TSS: Twas the weekend before Christmas…
…and all through the house, Nicki was not getting any reading done because she was too busy frantically trying to finish the six million presents she sort of accidentally promised people that she’d knit by Christmas.
Seriously, though, I have knit a lot over the past two weeks or so (not to mention at a more leisurely pace during November), and while I can see the light at the end of the (carpal) tunnel, I’m not so sure that it’s not the overhead light in an operating theater while a surgeon struggles to reattach my hands that have both fallen off at the wrist.
Anyways, as a result, I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like, but I would like to draw your attention to a short story for which I managed to put down the knitting long enough to read on Friday night.
“Overtime” by Charles Stross is a Christmas story in full Lovecraftian sci-fi transition. Bob Howard works for a secret alien- and magic-monitoring branch of the government, and is stuck in the office over the holidays, putting in time as the Night Duty Officer. He expects it to be nothing more than several days of sitting around being bored, but then he receives a dire warning about an unspeakable horror from beyond the stars. Something’s coming down the chimney this Christmas, but it’s sure as heck not jolly ol’ St. Nick.
This story was a fun and fast (and seasonally-appropriate) read. Its narrator wasn’t super-well developed, mostly defaulting to “brash but reluctant action hero.” Stross apparently has an entire series of books starring this character, but in short story form, the quick attempts to give him depth beyond the action of the story didn’t really work for me. Regardless, the story moves along at a good clip, and has everything you’d expect from a Christmas tale: boring office Christmas parties, prophecies and paradoxes, action and snarky humor, and the terrifying Filler of Stockings. Overall, a fun antidote to some of the more sickly-sweet Christmas fare out there.
“Overtime” can be read on Tor.com’s website, downloaded for free for the Kindle, or, if you need some seasonally-appropriate background noise while you’re wrapping presents (or knitting!), listened to in audiobook form (read by the author; slightly less than an hour long) via the Tor.com podcast (link goes to mp3 file; right-click to download).
Oh, and for such a short story, it also yielded four new vocab words: transom (a window divided by a horizontal crossbar of wood or stone), apparatchiks (a derogatory term for an official in a large organization, typically political), gelignite (a high explosive consisting of a gelatinized mass of nitroglycerin with cellulose nitrate added), and samarium (a rare-earth metallic element, atomic number 62, discovered in samarskite).
What about you, readers? What have you been reading to put yourselves in the holiday spirit?
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