Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dissecting the Dice Men

I promise, this won't be quite to the level of detail that I did with Skipped, but I feel like it deserves at least a little bit of the ol' blah blah blah. You'd expect no less from me, am I right?

Oh, and Spoiler Alert, if you haven't read The Dice Men yet. Click here or here or even here to read it first. Last warning! I mean it. OK, fine, one final chance to click here and read it before proceeding.

One of the very first offerings of feedback I ever got on The Dice Men was from a then-friend (who's not so much anymore... no, not because of what she said about my short story! Geez, do I really seem that petty? Hello, rhetorical question! No need to comment, trust me! And yes, I'm looking at you!). Annnnyway, the response I got was along the lines of, "OK, but what happened to Malcolm? Did he end up getting his lottery winnings? Did he have to share it with 22 other people? Don't leave me hanging!"

Which was beautiful music to me, at least in one sense. (In another sense, I was wondering if she'd even read the last few paragraphs or had thought the story ended with Malcolm's exit from the lottery headquarters.) The effect I was going for, and that I felt like I'd totally achieved, was to get the reader completely and utterly involved in the life of our Mr Smith only to pull the rug out from under him or her by showing another level of existence so far beyond what we experience as to make our silly little day-to-day adventures seem like the stuff of cartoon characters. I specifically tried to convey the idea that the Dice Men (who of course aren't really dice men at all, but they are the ones figuratively playing dice with our lives, according to the story) operate in ways that are so much more complex than the crude vocalizations and arm gesticulations that we employ for our communication. I thought I hit that one out of the ballpark, but opinions vary.

The other angle I wanted implied within the story was that our whole concept of Time might be, at best, limited, and at worst, just plain wrong. If beings on a higher plane are capable of whipping off versions of us in what seems to them to be the time it might take a student to execute a lesson, then maybe our millenia of history are either memory implants that never existed or simply the blink of a God's eye. I personally favour the latter option. Sort of like a fruit fly who lives an entire lifetime in the span that a human spends on a cottage vacation in the summer.

And finally, yes, it still holds up well for me. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it tonight. It earns a Cringe Factor of 0.0 from its author, some 15 or 20 years later!

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