Drabblecast 150 - Morris and the Machine

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

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:15 pm

I don't think they could find a way back. I think it would actually be a lot easier for them to reconcile if Morris had simply been picking up hookers. This is because, by going back to Young Penny, Morris is putting a definitive stamp of rejection on Old Penny. Young Penny is the one woman who Old Penny knows for certain she could never measure up to or compete with.

Extrapolation: Why does Morris want so desperately to finish the machine? I don't think he really cares about it for its own sake. I think he just wants to change his own past. It's the ultimate copout: He would be able to erase the consequences of his sins without ever having to fess up to them. Finishing the machine means absolution without confession.

This story keep getting more interesting the more I think about it...
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by tbaker2500 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:22 pm

Tweedy, doesn't this story remind you of the Braid? Not directly, but in feel.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:24 pm

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

Post by tbaker2500 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:02 pm

Uh oh.. I said something bad...

I meant the sadness, the longing. Scientists on a search. One destroys his marriage, the others create an atom bomb?
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by mewse » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:03 pm

The real kick in the teeth for me was the little combination of clues which, taken together, change the story from merely being a story of a failing marriage (with a time machine), into a proper knotted little time machine story.

Morris mentions that he was never able to visit his own past, and also that he was never able to visit the same world twice, which makes me wonder.. with all those infinite number of almost-identical timelines, what if one of all those alternate-Morrises had come to visit Penny in this world, and told her to be patient with him because he was going to build a time machine, and then everything would be wonderful?

And she's been sitting there for years - decades - waiting for things to become wonderful as the marriage sours and as debts keep piling up, and Morris keeps vanishing into the past and won't talk to her about what he's doing, even though she knows precisely what he must be working on...

Hell, that'd probably drive me to alcohol and cigarettes and bitterness, too.

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

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:21 pm

Bad? The " :!: " signifies "Wow! You're right!" There are certainly parallels, now that you mention it. The obsession destroys the thing obsessed over... Something good is destroyed by trying to perfect it...

But Braid is not about inventing The Bomb. That's just silly.

-------

Mewse: Holy cow! I hadn't thought of that! You're brilliant. I bet that's why Penny goes sour on him, and how she knows he's cheating. She's always known! She knows because she slept with his 30-something self when she was 17, and she's always known what he was going to end up doing. Their marriage was poisoned from the start, destroyed by his attempt to fix it. Imagine her perspective, knowing that her self-absorbed failure of a husband is going to go back in time and lie to her naive younger self about how they're going to be happy together, and about how he's going to a great inventor. Oh the resentment she would feel!

Epic! Horrible, but... epic!
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by dreamrock » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:07 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:His wife is dying inside, and it's all his fault.
I'd agree that his actions are a factor in his wife's state, but I think it takes away too much of her free will to say that it's his fault. He's an ass, sure, but as the advice columnists like to say, "You can't take advantage of me without my permission."

With the most recent page's interpretation that his Penny is one that has benefited from a Morris's meddling, I'd agree that it's more his fault than otherwise. But even in that case, she can still say "Well, I got a hell of a lot of money out of this situation. Let's cut."

Mr. Tweedy wrote:What he does with the younger Pennies–telling them stories of a happy future that may or may not end up being true while withholding from them the truth about his own relationship with his own Penny–is awfully damn close to rape.
I know this is the part that riled a lot of people, but I completely agree.

I know why people are objecting to the term rape. Rape is more about the power element and being violated. Violent and degrading.

In this case, the sex isn't violent and degrading. He didn't force her to have sex. But while it's not the same motivation or emotional mechanism, it's still a hugely wrong thing to do. Hugely wrong enough that I think comparing it to some other term would be seriously understating the matter.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Phenopath » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:39 am

Great story, but Morris is a dick. [for all of the reasons that Tweedy outlined - his perception of his wife is of an emasculating drunk, but by the end I have little faith in the validity of his viewpoint]

In the multiverse he is being unfaithful (as well as extremely creepy).
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Raptor Redux » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:53 am

Perhaps not rape, but it certainly meets the criteria for statutory rape. She's 17, he's what, 30+?

