Monday, December 17, 2012

The Dickens with these books?

We've discussed how A Christmas Carol has been adapted for film, but it has influenced more than dramatic adaptations, though we'll look at some other things it's inspired later. Right now, here are three examples of books Dickens has influenced. It's been adapted for picture books and comics, but these three books do different things with the story.

First up is Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula.

Mula offers a new perspective on Dickens' story: what was Marley's actual involvement in Scrooge's redemption? Dickens treats him like the opening act, but Mula reveals that Marley was actually orchestrating Scrooge's fateful night in order to earn his own redemption.

Assisted by bogle (a miniature version of himself), Marley applies for a transfer from his post-mortem existence. Thus, he not only warns Scrooge about the three Ghosts, he uses ghostly shape-shifting powers to portray the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present. But when it comes time for Christmas Future, a different hooded figure snatches Scrooge away: Death! Marley is in a race against time to save not only his soul and Scrooge's but Scrooge's life as well!

The book also creates a few new scenes: there is more dialogue between Scrooge and Marley (in all three of his forms), and Mula ventures to speculate on things Dickens doesn't answer. After Scrooge's alternate future death, we are told Fred and his wife visit Paris and Bob Cratchit reopens Scrooge's office.

The story is hardly as meaningful or as rich as Dickens' original tale, but it makes a fun aside for the story, particularly if you've ever felt sorry for Marley.

The second book is Carol for Another Christmas by Elizabeth Anne Scarborough.

Scarborough offers a brand new take on the Christmas classic: Data Banks owner Monica Banks has failed to find love and her only family—her brother Doug—is dead. So, she promises a very dangerous piece of software, allowing anyone owning a computer to be spied upon, and makes her entire staff work Christmas Day to finish it.

However, one Christmas Eve, Doug appears in her computer to warn her that she needs to change her ways. And instead of being visited by three ghosts, the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge himself materializes inside her computer, bringing her inside to see her past, the present Christmas Day, and what could be her future. (Shapeshifting seems to be a point here: Scrooge, being a ghost and in a digital environment turns himself into a replica of Queen Victoria for the present and into a clone of Monica for the future.)

Despite its technological trimmings, the story is a lot of fun and has quite a bit of heart as well, though I don't think it hits quite as hard as Dickens did. Worth checking out for a fun read.

The third book is a new, short print-on-demand offering: Cratchit and Company by Garrett Gilchrist.

This story takes place in the future that Scrooge witnessed with the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Tiny Tim has died and Bob Cratchit is dismal. However, sometimes even good men need divine intervention.

A light and enjoyable read.

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