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Author Topic: PC447: It’s A Wonderful Carol  (Read 533 times)
Ocicat
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« on: December 20, 2016, 03:58:49 PM »

PodCastle 447: It’s A Wonderful Carol

by Heather Shaw & Tim Pratt

read by Dagny Paul

A PodCastle original!

Rated PG.

“Who the hell are you?”
The man is standing in my walk-in closet. Except he’s not. He’s also standing at the foot of my bed. And he’s sitting in my window, languid like a pampered cat. Everywhere my eyes go, there he is. He’s so beautiful my teeth ache when I look at him, like I just bit into a piece of cake that is too sweet to taste good. Then he speaks, and my ears shiver in a glorious golden aural bliss.
“I’m your muse, Colleen.”


Click here to continue reading.

Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, bookkeeper, and lindy hopper living in Berkeley, CA with her husband Tim and son River. She’s the fiction editor at the pro SF zine, Persistent Visions and has had short fiction published in Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Fantasy, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and other nice places. She’s been a featured author at the SF in SF Reading series in San Francisco and read her poetry in front of disgruntled grunge concert-goers at Lollapalooza back when it was a thing.

Tim Pratt lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Heather and their son River. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, Asimov’s, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Subterranean, and Tor.com, among many other places. By day he works as senior editor at Locus magazine, where, among other things, he write the obituaries.

He won a Hugo Award (for “Impossible Dreams” in 2007), and has been nominated for a Nebula Award, Stoker Award, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a couple of Gaylactic Spectrum Awards, a Seiun Award, a Scribe Award, and two Ignotus Awards, among others. In 2004 he was a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Find him online at timpratt.org or on Twitter @timpratt.

Your narrator is Dagny Paul. Dagny is a teacher, writer, failed artist, comic book geek, and associate editor/occasional host of our sister podcast, Pseudopod (the sound of horror). (And I gotta tell you, folks, her host spots are always excellent.) She lives in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana with her husband, son, and cat. Pseudopod ran a story of hers as Episode 505: There Is No Road Through The Woods.

You can find Dagny on Twitter @dagnypaul.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
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Fenrix
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2016, 05:28:47 PM »

A wonderful addition to the tradition of Pratt/Shaw holiday stories. Chock full of feels, and a nice Lady or the Tiger structure.

Also enjoyed the narration. Helped effectively deliver the feels.
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danooli
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2016, 03:44:27 PM »

This tradition is one that I look forward to every year. While The Christmas Mummy will probably always be my absolute favorite holiday story, this one in every way ticks the right boxes for me. I loved it, and Dagny's reading was the perfect pairing to a delightful and emotional nod to another one of my favorite Christmas classics.

Well done. A somewhat soothing balm to the end of a craptacular year. Thank you PodCastle.
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rlzack
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2016, 06:29:01 PM »

A lovely tale. I enjoyed it immensely.

Though I did have a moment in the beginning when I was thinking, "Are Tim and Heather writing a story about how they don't want to be known as the Holiday Story writers?"  Smiley
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2016, 10:17:53 AM »

I enjoyed this one.  The tale of the Christmas Truce is a moving one--I hadn't actually realized it was real!  I've just heard the Christmas song about the truce.

I can see both sides of it here, all the artistic frustration of being known as a holiday songwriter when you wrote just the one that happened to take off, but all the ways that song could touch people.

Oddly enough, I had been thinking just a few days before how writing a popular Christmas song seems to be the way to immortalize one's music.  I mean, I would have NO IDEA who Brenda Lee was if I didn't hear "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" on the Christmas radio stations throughout December.  And I would probably not know what Bing Crosby's voice sounded like if his renditions of Christmas songs weren't played on the radio as well.
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Acth99
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2017, 08:26:49 PM »

I loved this. It made me a little snivelly as I listened this January 3rd. The year ahead looks hard from here - but who can say whether the choices that we made along the way were for good or ill in the larger scale of things. Best wishes to all.
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2017, 05:20:50 PM »

 Angry Ohhhhh, no. At timestamp 17:50, Missus Naidu's worth... a little girl (who was in an accident)'s worth... a child-soldier... their worth more than the composer's happiness and success?! Nope. Nope. Nope.  Grin This story was excellent!  It asks the listener, point-blank, whose identity... whose utility... whose happiness is worth more - the individual or the group?

Our protagonist has a dilemna.  Is Mister Muse really a demon in disguise?  He's that really, really, really, really, really good looking? Does he really, really, really look good? Mister Muse has a nasty undercurrent (if I chose to read too much into the story).

Me? I'd get rid of the jingle and have some personal happiness.

This story had elements of horror in it, or unsettling fantasy.  Nice!
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 05:23:12 PM by Scuba Man » Logged

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ChrisKelworth
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2017, 07:14:29 PM »

I loved the story as far as it went, but still feel that the "Lady or the Tiger" ending is a bit of a cheat. Personally, if I were in Colleen's shoes, I could never change things, especially because it feels more horrifying to choose the selfish path when it's a retroactive change. I would have more sympathy if the muse had come to her when she had the idea for Jolly Bells and showed her the two paths her life could take, how much joy her song would bring to lots of people and how devastating it would be for her personally, and she chose the selfish path then.

But I guess my ending to the story is that she stays with her timeline and finds a way to reclaim a bit of that personal fufillment she feels that she's lost. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2017, 02:29:11 PM »

I loved the story as far as it went, but still feel that the "Lady or the Tiger" ending is a bit of a cheat. Personally, if I were in Colleen's shoes, I could never change things, especially because it feels more horrifying to choose the selfish path when it's a retroactive change. I would have more sympathy if the muse had come to her when she had the idea for Jolly Bells and showed her the two paths her life could take, how much joy her song would bring to lots of people and how devastating it would be for her personally, and she chose the selfish path then.

But I guess my ending to the story is that she stays with her timeline and finds a way to reclaim a bit of that personal fufillment she feels that she's lost. Smiley

I guess I didn't think the ending was ambiguous in her choice, I thought the emphasis of how much the thought of being able to move even for a moment of peace in wartime would mean so much to her.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2017, 11:31:37 PM »

This was soooo good! I'm personally glad that the ending was left at least a little ambiguous, because that forces us to think a little bit more about "what would I do?" Thanks for yet another great Christmas story, Tim and Heather and PodCastle!
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