The Meteoric Rise and… Disappearance… of Patricia Anthony

So, Patricia Anthony was one of the biggest rising stars of 90s SF, it seems. Rave reviews, blurbs as well as longer commentaries, and a strong oeuvre of books from the looks of it. I’ve just been getting into her again, or, well, that’s what I shall call it anyway. (I ordered what books of hers I didn’t have on hand, and have been reading Conscience of the Beagle — which is a weird experience because I read, I think, a third of it ten years or more ago, and remember bits, but only bits.)

My attention turned to Anthony when I was in Portland last year, and saw a copy of her novel Cradle of Splendor, about a Brazilian space program, and figured I’d like to read it side-by-side with Ian McDonald’s recent Brasyl. I figure two non-Brazilians might latch onto commonalities, and I’m interested in how being an outsider affects one’s depiction of a culture or place.

(For example, among expats here in Korea, there are a set of shorthands that are common and immediately comprehensible. This, in turn, shapes a lot of expats perceptions about Koreans and Korea.)

Anyway, according to Wikipedia Anthony rose to prominence quite quickly during the 90s, and then published her last book with Ace, Flanders. It was, most decidedly, not SF. Then she went off to write film scripts. Apparently she finished a novel in 2006 but it has not yet seen print. I’m dreadfully curious to see what it is, and can’t help but wonder why it’s not out yet, given Anthony’s reputation. I think she might be remembered in something of a hurry if the book did come out, but then, maybe not… it was 1998 when Flanders saw print, which means it’s been a long time.

Ah well, I am lucky at least to have a bunch of her books to read: the only one I’ve actually read is the brilliant, strange, and wonderful Brother Termite. (Which Jim Cameron apparently wanted to turn into a film, but never did.)

Here is not only the lengthiest, but also the most recent, interview with Anthony that I’ve found online so far.

7 thoughts on “The Meteoric Rise and… Disappearance… of Patricia Anthony

  1. Perhaps she got too depressed to write anything else. Her books were great, but MAN. Her collection “Eating Memories” is very very good, especially if you want to never be happy again.

  2. Hmmm. Yeah, I have Eating Memories but I’ve only read the first story of many. Gloomy, huh? Doesn’t surprise me, given what few novels I’ve read and what I know of the others…

    Is the captcha any better now? It’s weird there’s something “new” since, basically, I haven’t installed anything. I guess it was an ill-thought-out upgrade. Guess it’s time to log out and see what the fuss is about, since you’re the second person to say so…

  3. It looks pretty much the same now– it’s this sort of animated floating text thing with a giant animated foot(soccer)ball and floating phrases and not very much actual captcha text. It looks like an Amiga demo from the late 80’s. It takes a while to load, even on a fast connection (which might be a good thing– if you can’t wait for the captcha to load, you didn’t really want to post a comment after all, right?). I’ve just never seen one like it…

    So, yeah, on-topic, her short stories were full of unbearable despair… Her novels, too, but the short stories were little concentrated packets of sadness, and if you, say, read straight through the collection all at once over a couple of hours it was the sadness-equivalent of reading a bunch of her novels at once.

  4. Wow, I logged out to check it and that thing is insane… but I kind of like it. Hmmm. If I could get it to load a little quicker, and show up while the person is typing the comment (instead of after hitting submit), it’d be perfect. But I’m not sure I want to change it, even with the flaws.

    As for Patricia Anthony’s work’s sadness, yeah. The interesting and weird thing is that in an interview I read a while back, she felt that she had been, er, “typecast” as an SF writer. She felt it had hurt her career because, as far as she was concerned, what she wrote was mostly techno-thrillers that happened to have aliens in them. (Or something along those lines.) I was baffled, really, though of course I haven’t yet read Flanders, which apparently really broke away from what she’d done before.

    Anyway, I know what you mean about despair: I’m about halfway through Conscience of the Beagle now and, well, everyone’s miserable. “We’re the walking wounded,” one character has just said to another a few pages back, and it’s quite apparently true… even of the droid, or so is the sense I get. But from the size of the short story collection, I couldn’t read it in a few hours anyway… perhaps I should be thankful for being a slow reader?

  5. I definitely want to read some of her stuff, especially after hearing that she’s depressing. I was told the same about Peter Watts, and yet I’ve found his work the equivalent of Prozac, without the side effects.

    Also, re josh brandt — DOOD! Someone on your blog knows what the demoscene is! Want to connect with this person! Squee!

  6. Watts ain’t Prozac to me, much as I admire his writing. But Patricia Anthony’s very worth the effort to find her books. I’m busy, thus stuck almost at the same spot in Conscience of the Beagle but tellingly, I keep picking it up every spare moment I get…

    BTW isn’t he just talking about “demos” as in, demo files for games? Or … well, you’d know better than me.

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