Review: A Christmas Carol 2 by Robert J. Elisberg

About A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge


It’s five years to the day after dear old Ebenezer Scrooge has passed away and left his thriving firm to his former clerk, Bob Cratchit. However, Bob’s overly-generous benevolence with lending and charity-giving has driven the company into the ground, on the verge of bankruptcy. And so the ghost of Scrooge returns one Christmas Eve to teach Cratchit the true meaning of money, with the help of visitations of three spirits – not all of whom are happy t be there. (It is Christmas Eve, after all, and they have other plans.) Making the swirling journey through Christmases past, present, and yet-to-be all the more of a chaotic ride for Cratchit are the dozens of characters from other Dickens novels woven throughout the story, together for the first time. God bless them, most everyone.

And it’s all augmented with footnotes of letters between Mr. Dickens and his publisher, along with notes from Dickens’s own hand and scholarly research. At least that’s what the editor tells us, though we’re a little skeptical of his honesty.

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About the author, Robjert J. Elisberg


Robert J. Elisberg has been a commentator and contributor to such publications as the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, C/NET and E! Online, and he served on the editorial board for the Writers Guild of America. He has contributed political writing to the anthology, Clued in on Politics, 3rd edition (CQ Press).

Among his other writing, Elisberg wrote the comic novella, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge, which reached #2 on Amazon’s Hot List for Humor/Parody. His most recent novel is the swashbuckling adventure, The Wild Roses. He co-wrote a book on world travel. Currently, he writes a tech column for the Writers Guild of America, west. He also co-wrote the song, “Just One of the Girls” for the Showtime movie Wharf Rat, and wrote the book for the stage musical Rapunzel!.

Born in Chicago, he attended Northwestern University and received his MFA from UCLA, where he was twice awarded the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. Not long afterwards, Elisberg sold his screenplay, Harry Warren of the Mounties. He was on staff of the international animated series, Flute Master, and co-wrote three of the Skateboy films based on it. He also co-wrote the independent film, Yard Sale. Most recently, he wrote an adventure screenplay for Callahan Filmworks.

Connect with Robert J. Elisberg:
Web:Elisberg Industries
Twitter: @RobertElisberg
Facebook: Robert Elisberg

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My Thoughts:

I’m a fan of Dickens, and I’m also open to pastiches, which means A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge was very likely going to be something I enjoyed. Nevertheless, I approached it a little nervously. I don’t like to give reviews. Obviously not everyone likes everything they’re given to read, but…What would I do if it wasn’t FUNNY?

My fears were assuaged almost instantly, and forgotten by the time I reached the first footnote. What? Didn’t anyone warn you that this book is annotated? Well it is, with a lovely footnote for every new/old character, talking about their appearance in the main body of Dickens’ work, and why he included them in this ‘lost’ novella.

The voice of the book isn’t quite Dickens as we know him, but could easily be unedited Dickens after a few shots of tequila – er, um – Smoking Bishop. The self-referential humor works every time, and the other bits of humor (sending a Jewish character to be a ghost on Christmas Eve, and having him complain about it) are dead-on.

In A Christmas Carol 2 Elisberg has not only given us an entertaining read, he’s helped the story live in contemporary times, showing us that the best path is neither abject poverty nor total profit, but a balance of the two.

Those who are familiar with the original Dickens work, or any of his novels, will gain the most enjoyment from Elisberg’s so-called revision, but even readers new to his work will get a laugh or two.

Writing pastiche is hard. Writing effective parody is even harder. Elisberg has managed to do both, successfully, and I enjoyed reading it very much.

Goes well with a slice of mince pie, and coffee laced with brandy.


Review: The Displaced Detective Series by Stephanie Osborn

About Book 1: The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival, by Stephanie Osborn


The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is a SF mystery in which hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those considered only literary characters. In one reality, a certain Victorian detective (who, in fact, exists in several continua) was to have died along with his arch-nemesis at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye intervenes, rescuing her hero, who flies through the wormhole connecting universes. Unable to go back, Holmes must stay in our world and learn to adapt to the 21st century.

Meanwhile, Schriever AFB Security discovers a spy ring digging out the details of – and possibly sabotaging – Project: Tesseract.

Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more? And what happens next?

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The next three books in the series are also available at Amazon:

The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed

The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident

The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings


My Thoughts

I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan practically since I could read, and grew up on the PBS/Granada TV Sherlock Holmes television shows that ran during the 1980s and ’90s. In fact, Jeremy Brett, who played Holmes in that series, remains the only actor to whom I’ve ever sent fan mail (his autographed photo made my 14-year-old self giddy with delight, and hangs on my office wall today), and as much as I love Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern take on the character, it’s Brett who will ALWAYS be Holmes to me.

In addition, I’ve been an avid reader of Holmes-ian pastiches for almost as long as I’ve loved the original works. Laurie R. King’s work is a favorite, but I’ve read everything from The Seven-Per-Cent Solution to a fanzine I bought at a Star Trek convention in 1989 that had Mr. Spock traveling back in time to meet his ‘ancestor,’ the Great Detective himself.

I’m not a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, though I have friends who are, but I have serious Sherlockian cred, so when I tell you that I absolutely LOVED Stephanie Osborn’s Displaced Detective series, you should know that it comes from a place of vast reading experience.

I was offered the first two books in the series, The Case of the Displaced Detective: the Arrival and The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed by the folks at Pump Up Your Book, but I was only half-way through the first book when I tweeted Ms. Osborn that I was smitten with her version of Holmes, who springs off the page as a fully-realized character in his own right, though I hear echoes of both Brett and Nimoy in his dialogue.

An hour later, I’d purchased the other two available books, and as of last night, I was half-way through with book four, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings

While Stephanie Osborn’s version of Holmes is swoon-worthy, her main character, Dr. Skye Chadwick, is pretty impressive herself. Smart, funny, talented – she’s the kind of woman many of us who were geek girls before being a geek was cool wanted to become.

The array of supporting characters, both American and British are equally rich and well developed (I really love Braeden Ryker), but characters aren’t the only element of any story, there has to be a compelling plot as well, and these mysteries have that in spades.

The description above gives you an idea of the basic story, at least of the first book, and I’m not one to analyze story points because in a mystery you don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that Osborn’s writing makes a tesseract that connects real and fictional continua seem completely plausible, and as someone who spent part of her childhood in Colorado (albeit in a different part), I loved the way she described it.

There are also a good number of geek culture/pop culture in-jokes and references. None of them detract from the story, but when you catch them, it’s as if you’re sharing a grin with the author.

In many ways, I feel like these books were written expressly for me (except if they were, they’d have way more frou-frou coffee in them), and even though I’d never read any of Stephanie Osborn’s work before, I feel like I can’t be objective, because these books are like literary crack. I fell in love with her characters and her world so completely that I’ve been telling all my friends “YOU MUST READ THESE!” And yes, I’ve been doing so in all caps.

Bottom line: if you love a mystery and are also into science-fiction (and I mean classic science fiction, the really good stuff), the Displaced Detective series will make you deliriously happy, especially if you enjoy a good Holmesian pastiche.

Goes well with Shepherd’s pie and a really good beer.


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