Drabblecast 150 - Morris and the Machine

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by dreamrock » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:18 pm

jfmarchini wrote:I agree with the notion repeatedly stated above: This Morris, and probably most of the other ones don't live in their present, they live their past. They don't know that what they are missing in their lives is exactly what they can't see standing next to them. And hardest of all, even if he could do what he longed to do which is to some way change his own past, the way he fantasizes he could, I don't think that would make him any less unhappy.
Welcome to the forum. :)
timpratt wrote:Wow. I'm not going to say too much, because an author coming in and blathering can kill a conversation dead, but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who's engaged so much with this story. I appreciate it immensely.
It's awesome to have you here, man. I'll avoid going majorly fangirl, but you write some incredible stories and it always makes me think an author is that much more kickass when they're willing to enter the fray and talk their audience in a forum like this. I look forward to seeing more of your work here. :D
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by moonowl » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:47 pm

jfmarchini wrote: I agree with the notion repeatedly stated above: This Morris, and probably most of the other ones don't live in their present, they live their past. They don't know that what they are missing in their lives is exactly what they can't see standing next to them. And hardest of all, even if he could do what he longed to do which is to some way change his own past, the way he fantasizes he could, I don't think that would make him any less unhappy.
It makes me think of people who still live back in the days when they went to high school. They were ball players, cheerleaders, the popular kids with everything to look forward to. Now they only live in quiet desperation stuck in an office, muscle has went to fat and with 3 kids they are trying to get into college. Instead of thinking of ways to make their current lives better (coach, join the Y, go back to school and get a better job) they just tell stories about the good old days and only look forward to the 30th Reunion.

Morris COULD have chosen a different path. He could have opened up and shared with his wife instead of trying to use technology for his selfish ends. Instead, he locked the door, literally. He never learned anything. If we had the same machine, would it give us insight to make a better now, or would most of us end up like Morris?
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by moonowl » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:51 pm

normsherman wrote:
moonowl wrote:I hope we have something lighter, fun, or more fantastic next time though. We've has a few creepy/sad ones in a row now. Not bitchin', but I've been snowbound for days and like I need MORE depression...
One step ahead of ya. (Keep in mind that step was planned in late November.)

Thanks Norm! I have no problems with sad, dark and creepy when I don't feel like I'm living in the dark arctic tundra. Blech!
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by mewse » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:55 pm

ROU Killing Time wrote: but it still leaves the question about where the millions from the stock gains came from. That would be a plot hole that would leave me feeling unsatisfied.
If you go back and listen again (there's so much in this story that you don't pick up until the second or third listen!), Morris-Prime tells Alternate-Penny that she won't be able to make enough from the stocks to fix the upcoming financial troubles, but that it'll help. And he very carefully tells her to never let Alternate-Morris know about where this money came from.

We don't really know how much money we're talking about, but.. it probably isn't millions.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by ROU Killing Time » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:16 pm

moonowl wrote: It makes me think of people who still live back in the days when they went to high school. They were ball players, cheerleaders, the popular kids with everything to look forward to. Now they only live in quiet desperation stuck in an office, muscle has went to fat and with 3 kids they are trying to get into college. Instead of thinking of ways to make their current lives better (coach, join the Y, go back to school and get a better job) they just tell stories about the good old days and only look forward to the 30th Reunion.

Morris COULD have chosen a different path. He could have opened up and shared with his wife instead of trying to use technology for his selfish ends. Instead, he locked the door, literally. He never learned anything. If we had the same machine, would it give us insight to make a better now, or would most of us end up like Morris?
Yes, Morris lived in the past and locked the door to the basement. Penny also lived in her past of youthful drinking that had grown into adult alcoholism and locked the door to her heart.

I wonder if financial success would really have solved anything for these two, or would it have just allowed Morris to buy more toys for his basement and Penny to upgrade to higher grades of booze.

Living with an alcoholic is never easy, and I'm sure many people here may have had direct experience. Often the alcoholic will place the blame for their drinking on those around them when, in fact, they are the only, and I mean only person that has the power to not pick up that bottle.

I told my first wife about this story. We were also high school lovers, then married for 16 years.

It made her cry, for most of the reasons that the story touched me so deeply. One comment she made that seems to strike deeply with me is that it's easy to say "for better or worse" when things are better, and it's sad when both parties don't have the strength, or the vision, or the wisdom to fight through the times when things are worse.

Neither of us blame the other for our parting of the ways. Both of us blame ourselves as a couple for failing to find the way through those hard times.

So, try and go easy on Morris and Penny. Certainly, they are both fallible and flawed human beings.

