Author Topic: EP138: In the Late December  (Read 19897 times)

gelee

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 521
  • It's a missile, boy.
Reply #25 on: January 07, 2008, 09:38:53 PM
Behind Asimov's "The Last Question", this is the most optimistic version I've heard of the end of everything.

Really well written, but sheesh.  That has to be the saddest Christmas story I've ever heard/read.

Now that are two interesting quotes about the same story ;-)
I don't know.  I guess I can see the upside.  Santa wins, right?  But damn, no Mrs. Claus?  No north pole, no reindeer, no sleigh, just Gundam the Red-Noseconed War Deer, a little female Cthulu in a puddle of slime on a burned out star, and Santa Claus.  That is the sum total of reality at the very end.  How is that not sad?
Joking aside, what made it sad was watching our hero give up so much, just to hang on a little longer, and knowing that the Big Empty would take even more next time.  And the time after that.  And again after that.  The sad part was knowing that Santa had won, but at great cost, and only for a little while, and that defeat was eminent.  That, IMHO, made it the saddest Christmas story ever.
(still, great writing!)



Windup

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1226
Reply #26 on: January 07, 2008, 09:43:25 PM
Now this was good stuff -- if combining Christmas with the heat death of the universe isn't an awsome SF idea, I don't know what is.  And as many posters mentioned, the writing was excellent.

As for the inevitable loss to entropy being sad -- I don't know about you, but that's the life I'm living, and I admire anyone who can put up a good fight and inspire me to do the same.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2008, 09:57:04 PM by Windup »

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Stoffern

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #27 on: January 11, 2008, 02:30:20 PM
I may be forgetting a story somewhere, but In the Late December wins my award for most depressing Escape Pod story EVER.
I find little enjoyment in a story where it's pretty much understood from the start that everything that happens in it is of little consequence because everyone will give up sooner or later and disolve into nothingness anyway...

The nicest thing I can say about this story is I'm glad it wasn't the only christmass story on EP this year.

This is my first post here but I've listened a long time now, and I find EPs ratio of positive to negative stories to be worrying at times.

Stoffern



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #28 on: January 11, 2008, 05:00:36 PM
That's interesting.  I thought this was actually a relatively optimistic story, albeit a sad one. 


robertmarkbram

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • The Blog for Rob
Reply #29 on: January 11, 2008, 06:03:50 PM
That's interesting.  I thought this was actually a relatively optimistic story, albeit a sad one. 

I agree with this - sad yet optimistic. I was wondering idly if a) that was really the end of the Big Black and 2) if Santa has the will to start creating a new world?


Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #30 on: January 11, 2008, 06:56:46 PM
That's interesting.  I thought this was actually a relatively optimistic story, albeit a sad one. 

I agree with this - sad yet optimistic. I was wondering idly if a) that was really the end of the Big Black and 2) if Santa has the will to start creating a new world?

I thought it just meant that Santa made it through this year, but he'd lose next year or the year after.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #31 on: January 11, 2008, 08:34:48 PM
One thought I had in the end is that maybe Santa was planning to give what remained of himself to the little girl. Let her survive a while longer.

I think Big Empty was completely destroyed, though - I think he was an actual entity that was cannibalizing his peers, hastening their demise, not just an abstraction. Though the story did obscure those boundries so who knows...



Czhorat

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 135
Reply #32 on: January 12, 2008, 04:19:41 PM
One thought I had in the end is that maybe Santa was planning to give what remained of himself to the little girl. Let her survive a while longer.

I think Big Empty was completely destroyed, though - I think he was an actual entity that was cannibalizing his peers, hastening their demise, not just an abstraction. Though the story did obscure those boundries so who knows...

That's not quite how I read it. I saw the Big Empty as something beyond Santa's ability to completely eradicate; remember that he DID sacrifice Mrs. Claus in the previous battle without quite winning the war. I also don't think Santa's quite ready to give himself up; he and the last little girl will enjoy a few moments together before the inevitable end of anything. When they lose it won't be without having fought and it won't be without having experienced just a tiny bit more.

Part of the key to why I read it like that lies in the title and the closing line; it's late December. The days are short, it's getting cold, and the year is soon to end. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon.

The Word of Nash is the word of Nash and it is Nash's word.


Roney

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 440
Reply #33 on: January 13, 2008, 06:40:09 PM
This had everything I could want from a Christmas episode: a Santa with a reason for giving gifts, little boys and girls who deserved to receive them, fundamental truths about the nature of the universe dramatized in mythic terms, an epic battle in space and the chill atmosphere of a classic Christmas ghost story.  If you'd asked me to combine all those elements in one package I wouldn't have known where to start.

And a Jonathan Coulton song.  Perfect.



Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #34 on: January 13, 2008, 07:33:28 PM

I find little enjoyment in a story where it's pretty much understood from the start that everything that happens in it is of little consequence because everyone will give up sooner or later and dissolve into nothingness anyway...


Yeah!  Isn't that "reality"?  You know, the thing we come here to Escape from?  In our... um, Pod... and stuff?

Thing is, being Late December implies an Early January to come; after the Big [dead] Empty of winter, we're allowed to hope for the Big Bang of spring, aren't we?

(Sometimes you just have to make up your own happy little ending, don't you find?)

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #35 on: January 14, 2008, 05:01:07 PM
This made me want to believe in Santa again.

Beautiful.



Jhite

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • Great Hites
Reply #36 on: January 17, 2008, 02:54:26 PM

I find little enjoyment in a story where it's pretty much understood from the start that everything that happens in it is of little consequence because everyone will give up sooner or later and dissolve into nothingness anyway...


Yeah!  Isn't that "reality"?  You know, the thing we come here to Escape from?  In our... um, Pod... and stuff?

