:

To quote Dickens:
Quote
"It matters little," she said softly. "To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and, if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve."
"What Idol has displaced you?" he rejoined.
"A golden one."

Again, there is no suggestion that Marley corrupts Scrooge either, or vice versa.  Dickens doesn't tell us about how they met or became partners.  All we have suggests that the two were as bad as each other:

To quote Dickens again:
Quote
"Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied. "He died seven years ago, this very night."
"We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner," said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.
It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits.
Similarly, Marley's ghost tells Scrooge that his own chain was as long as Marley's at the time of Marley's death.



For me, the way it was handled in the story was perfect because Scrooge was supposed to be the self delusion of a mental patient. Such a self delusion would be more than happy to remember the past any way it wanted. I love the idea that the Scrooge half would become so all-consuming that Marley would have to appear as a ghost bearing the brunt of the blame in A Christmas Carol in order to soothe the ego into being open to what follows -- it's not really your fault, and now here's a way out if you want it -- friggin' brilliant! My understanding about paranoid schizo delusions (all collected from mass media, thank you) is that they are willing to ignore details to make the grand illusion work in their minds, which would be perfect for "Scrooge" to relegate "Marley" to the back as the guilty. Love it!

Asolutely no idea where you're getting this.  The only suggestion in Dickens is that Scrooge is bad - unkind, ungenerous, cruel and grasping, rejecting any love or friendship offered.  Not delusional.  Marley is particularly scathing in his assessment of Scrooge, but has no comfort to offer him:

Quote
"Jacob!" he said imploringly. "Old Jacob Marley, tell me more! Speak comfort to me, Jacob!"
"I have none to give," the Ghost replied. "It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men."

Through the intervention of the spirits he is shown the error of his ways.  He wasn't always this bad (past), there are still people out there who care about him (present) but if he doesn't change he will die firenless and alone (future).  There is no doubt who's fault it is, or who has to bring the change about; it is Scrooge himself.  All the spirits can do is point the way.

...we have the addition of alchemy and magic to the story...

Worse than (or even separate from, for that matter) supernatural visitation in the original story? Less believable than a complete character reversal after a night of odd dreams? Not in my book. Works just fine if you accept the source material as cannon.


Again, I'll stick by this one.  In Dickens we have a single supernatural event spread across the fateful night, which affects a single person and brings about a major change in their character.  Nothing unusual there, story wise - folklore and fantasy is full of such stories; the common theme of such is that the supernatural event is unique and affects only one person directly.  In this story, though, we have magic (alchemy) widely used in the world over a period of time - Cratchit and Marley even use it as an industrial process, the foundation of their business over many years.  A *very* different proposition to the folkloric tradition that Dickens is tapping into.

FWIW, I got up to just after Cratchit's return on my first listen.  Having read the rest of the comments I picked up where I'd left off and listened to the rest of the story.  When I first posted I hadn't got to the big twist of this story which makes more sense of the whole. 

So, though I feel better about the story having heard the whole (and the plot twists are clever) it nevertheless still feels like too big a leap from Dickens for my tastes.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: statisticus on January 01, 2013, 04:04:32 AM
And here I expected people to be complaining that this is not, strictly speaking, Science Fiction  :)
Since when is alchemy not science fiction?
It's as science fiction as steampunk and stonepunk.

Hear Hear!  The original story can't be considered science fiction, and one could even argue that it is a morality tale pure and simple, and not even a fantasy.  After all, who's to say that there are any spiritual manifestations at all?  Perhaps Scrooge (prompted by an uneasy conscience, perhaps?) imagines the whole thing.  In this story, though, the alchemy (used as an industrial process) is definitely treated in a science fictional way.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Devoted135 on January 01, 2013, 05:28:59 PM
I don't really think this works with A Christmas Carol like Wicked & Wizard of Oz.  Although both stories are re-imaginings of their original, in this case the addition of the alchemical element is too foreign to Dickens. In Wicked most of the additions are political, which is a universal of all worlds; here the addition of the magical/mythological element is too big a leap - at least for me.
*emphasis mine*

So um, why are you listening to a SF podcast?

