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A “Knockout”

My friend Tinatsu mentioned coming across a mention of my work in an article by Paul Di Fillippo, in an article of Salon. It’s a very flattering mention, indeed, as it’s mentioned in connection not just to the Shine Anthology, but also Di Fillippo’s take on the perennial question, “Is Science Fiction Dying?” He seems to suggest both the Shine anthology and my story is evidence that it is not, or something like that:

One of the best anthologies of recent vintage is Jetse de Vries’ “Shine.” Its virtues are easy to enumerate. It offers a clear-eyed theme and unique remit: optimistic, near-future SF. It features a wide range of voices and styles. Its editor is young, knowledgeable, energetic and hip (the anthology was assembled with heavy reliance on social media sites). On all counts, it’s a rousing success, the very model of a modern project, and points the way toward a healthy future for SF short stories. All that remains is for the book to rack up some deservedly healthy sales.

Not every story in the volume achieves unqualified greatness: A number favor earnestness over entertainment. They work so seriously to illustrate that there is hope for humanity that they seem to forget that the reader has to want to imagine herself enjoying life in the future, even while facing challenges. That was always the secret of Heinlein-era SF. This joie de vivre deficit becomes apparent only when you come to a contrary story such as Gord Sellar’s knockout “Sarging Rasmussen: A Report (by Organic).” Its high-octane characters and language and devil-may-care attitude cloak serious issues just as vital as those embedded elsewhere in the book. But it’s also a slavering whirlwind of manic energy, in the mode of the Looney Tunes cartoon Tasmanian Devil. Others in this admirable vein include Eva Maria Chapman’s “Russian Roulette 2020” and Kay Kenyon’s “Castoff World.”

I’m mulling the fact that while I am usually happiest with stories that are slower, quieter, and much darker (such as “The Bodhisattvas” or “Cai and Her Ten Thousand Husbands,” readers seem to respond more forcefully to stories that are rollicky and crazy and over the top and, well, fun. This is certainly going to come to mind when exams finish and I dig into novel ideas and pitching and so on, since first novels really seem to have to do well these days, if you want the chance at a second one.

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