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

Post by moonowl » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:49 am

swamp wrote:
Oh, don't get me wrong. I am tickled to have the twabble featured and read by Norm. I just think it's funny. I never thought twice about it getting beyond the twabble thread. It was a joke between me and a friend. The image just wouldn't go away, so I thought I'd share.
Funny, I have a big hulking Irish bartender pal who moved to NOLA this fall. It really reminded me of him, flyin' monkeys and all. I'll have to send him a link.

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

Post by ROU Killing Time » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:11 am

Hmm, I have trouble with the concept that the Penny-prime (i.e. the future wife of the story) had slept with an alternate Morris, primarily because they still had financial troubles. If this had occurred, she would have ostensibly been a major shareholder in Microsoft or Google.

I suppose it's possible that she was holding out and had kept the riches hidden, but that doesn't compute with me.

If that had been the case it does add in an interesting twist, however. That would mean that Morris-prime had lived and loved a Penny that had been unfaithful with an alternate Morris years before he ever developed his time machine and went back to be unfaithful with an alternate Penny.

An interesting twist, 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. I'm more comfortable thinking that Morris and Penny Prime lived in one of the infinite worlds where Morris did not come back, not one of the infinite worlds where he did go and meet her and have a morally questionable tryst. Never saw "The Time Traveler's Wife" did they have problems like this?

All this does leave me feeling like I don't need to explain why I was happy to give my time machine to Mr.Tweedy.

My advice to him would be to take a very large axe to it.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by ROU Killing Time » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:25 am

Phenopath wrote:Great story, but Morris is a dick. [for all of the reasons that Tweedy outlined - his perception of his wife is of an emasculating drunk, but by the end I have little faith in the validity of his viewpoint]

In the multiverse he is being unfaithful (as well as extremely creepy).
Can't argue that Morris is a dick, but I'm willing to take the descriptive narrative of future Penny at face value, and that she did enjoy using one of his trophies as an ash-tray.

In the multiverse he is certainly being unfaithful, in fact he cops to that in the end. However, in the same multiverse Penny still seems to be something of a temporal Lolita. She rationalized that it was ok to sleep with future Morris since she was already sleeping with her current time Morris.

Questions of a statutory nature aside (and I'm not diminishing those questions whatsoever) even if she was sleeping with the same Morris from a linear time continuum, would she not have still been being unfaithful to the Morris of her time?

I think that they are both pretty creepy, and both pathetic in their relationship to one another.

I'm glad they didn't have kids. That would have made it an epic tragedy orders of magnitude greater than what we see in this story.

Wow, what a story. So vividly written that all of us have tossed aside the questions about style of writing, and are discussing with passion and interest the implications of the main characters tawdry existence and situation. The author seems invisible, and the characters so very real.

Bravo, Tim Pratt.

This story is a masterpiece.

It doesn't just deserve Drabblecast Peoples Choice 2010, it should receive one of the lesser honors of a Hugo or Nebula award.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:20 am

ROU Killing Time wrote:Hmm, I have trouble with the concept that the Penny-prime (i.e. the future wife of the story) had slept with an alternate Morris, primarily because they still had financial troubles. If this had occurred, she would have ostensibly been a major shareholder in Microsoft or Google.
I think you're overestimating the amount of money involved. As I understood it, Morris expected the stocks to get them enough money to pay off all their college loans and start their marriage off debt-free. We're only talking about a period of about 10 years here. Even if they bought Google on day one, that would not necessarily make them rich. Comfortable, yes, but not millionaires. People who get rich off stocks do so by continually buying and selling, reinvesting their gains for maximum profit. There is no indication that Penny does anything like that: She just bought good stocks and kept them.

I think the idea is that Morris Prime provided the Pennies and Morrises in the other timelines with enough money to get a good start out of the gate (so to speak), not enough to make them wealthy. That would be consistent with the Prime timeline: They started off in great financial shape, but then Morris pissed it all away on his machine.

