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More Overhead Reviews—and a Question

Yeah, I know, lay off the Shine already.

But let’s start with the reviews:

From SF Revu, Liviu Suciu:

For me this was the best story of the anthology and not surprising it is the one that involves exploration of Outer Space, namely a colony on the dark side of the moon – so it stays out of touch with humanity except for regular deliveries of technology and people that want to join – where humanity can “reboot” if needed and where the rules are designed to create a better society. In a past thread that mixes with the current one and explains how the colony came to be, we follow executive Roy Parekh setting up an insurance company with a twist. Sense of wonder, memorable characters and a superb ending made “Overhead” a story that induced me to follow Mr. Stoddard’s career from now on. I would love a novel that would expand this story since I think the necessary depth is there.

From Speculative Book Review,

While I greatly enjoyed almost all of Shine’s stories, a handful of those really impressed me. Jason Stoddard’s Overhead was one of them. It was a brilliant story written with a beautiful style. In Overhead, Stoddard uses flashbacks very intelligently to build his story on two alternate threads. The present thread develops the story while the flashback thread gives the reader more background helping her to understand the present thread. Furthermore, Stoddard manages to keep the suspense until the last page.

From Suite 101, Colin Harvey:

‘Overhead’ by Jason Stoddard shuttles setting between Earth and the Moon, and an embryonic lunar colony. Stoddard raises the stakes, bringing an intensity absent from much of the other fiction, making the payback all the greater. Highly Recommended.

From Financial Times (!):

But there are some strong stories: “Overhead”, Jason Stoddard’s sketch of a moon colony, is the best; Holly Phillips’s “Summer Ice”, set in a greener future metropolis, and Kay Kenyon’s “Castoff World”, also satisfy.

Author comment: is it surprising that financially oriented peeps would think a story about an insurance salesman is the best?

From SF Crowsnest, Stephen Hunt:

Jason Stoddard’s ‘Overhead’ is only partly set on Earth, the other part of the action is on an idealistic, experimental lunar colony. The colony develops from a dubious insurance company in the kind of unexpected development that typifies many of this anthology’s stories. Technology and social developments that are often assumed in SF to have a negative future have been turned on their head to great effect.

From SF Signal and The Huffington Post (!!):

Two warily pet the woolly mammoth in the room: space exploration. Of these, Marie Ness’ “Twittering the Stars” (despite its gimmicky structure and grating title) is absorbing and complex, whereas Jason Stoddard’s too-earnest “Overhead” lets its most exciting premise – Europan life – lie totally fallow. In compensation, the latter contains the sole character in the anthology who’s instantly memorable: a heroic-despite-himself version of Henry the Navigator.

There are a lot of other reviews that don’t mention Overhead specifically, which I’ll take to mean one of the following:

a. The reviewer hated it and was being polite.
b. It made no impression on them at all.

Which is fine . . . ya can’t please everyone.

Now, the question from Jetse de Vries, based on Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton’s lukewarm-to-cautiously-positive reaction to Shine in the April issue of Locus magazine (not online.)

I suppose we can agree to disagree about the ‘greatness’ of certain stories, but I do wonder why an anthology full of stories where people try to change things for the better needs to be ‘approved’, while anthologies where the population is decimated, the Earth is brought to the brink of destruction (sometimes beyond) and nihilistic characters gleefully engage in violence get that stamp of approval by default. Maybe this says something about the current mindset of written SF?

My opinion: for every negative thing happening in the world today, there are one or more equally positive things. Spend some time on PhysOrg. Look at the crazy people at Copenhagen Suborbitals or the Open Space Movement. Check out the amazing beauty of Festo’s robotics. We’re on the edge of some truly amazing breakthroughs — and, no, they aren’t all going to be used to propagate the agenda of large, evil organizations.

So, to the naysayers, fear-mongers, and doom-merchants: Stand aside, and watch us make a future worth living in!

May 16th, 2010 / 1,316 Comments »



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