The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Jury Service" by Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow: An Appreciation by Chris Nakashima-Brown

A collaboration! It doesn’t get any more sci-fi than that. This is better than a Marvel Team-Up circa 1974! Dr. Strange and Brother Voodoo! Black Panther and the Vision! Ka-Zar and Ghost Rider! Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross! The hot Asimov's wonder boys of the new century, romping their way through a 21,000-word novella edited by Grandmaster ED. Try to find something like that in the genteel literary establishment--the authorial equivalent of free jazz, detonating the idea of the author and the conventions of storytelling with improvised explosive memes.

This thing is a case study in why SF writers--and readers--have more fun. Two brightly burning young Turk authors body-slamming in cyberspace like a virtual WWF tag-team. A mano-a-mano ¿Quien es Mas Macho? for people whose stock-in-trade is post-cyberpunk eyeball kicks. Every page another bite of Gonzo Marzipan as the boys pile it on:

- Libyan Goth ninjettes!

- A hungover protagonist "trapped in a mutating bathroom by a transgendered atheist role-playing critic."

- Biohazard burkas! Anti-nanophage underwear!

- The world reimagined post-Singularity as "a matrioshka brain, nested Dyson orbitals built from dismantled moons and planets."

- Mile-long catamaran airships to North Africa crewed by uplifted Islamic gibbons!

- A feral privatized blood bank with a thing for Welsh T-helper lymphocytes.

- Visual spam filtered with adbuster proxy services!

- A chimera engineered with Koranic genome from drosophila, mus musculus, and twentieth century situationist Dan Quayle.

- Doc Björk and the People's Magical Libyan Jamahirya!

The plot? Twenty-first century party people thrown into the tech jury service: "defending the Earth from the scum of the post-Singularity patent office." A solid frame for a story that reads more like a really good Worldcon panel than a conventional narrative. After all, it's the literature of ideas.

The brain bombs pop out of the screen here, each page a contest between the authors to outdo each other with imaginative pyrotechnics. Politics, technology, fashion, food, physics (real and meta-), geography, travel, architecture, religions, genetics, you name it. Fun, and funny, infused with a warm and welcoming nerd whimsy--the spirit of Douglas Adams channeling Greg Egan through an Ono-Sendai translator. Snap, crackle, pop, chortle and boing!

Link to story.


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