I'll elaborate on my question by adding that one purpose of stories such as this one is specifically to re-imagine tales in a speculative light. A "what if" put into story form. I have no problem if someone says that this "what if" didn't work for them, but I think you go a bit far in implying that asking "what if" is inappropriate use of the subject material.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Unblinking on January 02, 2013, 12:57:13 PM
Hi everyone!
I've been away from the forums for a couple weeks for the Christmas holiday, and just got back.  I've been looking forward to sharing this one with all of you since I made the sale back in May or thereabouts--and just last week I made a Christmas-themed sale to Pseudopod that will run next year.  :)

I'm glad you guys have liked it so far, and thanks for commenting on everything that you have, for good or bad.  Statisticus, too.  Not liking it because it changes too many things about the original is fair enough--that's what I like about it, that it can weave a backstory that makes me reinterpret events in A Christmas Carol.

I almost didn't submit this story to Escape Pod, because I wasn't sure it was SF.  But thinking on it more, there is no clear boundary in history between alchemy and chemistry--they were both pursuits of science, it's just that we have learned enough in the meantime that the structures of alchemy are fantastical now in the current viewpoint.  And the way that the alchemy is used in the story fits with a science fiction mindset, I think.  So I figured "What the hell" and sent it in anyway, and obviously I'm glad I did.

The root of this story actually originated by watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, specifically Hermione's Time-Turner device, which allows a person to revisit x number of hours from the recent past.  I was talking to my writing buddy Gary Cuba, and the subject came up of how useful such a device would be to try to get more things done in a day than the day should strictly allow.  This raised two big problems in my head of having such a device:
1.  You'd age prematurely compared to other people, due to living those extra hours.
2.  It would only be useful IF NOBODY KNEW THAT YOU HAD IT.  Because if other people know that you can squeeze an extra 8 hours into each day, that will only raise expectations of what you can get done and more responsibility will be piled upon you.  Gary brought up an example of this--what if Scrooge had a Time Turner and he forced Cratchit to use it--he could make Cratchit work for 16 hours a day and pay him for 8, and so on.

The Scrooge and Cratchit idea spun in my head for a while, and I imagined various variations of how that could work, having a whole crew of Cratchit's as his labor force, and poor Cratchit aging a month for every day of work.  Lots of interesting ideas, but I was having trouble spinning a plot out of them.

To try to sort the rest out I decided to read A Christmas Carol for the first time--I'd seen many many variations of it in movies and TV, but never read the original.  I found it quite entertaining, even though I had seen so many things based upon it.  But one detail struck me in an odd fashion, from this text:  "Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him."

That got me to thinking about people calling Scrooge by either name and he didn't really care, and I followed that thread to the final version of the story.  :)

One thing I couldn't figure out, and maybe it's not meant to be an actual character, but who was the narrator? We must assume she's female as the reader was female, but who is she? She has an intimate knowledge of all the characters, knowing as much as the inner desires of Bob Cratchit. For a while I expected her to turn out to be Molly Cratchit, but that wasn't the case, unless I missed it. Perhaps she is no one other than the narrator, but with the way she spoke to the reader as sharing a story she was a part of, it would annoy me if she was nothing more.

I was doing my best to write in a fashion similar to A Christmas Carol, so it would fit in as well as possible.  One of the ways that I tried to do that is by having an unnamed narrator who spoke familiarly of the characters as if they had known each other.  The text does not necessitate the narrator being female.  I'm guessing that in A Christmas the narrator is meant to be Charles Dickens himself, since the story was published under his name, but it's never actually specified one way or the other.  In any case, Emma was a great choice of narrator--well done!

