Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Let's Talk Blogfest

I wasn't originally intending to join in this Let's Talk Blogfest, so I haven't written anything new for it, I'm afraid. Instead, here's an excerpt from my short story 'A Madder Scientist', the full version of which can be found in the archives of Semaphore Magazine, (issue 5, since you ask, and also the current anthology). It's a bit speech tag heavy at the start, at least partly because I was aiming for a slightly old fashioned, almost Woodehousian feel. Apologies to anyone who has read it before. I'll be more inventive next time.

‘Are you sure this is really necessary, Edwin?’ Cuthbert asked for what had to be the tenth time.

‘Yes, Cuthbert,’ Edwin answered, wearily. A polite cough behind him turned his attention to the man who stood there, looking neat and polished while the two of them laboured to drag The Apparatus up half a dozen flights of stairs.

‘Yes, Mr Mackenzie?’ Edwin demanded. The other man was over six feet, in his fifties, and with a nose that seemed designed for staring down. Nevertheless, Edwin had resolved to maintain his manners.

‘I just thought I should point out,’ Mr Mackenzie pointed out, in a voice that was obviously happy to be doing so, ‘that, strictly speaking, you should be referring to Master Willington-Smithe as “Igor”.’

‘But his name’s Cuthbert, man!’

‘I fully understand that, sir. As I have pointed out before, however, as the executor of your uncle’s estate, it is up to me to ensure that his wishes are followed in the proper spirit.’

Edwin bit back an angry response. After all, it wasn’t the lawyer’s fault. It was his uncle’s.
It had all sounded so simple in the will. Edwin was to inherit his uncle’s estate, on condition that he continued the family business. Edwin had been certain that the stipulations had said ‘scientist’ in describing that business. It was hardly his fault if Mackenzie’s thumb had partially obscured the crucial word.

‘What the world wants with a mad scientist, I’ll never know,’ Edwin muttered, and then swore as he dropped a piece of the Apparatus on his foot.

‘That’s the spirit, sir,’ Mr Mackenzie encouraged, while making no move to help. ‘Although, strictly speaking, you should be cursing those people who held you back with their narrow mindedness.’

‘Can we curse people who held us back with their narrow staircases instead?’ Cuthbert asked, from above.

‘I’m afraid not, sir, and I must insist that you take this matter more seriously. This is, after all, your uncle’s Great Work.’

Edwin snorted.

‘I’m beginning to think,’ he said, ‘that it is more a great deal of work than a Great Work.’

Mr Mackenzie shook his head and made a note in a small, leather bound book. ‘I’m sorry, sir,’ he said, ‘but comments like that really aren’t helpful. How would science advance if we did not push it beyond the artificial bounds of what other men would consider reasonable, Moral and even sane?’

For a moment, Edwin fancied that the lawyer’s visage took on a hungry look, but the moment passed. Besides, Cuthbert chose that moment to drop something up above.

‘Be careful with that Cuth… Igor!’


Tara said...

It is tag heavy - but the dialogue itself flowed nicely.

Fun piece - in an eerie, uh-oh sorta way ;)

Lisa Damian said...

I'm coming to realize that you always have such original premises with your stories. It's fantastic!

Tessa Conte said...

Oh very funny I'll have to read up the whole story... becoming a mad scientist to conform to a will?


Absolutely fabulous.

(and the dialogue is brilliant, of course)

Iapetus999 said...

Ooh, is there a touch of Steampunk in this work? *glee*
Igor...nice...but is it "ee-gor" or "eye-gor"??

Nice job!

VR Barkowski said...

This is great fun! Love the premise, and the dialogue is terrific. You're right, there is a Wodehousian feel to the piece and it works well. I'm off to Semaphore to read the full version. Nice job.

Indigo said...

As a fairly new follower, thank you for giving me a glimpse into your writing style. (Hugs)Indigo

Christine H said...

Oh, oh, I LOVE this!!!

As a Wodehouse fan, I am revelling.

Excellent show old chap, What Ho! and all that!

Susan Fields said...

Very nice! "But his name's Cuthbert, man!" - I love that line. You have some wonderful dialogue here, thanks for sharing!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I love the line about the nose made for staring down...very nice.

Your character's voice, the pouty sort of sarcasm, is fun to read.

Nice job.

Amalia T. said...

I didn't think the tags were too bad, actually, because of the tone. I think they worked just fine! And the Dialogue was great! I love the idea of the reluctant mad scientist. That's a great twist!

laurel said...

I could definitely see the Wodehouse homage here, and as Andrew mentioned, a Steampunkish feel also. Fun!

Dawn Embers said...

Very interesting. I see what you mean on the dialogue tags. Though I find it a little amusing you have the one guy say he's going to point out something and then the dialogue tag is he pointed out. hehe

Still nice work. ;-)

WritersBlockNZ said...

You contrasted the two speakers well, especially with the "But his name's Cuthbert, man!" Not a style I usually like to read but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Theresa Milstein said...

Like Tessa, I love the idea of being willed a mad scientist position in order to inherit a house.

Christina Lee said...

interesting concept!!! What did he drop?!?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Loved the voice, the back-and-forth of the dialogue. This storyline and the characters amused and intrigued me. I would read on and on.

stu said...

Christina, the brain, obviously.

Shelli said...

Fun, creative piece. I'd be interested to read more, though. I agree with the tags being a tad heavy.

Genie of the Shell said...

Interesting premise! He has to pretend to be "mad" to inherit? Boy, I can see a lot of legal tangles ahead. Thanks for sharing this snip.