Friday, May 4, 2018

"Hatter House": Yes, it's more modern "Alice in Wonderland."

Frankly, I'm a fiend for all things Alice in Wonderland: dark or light, quality or kitschy, modern or classic. I haven't caught up to absolutely every version, but it's in my books to do so. And when I have done, I'll likely be extremely disappointed because that's one less thing to look forward to on my watch list. But there it is.

When a certain journal asked for new spins on the story of Alice in Wonderland, I sent mine in -- and was roundly rejected. It is what it is. I tidied it up and sent it off to THAT Literary Review, who liked it and put it into their magazine. And that, dear reader, is where it lives today.

You won't be hard-pressed to find yourself a copy. It's available free as an ebook via Amazon on the mag's website. So you can grab it down and read at your leisure. There's plenty more fun reading in it, too -- so do please take an afternoon and have a read of all of it!

The concept behind "Hatter House" was an actual modernization of the Wonderland story from a couple of different angles. Angle 1: what sort of denizens would a 21st-century Wonderland entertain? When it was first written, characters like the Mad Hatter and the March Hare existed there, making references to tropes and sayings of the time. So a modern Wonderland would require the existence of modernized trope-characters.

In "Hatter House" you'll see a handful: the Pink Elephant (daughter of the White Elephant), Mama Bear, the Absentminded Professor, and Mary-Sue, to name a few. One or two classic characters do get a mention, of course. Because what would it be without at least a nod to the old guard!

And then, Angle 2: how would Wonderland react in the wake of Alice? Most new iterations see the citizens loving and missing her, or requiring her help in some new challenge. And while I love those stories (I'm a complete fool for American McGee's take on that), it's a much kinder approach than I feel the locals would actually have taken.

Alice brought childlike curiosity with her, certainly. But she also brought logic with her, questioning the denizens' actions and telling them when things didn't make sense. Jonathan Miller's 1966 teleplay starring Peter Sellers and John Gielgud removed the fanciful nature of the story, boiling it all down to a little girl observing adults being quite daft. And that's probably the fairest read there is of the story. (Incidentally, I highly recommend you see it if at all possible.)

But take it at face value. This little girl is threatening the very fabric on which Wonderland is based: illogical nonsense. In "Hatter House," precautions are taken once Alice has left Wonderland in order to make sure that further travelers like her don't harm their quality of life ever again. The "Alice Walk" -- a heavily standardized path that sates curiosity while minimizing damage -- is created to get future "Alices" in and out of Wonderland as quickly as possible, to avoid things going too normal.

But what happens when things do start to go normal?

Go read to find out. It's free.

Remember, you can pick up THAT Literary Review Issue #3 free from their website. Enjoy!

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