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.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"Panacea" by Jason Stoddard: An Appreciation by Adam R. Rakunas

If you haven't read the story first, for God's sake, why not?

Here's the problem with being in a writing group with people who are better writers than me: I wind up getting all fanboy about the stuff they bring and forget that it's my job to make the stories the best they can be. I get so caught up in the whizbang, the Holy crap! feeling of reading something that's just kicked off the top of my head and turned my brain around that I forget little things like plot holes or misspellings.

Not to say that Panacea is like that. God, no. Jason brought an early draft to our writing group, the Fictionados, and I dug it right away. Who wouldn't? "The Thomas Edison/Bill Gates Smackdown in the Antarctic!" I said during my critique. I was so caught up the mad spectacle of the story, with its medicine show immortality and aristocratic sysadmins. This is why I like science fiction, because the rules say that there are no rules, other than it has to work. If you set up a world, its mechanics, no matter how fantastic, have to make sense within that world.

"Panacea"'s rules do work, even as they take the histories of computing, world wars and geek ego, drop 'em into a blender and hit FRAPPE. Thanks to Ellen Datlow's suggestions, the story we'd read went past the whizbang and right into the bit about kicking off the top of my head. I can only hope that Jason writes a sequel and adds the Two Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, into the blender. But I think my brain can only take so much twisting.

Link to story.


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