But then again, aren't we all?
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Richmazzer » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:24 am

ROU Killing Time wrote: Yes, Morris lived in the past and locked the door to the basement. Penny also lived in her past of youthful drinking that had grown into adult alcoholism and locked the door to her heart.
That's what I got on to say! durn. :x
As others have mentioned, there are lots of layers and themes going on in this one, and I thought the subtle line telling us that Penny used to be a wild drinker/party girl was a neat way of saying that she too may be trying to revisit her past with an addiction that parallel's Morris's.

That is a really interesting point that Mewse brought up about Penny knowing already, and it's worth conjecturing over, but I feel like the author would have given us an indication in her behavior if that was the case. She seems genuine in her ignorance of the time machine/affair with other Penny's.

I also shared this story with my wife and it made her cry (in a thoughtful way, not an injured way!) Part of it I think is because it does connect, in a very raw way, with the flaws and past mistakes that many of us have had or encountered. And the other part of it, (as usual), is the expert readings and use of music. :)

Awesome to have Mr. Pratt on the forums! I'm glad he gets to see how much we loved his story.

Oh yah, and here's a defense for Morris I think we are forgetting. Remember, his machine will only take him to that one time/place. He gets a very limited amount of time in that world, I mean, what else is he gonna do? If I was in that situation, I'd probably do the same thing. Would I also want to go meet Ben Franklin, walk around Renaissance England, watch ancient pyramids get built and look at live dinosaurs? Hell ya! But Morris can't do any of that, and that's a huge bummer to him. Had he other options he'd probably become addicted to riding pterodactyls instead of addicted to nostalgia/17 year old Penny. Just sayin.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Richmazzer » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:27 am

Oh yah, and cool Drabble, really liked it.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by tbaker2500 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:36 am

ROU Killing Time wrote:So, try and go easy on Morris and Penny. Certainly, they are both fallible and flawed human beings.

But then again, aren't we all?
This right here is why a story like this is good. We can afford to pick apart fictional people, all of us believing we would have the strength to be different, be better than the main characters. We can do this to fictional people. I am reminded of the horror that is tabloid TV "news" shows, including all the main news networks these days, where real people are picked apart relentlessly by people who are paid to be even more judgmental than we are being here. Lord help us if any one of us got the spotlight of their "coverage".
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by ROU Killing Time » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:20 am

tbaker2500 wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote:So, try and go easy on Morris and Penny. Certainly, they are both fallible and flawed human beings.

But then again, aren't we all?
This right here is why a story like this is good. We can afford to pick apart fictional people, all of us believing we would have the strength to be different, be better than the main characters. We can do this to fictional people. I am reminded of the horror that is tabloid TV "news" shows, including all the main news networks these days, where real people are picked apart relentlessly by people who are paid to be even more judgmental than we are being here. Lord help us if any one of us got the spotlight of their "coverage".
Indeed, Mr. Baker, indeed.

Which nicely lets me segue to another round of applause to the author, who created fictional characters that have such a ring of truth to them.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:44 pm

Phenopath wrote:
timpratt wrote: 1. Alas, since the story was first published in 2007, it's not eligible for any awards... except the ones from Drabblecast. :)
Subtle ;)

Keep 'em coming Tim.
:idea:
I know how Tim can get a Hugo Award with a story written in 2007. But the effect of the ironic blast might damage his basement.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by HPHovercraft » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:07 pm

ROU Killing Time wrote:I could say so much about this episode, but I'll sum it up by saying that the rest of the year will be a search for numbers 2 through 5 in my 2010 Peoples Choice votes.
I beg your pardon, don't you mean 3 through 5? Apart from that horrendous omission (which means, I'm afraid, ROU Killing Time is Going to Die) I totally agree...
moonowl wrote:It's not a bad thing, growing old together, but who wouldn't want to take a trip back?
I think exactly that sentiment is part of what Tim is exploring. Things in the present *are* different between Morris & Penny - and it's at least partly his own fault, it must be said. Although Morris tries to convince himself he's "seizing what happiness he can" he's actually only making the present worse. Not directly, by changing the time line, but by comparing present with past. Finding out the past really *was* as happy as you remember it makes now seem so much worse than it did before you found out.

Also worth pointing out that this drives Morris' own addiction. Penny is a drinker; Morris is a time traveller. Or perhaps more accurate to say that Morris' addiction is living in the past. It's just that he can do it literally, unlike most people. I'm not sure whether you were supposed to think that (Penny started drinking for fun rather than to blot out the pain), but that's how it seems to me. Also, neither seems to realise they are addicted.

