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Author Topic: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020  (Read 2662 times)

Recrewt

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #15 on: 27 December, 2020, 07:09:41 PM »
Long time lurker here and I have recently read this and was interested to see how others found it.

I found infection to be a good tale but have also been left with the feeling I am missing something.  I can't decide if we have been dealing with an unreliable narrator.  The final page doesn't really make it clear if Char is unreliable or not - being affected by the same thing the others were doesn't necessarily mean the preceding pages were untrue?   


Professor Bear

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #16 on: 28 December, 2020, 12:52:16 AM »
My steaming hot take, curled out onto the keyboard like I'm proud of it: Char may be narrating, but she isn't actually telling the story, we're merely privy to her diary entries as that story progresses.

The story is - for me - a commentary on boarding/religious schools' insidious, but petty means of control, wherein they often claim to be a "liberal, free-thinking environment" despite uniforms, tiered daily schedules and a log of every thought and action being mandatory requirements for every pupil.  The story even overtly mentions conditioning methods and the usual conspiratorial mind-control methods at the off, and as it progresses we see characters acting first in uniform ways, but then their adherence to routine becomes ritualistic and eventually fetishistic, their not questioning why they're doing it or if what they're told as a rationalisation is actually true - their not remembering when things were different to what they're currently being told is pure "Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia" stuff, and we nerds know how that routine goes.
The ambiguity is in whether or not the school is knowingly going further than is usual in its methods, but I think the principal's response to actually reading one of the diaries shows she hasn't been reading them at all until that point, and the level of psychosis has surprised her.  This is a woman just going through the motions rather than enacting some long-term evil mind control plan, and she overreacts in quarantining the school, but it's the only thing she can think of doing because despite claims to be a reformer and trailblazer, she's never thought outside the box.  She's as trapped as the kids are - at first figuratively, then literally - by the means and methods of the school.

So basically: it's a story about mass hysteria in a boarding school, caused and then compounded by institutional dogmatism.
The stuff about a disease outbreak and vaccinations and the school gong into "lockdown" is just topicality and/or red herrings, but if you wanted, you could read it as someone going bananas in lockdown, because Current Events.  I guess you might get hung up on "yes, but why is it happening in that school?" but I don't know what to tell you - why does Jack Torrence go bananas in the Overlook?*  If it didn't happen, there wouldn't be a story.  Maybe it happened because the kids were left to their own devices?  I dunno.


* I gather Doctor Sleep answered this question, so maybe the writer of Infection will write a stupid and unnecessary follow-up in 35 years' time.

Robin Low

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #17 on: 28 December, 2020, 08:16:21 AM »

The story is - for me - a commentary on boarding/religious schools' insidious, but petty means of control, wherein they often claim to be a "liberal, free-thinking environment" despite uniforms, tiered daily schedules and a log of every thought and action being mandatory requirements for every pupil. 

Yes, at the start I also thought it was going to be the usual tiresome stuff about private education, but it quickly became something much more interesting than that.

Your points about the headmistress's reaction to the diaries sounds as reasonable as any other, as does your take on the whole story. I don't think it's realistic, in the sense that you can't get away with that kind of thing, but that hardly matters in this kind of story, and just adds to the disturbing wrongness of it all.

I read the article in the Meg last night, and Glass says, 'It's a ghost story about tradition and unspoken social mores growing out of control'. If there's a ghost in the traditional sense, I missed it.


Regards,
Robin

IndigoPrime

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #18 on: 28 December, 2020, 09:13:36 AM »
FWIW, I got all that about the basic theme of that story. That’s the abstract. I still have trouble with the conclusion (presumably, the lead thinks she’s fine but has also been infected). Also, there are the dates and the very  old photos showing the same characters (unless that’s an art flub or my memory playing up).

Colin YNWA

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #19 on: 28 December, 2020, 09:27:59 AM »
I love the ambiguity and for me that's what works about the story. Its spooky - the mystery adds to the tension and feeling of unease generated by the story. The photo, is it the same girls born again to relive the same horrors? Is it the dead coming back to haunt? When did Char become infected / haunted and so for how long is her narration true?

The fact that we're talking and pontificating suggests there's more than enough to grab our attention hold our interest and the lack of singular clarity just adds to the sense uneasy that permeates the story for me.

Professor Bear

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #20 on: 28 December, 2020, 02:21:41 PM »
The photo, is it the same girls born again to relive the same horrors? Is it the dead coming back to haunt? When did Char become infected / haunted and so for how long is her narration true?

I suspect some things - like referencing The Shining in your story about a writer going mad in an old building in which they are trapped for several months - are just reliable tropes.

Recrewt

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #21 on: 30 December, 2020, 12:39:25 PM »
I think the first time I read through this I was not really paying too much attention and just going along with the events.  It's easy to just follow Char's diary entries - is it this, is it that and then it just seems to end.  That doesn't do it much justice and I can now appreciate more what is going on.

There is a reference to the works of M R James and The Haunting of Hill House (which influenced Stephen King's The Shining) in one scene so I think that's what we are dealing with here - a haunted house story that also leaves the reader questioning if we are just dealing with psychological issues. 

We never see the 'ghost' but there are enough references to the terrible of events of 1842 to make me believe there is something supernatural that was born from those events.

My take on the ending is that Char has vigorously maintained that she is OK throughout all of this but we see that might not be true.  I don't think that negates what the others are doing but rather that Char is falling under the same influence.

Those are just my thoughts on it and I could well be completely wrong!  I still think its a very good tale that has more depth and a much more traditional ghost story at its heart, than you might first think.

Bolt-01

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #22 on: 30 December, 2020, 02:28:26 PM »
Personally I think that it shows a strength of the strip that it is still being talked about here. If the strip was poor it would simply have been dismissed.

CalHab

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Re: MISTY WINTER SPECIAL 2020
« Reply #23 on: 07 January, 2021, 02:02:10 PM »
I thought the first story was outstanding. One of the best short stories I've read in a long time and an interesting exploration of class signifiers. I'd be very happy to read work by this team again and will be checking Jim's link.

The second story was more conventional and I enjoyed it too. David Roach was excellent, as always.