This thread was dead, to begin with.  There is no doubt whatsoever about that.  The view count was low, there was but a single reply, and the days had passed in quantity before anything new was written.  The old thread was dead as a doornail.  I'd like to change that; as I loved this story.

Haha, the first time I read this comment I didn't even notice the parallel with the beginning of A Christmas Carol.  :)  Then I read through the thread again and laughed that I hadn't noticed it.


I'm going to sound like - well - like a bit of a Scrooge when I say this, but this is the first A Christmas Carol take-off that has actually entertained me in years. I think this is a testament to the author's skill and to how freaking tired and overused A Christmas Carol is.

I hear you.  Mickey's Christmas Carol has been the only version I've needed for pretty much my whole life, though I did get a kick out of the  Carnacki/Scrooge mashup that ran here.  I've seen enough adaptations that I had once sworn an oath to myself that I would never write A Christmas Carol tie-in.  And then I did it anyway, because I thought this idea was too fun to pass up.  I guess that shows you what my oaths are worth.

We have Cratchit /starting/ as a partner of Marley. When he returns from world travels, it's as a debtor as he attempts to settle down with the new family. Debtors are Scrooge's specialty, so we have grounds for the "enslavement." And guilt keeps Cratchit coming back when he could just leave (which I honestly think is the only weak tie in the story. I mean, really, most folks would hang on for a bit, but in the face of a true Jeckyll/Hyde scenario, we'd move our families out of the blast radius).

I struggled with that part quite a bit--I don't think that Cratchit's choice to stay to help Marley was the right one, because he has a family to care for.  But I feel like it's a believable choice, even if it's a bad choice.  And to make a bad choice out of compassion means that I don't hate him for it.

And for the record, I say all of this having actually sighed when Mur shared the title of this episode because I thought it would be terribly cliche to run another Xmas story rip off during the Xmas show.

That is really cool that the story won you over even when you were biased against it from the title.  :)
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Fenrix on January 02, 2013, 06:35:53 PM
One thing I couldn't figure out, and maybe it's not meant to be an actual character, but who was the narrator? We must assume she's female as the reader was female, but who is she? She has an intimate knowledge of all the characters, knowing as much as the inner desires of Bob Cratchit.
It's obvious who she is. It's Lachesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lachesis_%28mythology%29).

I think you're mistaken. Clearly it was Camilla, since Gonzo takes over narration of A Christmas Carol.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Scumpup on January 02, 2013, 07:35:44 PM
Nothing about the story was badly done, as such.  I just wasn't enchanted with the conceit of combining the story of Dr. Jekyll with that of Ebeneezer Scrooge.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Thunderscreech on January 02, 2013, 09:30:44 PM
Nothing about the story was badly done, as such.  I just wasn't enchanted with the conceit of combining the story of Dr. Jekyll with that of Ebeneezer Scrooge.
Bah!  Humbug!

:)
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: RestlessWonderer on January 05, 2013, 04:31:42 PM
This was such a fun story.  Hopeful, caring, and familiar.  All the things one needs in a Christmas story.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: CryptoMe on January 18, 2013, 01:36:26 AM
I must add my congratulations to Unblinking. Very impressive, especially considering how tired and over-done the whole Christmas Carol thing is.

Now, would you consider giving "It's a Wonderful Life" a try? I would love to see what you could do with that.... ;)
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: jwbjerk on January 21, 2013, 11:38:42 AM
Two thumbs up! only because i have only two hands.

I like a story that takes a well known story, and reinterprets it so that the original story makes sense as a garbled, incomplete version of the new stories "true" events.  This pulled that off excellently: remaining generally true to the original, but adding in enough plausible differences that it is much more than a re-hash.  It had plenty of surprizes for me.

