Posted on December 2, 2005 Posted by John Scalzi 19 Comments
Just as an FYI, I’ve posted two of the three Christmas stories I wrote a couple of years up on a "miscellaneous" blog here at Scalzi.com. The first of these is a poem called "Jackie Jones and Melrose Mandy," in which a spoiled little girl learns there’s more to life than getting everything you want, and the second is "Sarah’s Sister," which is a Christmas story I wrote pretty much to get my mother-in-law to bawl like a baby (it worked). Both of these stories do not come anywhere close to the level of snark I usually promulgate here, and indeed "Sarah’s Sister" may be the absolutely least snarky thing I’ve ever written — the anti-snark, if you will. Just so you know (if you want snark, you’ll want to revisit my "10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time," which I wrote at the same time and then subsequently sold to NationalLampoon.com).
I gave some thought to writing a couple of new christmas stories this year, but being terminally disorganized as I am I haven’t done so yet. Still, I have a particularly nasty abuse of Santa rolling about in my head that I might get to. I make no promises.
Nasty as The Christmas Rat?
I don’t know that one.
You critiqued it at ConFuzion last year.
Oh! NOW I remember — but it was at Penguicon. And as it happens I still have the Penguicon Workshop reader right here on my bookshelf. Um, yeah. Probably not that nasty. But you never know.
Did you know the meanings of the characters’ names when you picked them?
Re: “Sarah’s Sister”.
Wow. I had a pretty good idea what was coming, and you still got me. That is storytelling.
Are you going to leave it at that location for a while? Because I’d like to post a link to it if that’s ok.
Yup, it’s there permanently.
I’m sorry, but “Sarah’s Sister” creeped me out. Sorry if this functions as a spoiler, but it postulates an absolutely ghastly medical error.
I’m reminded of the one thing that bothered me about the otherwise delightful “Agent to the Stars,” which was the offhandedness with which one of the principal characters is killed off, with the plot function of providing the story’s punchline.
“I’m sorry, but ‘Sarah’s Sister’ creeped me out. Sorry if this functions as a spoiler, but it postulates an absolutely ghastly medical error.”
Possibly. However, a close reading of the story suggests an alternate explanation.
Sorry, John, but you’ll have to tell me what that alternate explanation is. I re-examined the scene, and while you don’t use the word, I can’t find any other way to read it.
I have to admit that my default interpretation of “Sarah’s Sister” was [spoilery goodness redacted — let’s let people read the piece without assumptions going in, okay? — JS]. I suppose that confirms my status as a suck.
Mind you, the mild offhandedness with which one of the principal characters is killed off in “Agent to the Stars” seemed amusingly laconic to me. So, I’m clinging to that badge of cruel misanthropy, and you’ll have to pry it from my clawed and bloodied dead hands.
“Sorry, John, but you’ll have to tell me what that alternate explanation is.”
I prefer not to. If you see a medical error, that’s fine with me.
John – If you’re referring to a 7-letter word beginning with M, that possibility occurred to me the first time I read the story.
Doesn’t make this any less the tale of a ghastly medical error narrowly averted.
Well, Simon, as I said, I have no beef with your point of view. You’re welcome to it.
My favorite interpretation of The Wizard of Oz comes from a television listing which read: “A stranger from another land kills a local and then teams up with a collection of misfits to kill again.” Which is entirely correct, as far as it goes.
It is not, however, an interpretation likely to occur to a viewer of the film, unless one has deliberately set out to be whimsical.
I have not set out to be whimsical.
Well, Simon, it occured to a least one viewer of the film, and it is neither for you nor I to say whether the interpretation is whimsical or not. We live in a world where Donald Duck comics are interpreted for their political and economic content, so it’s entirely possible the writer of that television listing was absolutely serious.
I’m not entirely sure what you want out of this discussion, Simon. You found the story creepy, I allowed you were perfectly entitled to your interpretation. If you wish to suggest others may find it creepy as well, I certainly grant that possibility, although personally I find myself hard-pressed to care. I’m not responsible for how others see it once it’s out in the world. Anecdotally, I’d note rather more people have found it not creepy than creepy, as least as far as I’ve gotten feedback on it, so that’s nice. But when one writes something one accepts that not everyone is going to see it the same way. C’est la Vie.
i am an idiot and i am lead by richard simmons
I wrote the “Wizard of Oz” summary badly quoted above for a newspaper column. The actual wording is:
“Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.”