Thing is, being Late December implies an Early January to come; after the Big [dead] Empty of winter, we're allowed to hope for the Big Bang of spring, aren't we?

(Sometimes you just have to make up your own happy little ending, don't you find?)

I like your Optimism.  You don't see a happy ending. Make one up!  I think we all need that.

Captain James T. Kirk
I'm sorry I can't here you over the sound of how awesome I am
http://GreatHites.blogspot.com


DDog

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 187
    • Twitter
Reply #37 on: January 17, 2008, 07:39:50 PM
I loved this story. It's depressing and optimistic all at once in very heartfelt ways. Maybe the actual story wasn't quite all the way there, but it got more than far enough for me to make the leap on my own. And although I'm listening to it late, it was exactly what I needed to hear today.

Re: Mrs. Claus -- If she disappeared when Santa let go of her in order to have more strength, she would have disappeared when he did anyway, along with the reindeer, his workshop, and the North Pole; unlike, it seemed, the Silver Boy and Little Orphan Cephalopod. The other consciousness-clusters derived some staying power from Santa, but they seemed to have their own power and could survive or disappear largely on their own.

Ask a Tranny Podcast
"Watching someone bootstrap themselves into sentience is the most science fiction thing you can do." -wintermute


glucoseboy

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Reply #38 on: January 17, 2008, 10:21:28 PM
I wanted to chime in and say that I really enjoyed this story, depressing ending and all.  I cared for all characters and appreciated the gradual uncovering of the details (I noted when Santa waived to no one at the beginning of the story that Mrs. Claus was gone, I never dreamed that it was Mr. Claus that "off'd her")

Steve, I have three words for you:  "More Jonathan Coulton!"

Oh, and Happy New Year!



DDog

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 187
    • Twitter
Reply #39 on: January 17, 2008, 10:44:57 PM
Steve, I have three words for you:  "More Jonathan Coulton!"
Oh yeah! I forgot about the song. That was definitely win. I heard "I Feel Fantastic" on Subknit and couldn't stop laughing at that one either.

EDIT: Indeed, looking for "I Feel Fantastic," I found a contest run by Popular Science to make a music video for the song. The winner and runners-up are pretty funny if you can listen to the song six times in a row.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2008, 10:54:34 PM by DDog »

Ask a Tranny Podcast
"Watching someone bootstrap themselves into sentience is the most science fiction thing you can do." -wintermute


Myrealana

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
    • Bad Foodie
Reply #40 on: January 28, 2008, 05:53:47 PM
I loved this story - trimphant and sad, grand and personal - I was impressed.

And I agree - More Jonathan Coulton!

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book


Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #41 on: January 29, 2008, 02:33:24 AM
I saw this, and thought of y'all:


This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


CammoBlammo

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 199
Reply #42 on: January 29, 2008, 06:24:21 AM
A couple of people have posted wondering whether or not there was any point to Santa's defeat of Big Empty, and whether or not he'd just have to do it again next year.

I had another listen to this last week, and remember Santa telling the reindeer that it was time to finish this once and for all. So as far as Santa was concerned, Big Empty was destroyed, and there were just enough details left to make Santa's victory more than Pyrrhic.

I wonder what the future held. If Santa can create toys for every child in the universe, I wonder if he can create universe? Is it just a matter of filling in the details?



Planish

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
    • northernelectric.ca
Reply #43 on: February 20, 2008, 05:14:19 AM
I'm afraid this story ended up in my "bottom ten" episodes, just barely above Ep106: The House Beyond your Sky, for pretty much similar reasons.
It might have been okay as a flash piece.

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


cuddlebug

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 145
Reply #44 on: May 05, 2008, 09:27:32 AM
Wow, I loved this story. I know, Christmas is the last thing on anyone's mind, but this was so much more than a Christmas story. (... and although I had decided not to post comments on older stories, given that I am working my way backwards through them, I wanted to add a few praises to this one, since it really cheered me up on my way to work, YES, it CHEERED me up!).

For one, I have to say I love the combination of familiar 'details' with a science fiction setting. I always find that refreshing and enjoy reinterpreting familiar concepts by looking at them from a different perspective.

It really reminded me of The Neverending Story (Michael Ende, 1979) and I love The-End-of-the-World stories in general, it brings out the best and the worst in people/'conscience clusters' and gives so much food for thought/literature...

I enjoyed the idea that details reinforce one's coherence, ... äh consciousness, which makes me think that listening to these stories should make me more coherent, ... so thanks SFEly, you are contributing to saving all of us from the 'Big Empty' every week, and I for one am extremely grateful for it.  ;)

And the notion that 'the sum (synergy) of 2 things' can be so much more than '1+1'. I loved that one.

So, gotta go find my Christmas stocking now, I don't think I even checked it last year, maybe I've got one of those 'silver guns' or 'sparkly lights' in it. Always eager to add details....




Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #45 on: March 12, 2010, 06:42:58 PM
I liked it overall.  It took me a while to get grounded in the story universe, but that's to be expected in something as bizarre as this.  The villain reminded me of a deity which I read about in Tad Williams' Otherland series, which I believe was rooted in African Aboriginal mythology--something like the All-Eater (or some similar name).  Ah, I need to go back and read that series again--one of my favorites!

Anyway, I liked how Santa's belief in little boys and girls kept them intact, and how he kept on doing what he was doing even though there wasn't much of a universe left.

"In the Late December", at first glance , seems to imply dark times and lack of hope, but after Dec. 21 the days start getting longer again, so for me that's one of the exciting days of the year when the daylight hours expand!  So I suppose at the end, with the defeat of the one responsible for consuming the universe, that can be seen as the hopeful moment when the days start getting longer again.  (In the story it seemed to imply that the enemy was an actually entity who could be defeated, so now Santa can try to rebuild).