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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:11 am
by moonowl
ROU Killing Time wrote: 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.
We are seeing this from Morris' perspective and as him as the main character. We can't really determine anything about Penny accept via his observations and opinions of her. He never says 'she was drinking so I hid in the basement.'. I assume he would have, since he narrated that he disapproves of her smoking, her anger, her facial expressions and everything else she does.

Because this is HIS story, he is the one that is easier to find fault in. If it was a story that was more about Penny, we could say more about her drinking problem and her responsibility. Of course it takes two to tango in a relationship. Of course no one forces booze down anyone or makes anyone stay. But it's not about Penny really. It's about Morris and his choices, so I criticize him.

All I can say if I knew someone that was married to Morris I'd tell her to leave him. He wants her to cheerfully hand over her future and money as he does what he pleases. He wants to control what she does by his disapproval of her emotions and behavior. He doesn't ask for her input or share with him. He spends her money with no concern. Frankly he is an abusive jerkface and I only know that because he narrates it himself. Penny could be just as bad, but she is a supplementary character and we don't know enough about her.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:01 am
by ROU Killing Time
It's true, we know more about Morris than Penny, because the narrative is from his perspective, as the reader/listener we have a view into his thought processes through his eyes. He seems to know very well that he is, in essence, cheating with the prior alternate Penelopes, so much so that the story closes with him being very aware that he can't really argue with her confrontation. He really has no motivation to lie to the reader. He doesn't know he's a fictional character in a story, so I tend to take the descriptions of her drinking, 20 cigarettes in an evening, and intentional use of a trophy he valued as an ash-tray at face value. He doesn't know he's being looked at by us, the readers. His honest portrayal of his own jerk-facedness is precisely what lends credence to his descriptions of how Penny is behaving. I think it would be a cheap literary trick for him to have painted Penny as an abusive alcoholic and be lying about that, without later making it clear to the reader that he was being deceptive on this point.

If I were sitting and chatting with Morris and he were my friend relating this story, my advice would be a) stop diddling around in the past, come clean with Penny, confront her on her drinking, get to marriage counseling, and if she's willing to get help for her alcoholism and willing to work through the problem of the time-traveling shenanigans then there may be the smallest hope of salvaging what was once a love that seemed beautiful and fulfilling to both of them at one time.

If that small chance was not in the cards, if Penny wasn't willing to work on her problem, if he wasn't willing to work on his, well my advice would be regretfully to the both of them, that perhaps divorce would be the best option.

But it should always be the last option. Divorce is a terrible thing, and in these two time-crossed lovers case, one that seems all but inevitable.

Which is why I see this story as a masterfully rendered tragedy, rather than an indictment of either Morris or Penny.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:27 pm
by strawman
If you think it's difficult to penetrate the denial of an addict, it isn't nearly as difficult as trying to penetrate the curtain of oblivion that separates you from Morris.

I was reminded of the similarity especially in the horror genre. You want to counsel Morris and Penny and save their marriage. But, hell, if you could just get that idiot teenager to look behind her in Scarbrains II, she'd still be a slut, but she'd have a head. Or lock the damn bathroom door in Psycho. Or don't go swimming in Jaws. These characters are so self-absorbed that they are totally deaf to our best-intentioned advice. Charlie the Giraffe tried to penetrate this barrier from the other side, and look what it got him! A straight-jacket followed by existential annihilation of his entire universe.

It is our curse as outside observers to be helpless witnesses. In more ways than one we are like Morris. No matter how many times we go back and replay Morris' past, observing each time, just as Morris does, that things are not exactly the same, we always return to the same unchanged present, in which neither Morris nor Penny has listened to us or learned anything at all.

But each time we do this, we become a little more involved, a little more engaged and attached.

Let me warn you, ROU, while you can still hear, while there is still a chance: Mr. Pratt has constructed a Loop Abattoir Conveyor. Just at the point where he draws you in to the stories edge, the hook comes up, sinks into your shoulder blades, and carries you off into the screaming void.

Next thing you know, you're just another red marbled slab on a styrofoam tray wrapped in saran, and your wife is tossing you in her cart beside the 24-pack of beer she has gotten fond of since you took to disappearing.

Screw Adsense. Drabblecast has a new business model.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:47 pm
by ROU Killing Time
Hmm, yes, as readers we are helpless to do anything about Morris and Penny's codependency.

I thought Norm wanted to build a new more reliable forum, not an abattoir. And Strawman, why are you wearing those silly antlers.

It's been an interesting thread. What did you say the old record for story feedback was? Pretty sure it must have been broken by now.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:58 pm
by LaFleur
I really enjoyed this story. It made me cry deep inside.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:22 pm
by Talia
moonowl wrote: Because this is HIS story, he is the one that is easier to find fault in. If it was a story that was more about Penny, we could say more about her drinking problem and her responsibility. Of course it takes two to tango in a relationship. Of course no one forces booze down anyone or makes anyone stay. But it's not about Penny really. It's about Morris and his choices, so I criticize him.

I had the opposite reaction. Because I was hearing it from his point of view, I found myself sympathizing more with him.

But then, I have a soft spot for f**k-ups and other messed up people. :)

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:21 pm
by strawman
ROU Killing Time wrote:Hmm, yes, as readers we are helpless to do anything about Morris and Penny's codependency.