Top notch reading, great accent: it enhanced the story.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: El Barto on January 26, 2013, 06:24:21 PM
As glad as I am to see one of our own write a very nice story, I will go right ahead and express frustration with hearing it on Escape Pod, as I found it to be not even close to the line of what I consider to be science fiction.  It was magic / fantasy with power crystals, devoid of any scientific basis.  The quality of the writing was excellent and the reworking of a classic tale was impressive but I hoped to hear a science fiction story today and not something more akin to Harry Potter.  Sorry to be an outlier on this one.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Thunderscreech on January 26, 2013, 06:28:23 PM
Oh man, wait'll you watch Star Wars.  You are gonna be pissed...
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: El Barto on January 26, 2013, 07:17:22 PM
That's a fair point, what with the Force and all, but there was plenty of science fiction in star wars from the laser blasters to aliens to spaceflight to the world-changing impact of a beam that could destroy planets. 

Which, I suppose, is my way of saying that had this Marley and Cratchit story taken place in a world that was full of other science fiction concepts, I would have been less bothered by it really being a magic/fantasy story.  But there was really no science to speak of here.  (But at least there was no Jar-Jar.)
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Scattercat on January 26, 2013, 07:29:35 PM
Laser blasters, aliens, and planet-busting "beams" are all functionally magical, since what we know of science tells us they are all wildly impractical or deeply unlikely at best.  Even spaceflight is a lot more restricted and difficult than what Star Wars shows, and I'm not even getting into "hyperspace."

Alchemical crystals are just as "scientific" as anything in Star Wars, or even most SF, outside of the hardest of the hard science fiction.  If you don't enjoy the story, that's fine, but don't say this isn't science fiction but, say, a time-loop "save point" machine or an alien being able to tamper with human thoughts is.  Say that what you like is aliens and blasters and spaceships, and you don't like Victoriana or crystals, and leave it at that.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: El Barto on January 26, 2013, 07:37:43 PM
I'm pretty sure that my original comment was "I found it to be not even close to the line of what I consider to be science fiction."   I specifically referenced my own perspective because I knew that some folks would likely feel different about this story.

As for the point about laser blasters, aliens, and planet-busting "beams" -- I would say they all purport to operate on yet-unmastered science principles.  by contrast, magic crystals created (by hand) in 1843 don't even pretend to have any science behind them.  And that is what I don't like.

For what it is worth, I could see liking (and considering to be SF) an alchemy story set in the future where technology and the ability to manipulate atoms is so far advanced that tinkerers in their London offices can in fact make breakthroughs in their laboratories.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Scattercat on January 26, 2013, 10:38:34 PM
So call it an alternate history.  *shrugs*

Point is, saying it's not science fiction is silly, particularly if you cite scientific principles and aren't, say, Alistair Reynolds or whoever.  Saying you don't like it isn't silly at all.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Unblinking on February 05, 2013, 10:41:51 AM
Now, would you consider giving "It's a Wonderful Life" a try? I would love to see what you could do with that.... ;)

I've never seen it!  All I've done is listen to the radio version on Journey Into...
:)
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Fenrix on February 05, 2013, 05:58:26 PM
Now, would you consider giving "It's a Wonderful Life" a try? I would love to see what you could do with that.... ;)

I've never seen it!  All I've done is listen to the radio version on Journey Into...
:)

That's a correctable problem. It's a classic for a reason.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Unblinking on February 06, 2013, 01:47:24 PM
Now, would you consider giving "It's a Wonderful Life" a try? I would love to see what you could do with that.... ;)

I've never seen it!  All I've done is listen to the radio version on Journey Into...
:)

That's a correctable problem. It's a classic for a reason.

By what I can find the Film It's a Wonderful Life does not have a current copyright due to a clerical error when the owners were trying to renew it.  But the story it's based on "The Greatest Gift" is still current for a couple more decades.  There was a big legal battle in 1993 (which I was unaware of until right now) where someone decided to try to cash in on TV stations constantly playing the movie, and because it's a derivative of a copyrighted work, they earned the right to royalties.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Jim Shorts on February 27, 2013, 05:07:45 PM
Ok, I realize I’m a little late to the party, and that no one has been eagerly watching the posts to find out what some random guy thinks of Marley and Cratchit, but I just can’t help but comment. I thought this was one of the best stories I’ve heard on EP. And I was DREADING listening to it. I work for a professional theatre company, and we have staged A Christmas Carol every single year for 35 years. When this episode came out, I had just experienced Dickens’s story about 16 times in 20 days. That’s why I had to wait until February before I could contemplate listening to it without wanting to defenestrate myself [just when I thought I’d never have an excuse to work that word into a conversation!]. Plus, though I love Christmas, I’m not really a big fan of Christmas stories. They’re just too hokey for me.