That works for me, anyway.
ROU Killing Time wrote: It doesn't just deserve Drabblecast Peoples Choice 2010, it should receive one of the lesser honors of a Hugo or Nebula award.
Those awards have certainly gone to lesser stories in past years...
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by moonowl » Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:58 am

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

Post by themorg » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:18 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote:Hmm, I have trouble with the concept that the Penny-prime (i.e. the future wife of the story) had slept with an alternate Morris, primarily because they still had financial troubles. If this had occurred, she would have ostensibly been a major shareholder in Microsoft or Google.
I think the idea is that Morris Prime provided the Pennies and Morrises in the other timelines with enough money to get a good start out of the gate (so to speak), not enough to make them wealthy. That would be consistent with the Prime timeline: They started off in great financial shape, but then Morris pissed it all away on his machine.

That works for me, anyway.
So, Penny-Prime is(mostly) pissed about the adultery, and that is the thing Morris-Prime is afraid of being spoken about out loud.(he ran away to the basement before she could finish the sentence.) Morris-Prime goes and takes care of his desires with Young Penny-Alpha and to help Penny-Alpha and Morris-Alpha tells them about stocks.(Possibly hoping that he just traveled into his own past and things would suddenly be better) This Releases some of the guilt Morris-Prime felt over his own problems in his Prime-Earth.

3 questions come to me about this

1. I wonder about was there another Morris-beta that came and did the same to Penny-Prime. (giving her false hope that Morris-Prime would be a great inventor.)
2. If she knows that he is sleeping with a younger self and can't get over the guilt of what happened when she was younger thinking it was Morris-Prime.
3. If Morris-Prime is motivated by the chance of Sex with a younger Penny.

Yea i hope it wins a Nebula award.
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by normsherman » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:17 am

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

Post by jfmarchini » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:05 pm

mewse wrote:The real kick in the teeth for me was the little combination of clues which, taken together, change the story from merely being a story of a failing marriage (with a time machine), into a proper knotted little time machine story.

Morris mentions that he was never able to visit his own past, and also that he was never able to visit the same world twice, which makes me wonder.. with all those infinite number of almost-identical timelines, what if one of all those alternate-Morrises had come to visit Penny in this world, and told her to be patient with him because he was going to build a time machine, and then everything would be wonderful?

And she's been sitting there for years - decades - waiting for things to become wonderful as the marriage sours and as debts keep piling up, and Morris keeps vanishing into the past and won't talk to her about what he's doing, even though she knows precisely what he must be working on...

Hell, that'd probably drive me to alcohol and cigarettes and bitterness, too.
When I heard the story, this theory is exactly what I thought of, and thought nobody had raised this issue until I checked all replies...
But he explicitly mentions it: there are infinite realities. Even if in some of them he isn't even able to make his time machine work, in an infinite number of them they will work. Mathematically this means that ALL timelines have been visited in the past, including his own. Each alternate Morris wouldn't exactly be like the "main" one, and we don't know how the encounter played out with the "Penny". But it probably turned out exactly like the visit he describes, so she knows everything that is going on.

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.

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

Post by timpratt » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:07 pm

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. I'll limit my further comments to the following:

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

2. I was inspired to write this by a line in an Orson Scott Card story called "Prior Restraint". The story concerns a writer, who once wrote a story about a man who's convinced his wife has left him, even though she's right there every night when he comes home. I started thinking about other husband/wife complications, and wondered if it would be possible to write a story about a man who cheats on his wife... with his wife. So I sat down to figure out how and why somebody might do that. It wandered pretty far away from the line in the Card story, but I borrowed the name Morris -- there's a minor character in "Prior Restraint" with that name-- as a little homage anyway.

3. I think Morris is kind of a dick too. Nostalgia can be wonderful, or it can be poison.

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

Post by ROU Killing Time » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:52 pm

We're honored by your presence, Mr.Pratt and of all your very entertaining stories I've heard, this is by far my favorite. For me, it's an amazing piece illustrating the complex interactions in human relationships, and a very poignant look at a marriage that is failing.

I know that Morris has taken a lot of heat from the forum, and rightly so. I still don't think that Penny gets off scot-free.

A followup story and SF chick-flick needs to be developed for these two sad souls.

Call it "The Time-Traveler's Marriage Counselor." ;-)
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Re: Drabblecast 150- Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt

Post by Phenopath » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:09 pm

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.
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