World War One in Fantastic Fiction: “On the Cheap”

On the Cheap“, Dan Bieger, 2014.

It is Oct. 25th, 1920 at a Dublin pub.

A crowd sits and listens to Jimmy Choice spin his tale of wartime service. He is modeled on James Joyce and that pun is by no means the last in this humorous tale. (The real James Joyce, incidentally, spent most of the Great War living in Zurich.)

Choice served in the “mostly unpublicized, Not-Royal-At-All Dublin Fey Detachment.” Or, as he explains, “We Fey, we happy Fey, we wee band of Others.” One V. A. Yates urges him on. (Don’t worry, you’ll decode the man behind the pun when he opens his mouth.)

We then get a tale of how Sergeant Cork, a fey, shapeshifter, penetrates German lines and impersonates a German lieutenant. He thwarts the defense to a British assault on the line and captures many prisoners singlehandedly. The author’s afterward cites the wartime exploits of American Alvin C. York.

To my mind, the only bits of note involve poetry. There is a humorous fey version of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Irish Guards“. And Bieger raises a pint to just how much the poet has trumped the historian in modern “memories” of the war. Jimmy Choice says, upon coming to the Western Front,:

The scene awaitin’ me eyes was not much different than the trench in which I stood an’ very much as reported in all the better poetry of our time . The trash, the wire , the bits of uniform, the stench, the mud, the blood, an’ the fear. Not unexpected, you know, but a bit off-putting jist the same.

World War One Content

  • Living Memory: No.
  • On-Stage War: Yes.
  • Belligerent Area: Yes.
  • Home Front: No.
  • Veteran: No.

More World War One in Fantastic Fiction.

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