cover image Carol for Another Christmas

Carol for Another Christmas

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Ace Books, $18 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-441-00366-2

Poor Charles Dickens. Not only has A Christmas Carol been made into an animated feature film with Mr. Magoo as its lead, but now it has suffered the further indignity of being charmlessly transposed by Scarborough (a 1989 Nebula Award winner for The Healer's War ) into the computer age. Ebenezeer Scrooge dies a beloved man five years after the events of the Dickens story, only to be awakened from his eternal slumber. Scrooge, it seems, has been chosen to take his own turn as a moralizing spirit. On Christmas Eve, in modern-day Seattle, the insensitive and sarcastic Monica ""Money"" Banks, sole inheritor of her brother Doug's international computer company, Databanks, refuses to give her staff time off for the holiday. She demands that her employees complete work on a sinister new software surveillance program contracted by the U.S. government for delivery on January 1, even though her staff assures her that the program will never fly. Meanwhile, eight-year-old Tina Timmons, suffering from a faulty heart valve and a physical deformity, has been secreted in a deserted office while her grandfather performs janitorial duties. Playing with a computer, Tina is befriended online by a mysterious man named Doug, whom she innocently assists in creating a program designed to ""help somebody become a better person."" When Doug offers Monica a chance to change, she refuses, leaving it to Scrooge to whisk her into a spectral software program designed especially to open the eyes of ""the Queen of Mean of the Computer World."" This is trite and simplistic modernization of a timeless classic. In a word: humbug! (Nov.)