Friday, May 27, 2011

The influence of A Christmas Carol

After writing GCDC, I was amazed at the influence of A Christmas Carol on the book. The story is a favorite of mine and I refer to it at least twice: Alex hoping he could clank chains like Marley’s ghost and he and Linda watching the Alastair Sim movie together.

But I realize now that the idea for the AfterNet probably grew out of the Dicken’s mention of the ghosts who wailed because being spirits they were no longer able to help the needy they saw:
The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
And that is a particular torment for the disembodied in my book. Before the discovery of the afterlife, the dead could do nothing when they watched their loved ones suffering. They couldn’t tell a person oblivious to an oncoming truck “Look out!” They couldn’t comfort their children on the loss of their children.

More than a few people have commented on the bleak nature of the world I created. On the surface, of course, GCDC is your standard buddy cop scenario, but if you think about it a little, it’s really a bleak picture. (Of course, I like to think the characters and story keep you from thinking about the bleakness too much.)

Anyway, the ghosts in A Christmas Carol are doomed, but Scrooge is given a chance to redeem himself, just like Munroe realizes he’s been a misery guts all his life. Having had a taste of eternity without the ability to affect the world, he’s now more than ready to talk.

Now, I can’t make a claim that the AfterNet terminal gives everyone a chance at redemption, or that if this were actually true, God forbid, that people would make different choices in their lives with the knowledge that they would have an eternity to mull over the consequences of their actions.

I think the young will still think they’ll live forever. I think bad people will still commit murder. I think those contemplating suicide will still teeter on the brink of life and death. I don’t know if the knowledge of a tangible but tenuous afterlife will sway people for good or ill. Maybe in my fictional world, the AfterNet itself will make a difference as the living learn from the mistakes of the dead, or maybe evil people who have died will simply have another chance to be evil again from beyond the grave.

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