But I was blown away by how well this story worked (and it had nothing to do with Christmas, other than its association with Dickens’s tale). At first I was getting hung up on the inconsistencies with the original story, but I just had to put myself in the mindset of listening to an alternate version of the lives of these characters, not something that could actually fit with the original. So I enjoyed it. But then lo and behold, every single one of the seeming inconsistencies began to merge and fit with the original, until by the end they all tied in perfectly! And the narration was spot on too! This was about as flawless as an episode gets, if you ask me.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: childoftyranny on April 11, 2013, 05:56:28 PM
I quite enjoyed this re-imagining, I'd say lets call is psuedoscience fiction, but I wouldn't want to get the Pseduopod castle jealous again, I mean with what happened last time...
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: hardware on June 03, 2013, 08:38:08 AM
Yeah, this was pretty good for being a spin of a classic tale, it still had a mind and soul of it's own, was well written/read and expands on the themes in interesting directions. 
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: schizoTypal on June 03, 2013, 11:23:13 AM
Ok, I realize I’m a little late to the party, and that no one has been eagerly watching the posts to find out what some random guy thinks of Marley and Cratchit, but I just can’t help but comment. I thought this was one of the best stories I’ve heard on EP. And I was DREADING listening to it. I work for a professional theatre company, and we have staged A Christmas Carol every single year for 35 years. When this episode came out, I had just experienced Dickens’s story about 16 times in 20 days. That’s why I had to wait until February before I could contemplate listening to it without wanting to defenestrate myself [just when I thought I’d never have an excuse to work that word into a conversation!]. Plus, though I love Christmas, I’m not really a big fan of Christmas stories. They’re just too hokey for me.

But I was blown away by how well this story worked (and it had nothing to do with Christmas, other than its association with Dickens’s tale). At first I was getting hung up on the inconsistencies with the original story, but I just had to put myself in the mindset of listening to an alternate version of the lives of these characters, not something that could actually fit with the original. So I enjoyed it. But then lo and behold, every single one of the seeming inconsistencies began to merge and fit with the original, until by the end they all tied in perfectly! And the narration was spot on too! This was about as flawless as an episode gets, if you ask me.

I actually thought that it would fit in with the original story just fine! But that's probably a benefit of not knowing the original inside and out.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Unblinking on December 28, 2015, 11:30:38 AM
I don't usually post links to reprints after a story goes up, but I was super excited to see that the reprinting of "Marley and Cratchit" at Cast of Wonders is voiced by the excellent Ian Stuart:
http://www.castofwonders.org/2015/12/episode-185-marley-and-cratchit-by-david-steffen/

I have long wanted to have one of my stories narrated by Ian Stuart, I love his voice, and if I had to pick any one of my stories that he might be especially well suited for this would be the one I'd pick.
Title: Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
Post by: Devoted135 on December 28, 2015, 11:24:59 PM
I don't usually post links to reprints after a story goes up, but I was super excited to see that the reprinting of "Marley and Cratchit" at Cast of Wonders is voiced by the excellent Ian Stuart:
http://www.castofwonders.org/2015/12/episode-185-marley-and-cratchit-by-david-steffen/

I have long wanted to have one of my stories narrated by Ian Stuart, I love his voice, and if I had to pick any one of my stories that he might be especially well suited for this would be the one I'd pick.


Nice! It's getting very close to the top of my listening queue :)