It's been an interesting thread. What did you say the old record for story feedback was? Pretty sure it must have been broken by now.
The old record was 56 comments on Time Shift, 55 comments on Teddy Bears, and 48 on Jelly Park. Morris is now at 85. But when you look at "views", Morris has 355, and Jelly is off the charts with 2,332. We had a lot fewer members back at Jelly time, but a whole lotta lurking.
ROU Killing Time wrote:I thought Norm wanted to build a new more reliable forum, not an abattoir.
That's what the cows thought.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:50 pm
by themorg
strawman wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote:Hmm, yes, as readers we are helpless to do anything about Morris and Penny's codependency.

It's been an interesting thread. What did you say the old record for story feedback was? Pretty sure it must have been broken by now.
The old record was 56 comments on Time Shift, 55 comments on Teddy Bears, and 48 on Jelly Park. Morris is now at 85. But when you look at "views", Morris has 355, and Jelly is off the charts with 2,332. We had a lot fewer members back at Jelly time, but a whole lotta lurking.
ha ha you were lurking.

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

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:00 am
by strawman
PS: Another long-standing record has fallen without due notice! Last Saturday night, 29 simultaneous forum members crammed into the DC forum telephone booth. Simultaneously and at the same time.

(Probably looking for the Winter Olympics.)

C'mon, Lurkers! Stand up, slip on an avatar, and show ye'selves! Git yer own personal signed welcome from Ole Tom and ROU. Fly up to the light and let grandma git a good look at yer.

Mmmm... Lurkers.

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

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:20 am
by tbaker2500
strawman wrote:PS: Another long-standing record has fallen without due notice! Last Saturday night, 29 simultaneous forum members crammed into the DC forum telephone booth. Simultaneously and at the same time.

(Probably looking for the Winter Olympics.)

C'mon, Lurkers! Stand up, slip on an avatar, and show ye'selves! Git yer own personal signed welcome from Ole Tom and ROU. Fly up to the light and let grandma git a good look at yer.

Mmmm... Lurkers.
Really? Excellent- That record has stood at 27 since '07.
Uhmm... What does that say about what we collectively do on a saturday night?

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

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:31 am
by strawman
tbaker2500 wrote: Uhmm... What does that say about what we collectively do on a saturday night?
Go, band?

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

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:41 am
by ROU Killing Time
I loved Time Shift.

Norm's robotic "I never liked him" was awesome.

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

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:00 am
by treeman
Time Shift did rock.

So did this story. Made me teary eyed, and it's been awhile since Drabblecast did that. Floating Over Time was the last time I think.

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

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:19 am
by El Barto
[Clapping]

[Still Clapping]

A wonderful story and a fascinatingly clever cautionary tale. Going back and doing it once or twice may be understandable but it soon became a crippling addiction that ruined his real life.

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

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:55 pm
by Poppydragon
Loved this, proper, PROPER story telling. If this doesn't make top 5 at then end of the year I'll be amazed (there again if it doesn't how awesome are the ones that do going to be).

Hats off, low bows and tumultuous applause for Mr Pratt for this one. Time travel, a cautionary tale, a love story and a tragedy all in one piece. Wow!

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

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:15 pm
by swamp
I recently watched The Time Traveler's Wife and kept thinking back to this story. The movie (I haven't read the book) also throws in some sexual ethics plot points as well as subtle manipulation. These types of exploration are the reason I enjoy time travel stories so much.

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

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:26 pm
by DKT
God, this one just broke my heart. Another excellent story from Tim Pratt. Yay for DC!

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

Posted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:29 pm
by Unblinking
Wow this story was great!

It's one of those stories that really made me think. Morris's machine is so powerful and yet so useless. It's like a secret VR reel of the past, he can't do much except doing the same things over again trying to recapture the perfect moment early in their relationship. Yes he's an ass, but just think of how tempting it would be to be able to return to those early years of a relationship when everything was euphoric and fresh and new. It would be a hard temptation to avoid, and now he's ruined his present beyond recognition by continuing the addiction. It very much makes me wonder what I would do given that exact situation, and thinking about that scares me, but at the same time makes me feel more resolved to make the most of my life instead of trying to recapture moments past, because it will cause nothing but problems.

Oh, and the sexual ethics of this did remind me some of The Time Traveler's Wife. Not in a bad way, mind you.

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

Posted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:24 pm
by strawman
As I recall, The Time Traveler's Wife's sexual ethics was memorable for its utter lack of any.
Didn't he take his own virginity?

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

Posted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:55 pm
by Unblinking
strawman wrote:As I recall, The Time Traveler's Wife's sexual ethics was memorable for its utter lack of any.
Didn't he take his own virginity?
Well for me there was one intriguing bit of sexual ethics. SPOILER for anyone who hasn't seen the movie.

As he gets older he decides he doesn't want to have kids, because his random-time-jumping might be genetically passed on. So he gets a vasectomy without even talking to her about it. She finds about it sooner or later, and is upset, and the next time one of his younger pre-vasectomy selves comes popping by, she decides to get herself pregnant by him and succeeds in doing so.

That's a confusing bit of ethics there for me. She didn't cheat on him, but rather than talking it out about whether they wanted to have children she used a version of himself before he made the decision not to have kids, in order to have kids. I'm not totally sure if that's unethical, and I go back and forth on the question (though it does seem like there are intentional communication problems stemming from both sides).