Like so much other dystopian fiction I've read, Brenda's story is oddly optimistic. I will also say that it's very appropriate for the author of dystopian fiction set in Australia to have been brought up on the work of a man who wrote about the end of the world happening Down Under.
Brenda’s ‘Between Lines’ is a warm-hearted portrayal of a somewhat dystopian near future. I found it fascinating for its description of Sydney as a foreign city (Brenda’s a Washingtonian—the state, that is, not the ‘D C’) and for its free-running but completely logical connection of concepts. Given our hope that the anthology would be seen as a patchwork of distinctly different pieces, it made perfect sense to interpose ‘Between Lines’, a straighforward but moving SF story, between two of the collection’s more extravagant fantasies.
Brenda Cooper: Ted Scribner and his wife Ros kindly invited me up to Blackheath for the day to meet US writer, Brena Cooper. We all had a nice day, checking out the rhododendron gardens, having a leisurely lunch and chatting. At the end of the day Brenda and I shared the train trip back to Sydney. It was interesting reading parts of her story and thinking "I know what inspired that. I was there!"
And Finally, Brenda Says:
First, I have to say I was just honored to be included. I had the great good fortune both to visit Australia and to meet Edwina while I was at it. A mutual friend, Ted Scribner, introduced me to her, and we shared a train ride down from the Blue Mountains to Sydney. I loved all things Australian, and all of the people that I met – both at the tech conference I attended and in the SF writing/fan community. I hope to return.
So I guess I should say something about the story. I wrote “Between Lines” because a TED talk had gotten me thinking about hiding things in plain site the Internet. The talk was by Eli Pariser, and is about what he calls “Online Filter Bubbles.” In our current world, many search engines will feed us information based on what we usually look for. I’m a liberal: when I search a topic, the conservative view is probably further down the rankings. I took that idea one further, in order to explore the idea of something being completely hidden., and for circumstances to then make that hidden thing important. I’d give away spoilers if I said much more, but I set part of the story in Australia since I’d just been there, and part of it here in the US.
The story is unique for me. It’s narrated (which I’ve only done one or twice before – put in an actual narrator’s voice on purpose) and he’s a tiny bit of an unreliable narrator. In addition, he’s an old man. This was a challenging voice for me; getting it right took a lot of work.
Brenda Cooper is an American writer living near Seattle, in the rain and the wet. She grew up stealing her father’s Nevil Shute books, which formed her first introduction to Australia. She writes science fiction and fantasy, works in technology, and also does a bit of freelancing as a futurist. Her web page is at www.brenda-cooper.com.