I don't know where I'm going with that thread other than to say that it ended at the right place, and it would have to have been longer to examine that aspect, and I'm not sure it would have added anything.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:15 pm

Reminds me of one of my favorite E.A. Robinson poems:

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam's neighbors.

Minever mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Minever loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."
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Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by HPHovercraft » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:23 pm

moonowl wrote:
jfmarchini wrote: If we had the same machine, would it give us insight to make a better now, or would most of us end up like Morris?
Most of us would end up like Morris.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:30 pm

But we don't need a time machine to end up like Morris. We have one in our basements.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by timpratt » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:07 pm

I thought some of you might be interested in this poem I wrote for my wife for Valentine's Day, as it also involves love and time travel....

http://tim-pratt.livejournal.com/106839.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by themorg » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:32 pm

strawman wrote:
Phenopath wrote:
timpratt wrote: 1. Alas, since the story was first published in 2007, it's not eligible for any awards... except the ones from Drabblecast. :)
Subtle ;)

Keep 'em coming Tim.
:idea:
I know how Tim can get a Hugo Award with a story written in 2007. But the effect of the ironic blast might damage his basement.
so you are saying the story is (or could become) Autobiographical?
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by strawman » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:36 pm

timpratt wrote:I thought some of you might be interested in this poem I wrote for my wife for Valentine's Day, as it also involves love and time travel....

http://tim-pratt.livejournal.com/106839.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false
All that's left to prove your love is to write it in heiroglyphic form on indestructible material and send it off into space. Then you could forever be entertained by imagining whoever might find and decypher the message in the bottle.
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."
Known Some Call Is Air Am
Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by ROU Killing Time » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:23 pm

timpratt wrote:I thought some of you might be interested in this poem I wrote for my wife for Valentine's Day, as it also involves love and time travel....

http://tim-pratt.livejournal.com/106839.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false
I like the bit about sandwiches.

So many people think "Buy Microsoft or Google" but landing the patent on the sandwich? That's brilliant.

You were really thinking outside the lunchbox.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by moonowl » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:10 am

ROU Killing Time wrote: I wonder if financial success would really have solved anything for these two...

It may not have magically solved everything, but they would have been in a better place to start from.
Morris could have sold the damn thing/developed the technology instead of being a selfish and controlling bastich.

The perhaps they wouldn't have been broke. He could have had the help and technical resources of others to help it work better. Perhaps he could have helped humanity with his invention. He wouldn't of had to hide from his wife. He could have sent her to rehab and paid for the best services available. He may have been home at night to support her instead of being in a basement.

Instead he kept it to himself. Mostly so he could keep on masturbating with the past. Nice.

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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by ROU Killing Time » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:34 am

moonowl wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote: I wonder if financial success would really have solved anything for these two...

It may not have magically solved everything, but they would have been in a better place to start from.
Morris could have sold the damn thing/developed the technology instead of being a selfish and controlling bastich.

The perhaps they wouldn't have been broke. He could have had the help and technical resources of others to help it work better. Perhaps he could have helped humanity with his invention. He wouldn't of had to hide from his wife. He could have sent her to rehab and paid for the best services available. He may have been home at night to support her instead of being in a basement.

Instead he kept it to himself. Mostly so he could keep on masturbating with the past. Nice.
Hmm, yes, no disagreement that Morris was doing his part in hurting the relationship with his forays into the past. Still, I'm not sure that it is at all clear that she was drinking because he had distanced himself. It seems equally likely, in fact implied by the narrative, that he was retreating to the basement as an escape from his wife's alcoholism. Certainly, you are correct, he admitted that he could have made money from ancillary discoveries that he made in the development of the machine. As far as that paying for rehab, well AA doesn't cost anything. The biggest obstacle would have been getting Penny to agree to AA or a more expensive treatment option. Denial in an addict is a very strong force to overcome.

Also, he did play a big part by not laying down an ultimatum and saying "look Penny, you have a problem, and either you get help with it, or I'm going to have to leave you."

I still don't think you can minimize Penny's responsibility for her drinking, however. She was the one that went to the liquor store, cracked the seal on the booze, and fed her addiction.

Maybe it all ends with them getting into marriage counseling, Penny going to AA, and Morris going to Al-Anon. We'll never know, the story ends before we find out what happens. It may well have just gone to divorce.

It's still just sad to me that the young happy lovers, the bright inventor Morris, full of promise, the perky Penny, full of lust and zeal for life, ended up in such a dark and abysmal place. That's the big picture that I see as having been so artfully rendered by the author. The failings of each of them make up the brush strokes of what, to me, is the larger theme here.
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