AD 027 – Christmas at War   December 22nd, 2010

Two bitter high school rivals are forced together, first by their parents and then by circumstances, into an uneasy Christmas truce, but will the cease-fire last past the holiday?

“Christmas at War” by Tim Susman

Read by Chris Hvidsten of the Outcast Novel Podcast

Music cues by Infinity Squared

Download or listen to the episode here.

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2 Responses

January 24th, 2011 at 5:40 pm
Vaperfox Says:


Tim Susman’s “Christmas at War” is an engaging tale about two rivals who learn to overcome their social conditions and find similarities in their lives.

Susman does an excellent job building the foundations for each character so the reader can see how their school life is embroiled in battle. The need for acceptance as an underlying theme is visible throughout the character interactions between Kelak and Lyle as they maneuver within the academic and social challenges present in their school.

There are a parallels between the World War I Christmas truce and the apartment visitation by Kelak later in the story. These parallels are also echoed at the halfway point between their homes where Lyle and Kelak play with the glider. The gang designations of the Bluffies and Lowlies serve as mock labels which present another two Army system similar to the British and German opposition during World War I. Susman has proven himself a writer who successfully utilizes historical relevance and inputs such information in interpersonal ways. An excellent example of another truce during war occurs in Susman’s “Conduct Unbecoming” in Different Worlds, Different Skins: Volume 1.

Susman shows a noteworthy ability to define parameters where characters feel they are forced into and then later provide positive opportunities to extricate themselves from cycles of violence, ignorance and oppression. Those readers wishing to see anthropomorphic fiction with deep meaning, engaging characters and memorable storylines with unique twists should look to Tim Susman as an example of literary excellence.

Chris Hvidsten does an excellent job conveying the mood of the multiple characters and maintains the personalities throughout the entire reading. There is a distinct tonal shift between Kelak and Lyle which plays off their animosity towards each other very well. Hvidsten does an amazing job keeping his voices diverse as well as injecting life into the most interesting and unexpected moments, such as during the taunts between the boys. There is even a refreshing playful reading of the rap artists that Lyle and Kelak listen to, such as Gigawhat (I love the line “howl with da wuffs” and even the rap song talks about the friendship between different animal species). I found myself so immersed in the story that I forgot it was being narrated to me. That is a mark of accomplishment.

This story works so well because it takes the time to build up. You can see the author is in no rush to tell the tale and this allows the reader to care so much about the characters, that when they come together, they’re a sense of satisfaction at the resolution. An excellent story in all respects.

January 30th, 2011 at 8:09 pm
admin Says:

Thank you for your eloquent review, Vaperfox.

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