Author Topic: EP375: Marley and Cratchit  (Read 10919 times)

Devoted135

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1252
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #20 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.

Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8657
    • Diabolical Plots
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #21 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.  :)
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 01:01:00 PM by Unblinking »

Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3794
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #22 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.

I think you're mistaken. Clearly it was Camilla, since Gonzo takes over narration of A Christmas Carol.
All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

Scumpup

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 102
  • ...
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #23 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.

Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 338
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #24 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!

:)

RestlessWonderer

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #25 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.

CryptoMe

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1042
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #26 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.... ;)

jwbjerk

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 28
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #27 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.

El Barto

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #28 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.

Thunderscreech

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 338
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2013, 06:28:23 PM »
Oh man, wait'll you watch Star Wars.  You are gonna be pissed...

El Barto

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #30 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.)

Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4880
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #31 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.
---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book

El Barto

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #32 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.

Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4880
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #33 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.
---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book

Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8657
    • Diabolical Plots
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #34 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...
:)

Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3794
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #35 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.
All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8657
    • Diabolical Plots
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #36 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.

Jim Shorts

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #37 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.

childoftyranny

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 175
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #38 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...

hardware

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 192
Re: EP375: Marley and Cratchit
« Reply #39 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.