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Dogged Persistence
Kevin J. Anderson
Golden Gryphon, 303 pages


Dave Dorman
Dogged Persistence
Kevin J. Anderson
Kevin J. Anderson was born in 1962 and was raised in Oregon, Wisconsin. At 10, he had saved up enough money from mowing lawns and doing odd jobs that he could either buy a bicycle or a typewriter -- he chose the typewriter and has been writing ever since. He sold his first novel, Resurrection, Inc., by the time he turned 25. Anderson worked in California for 12 years as a technical writer and editor at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he met his wife Rebecca Moesta and his frequent co-author, Doug Beason.

Kevin J. Anderson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Resurrection, Inc.
SF Site Review: Dune: House Atreides
SF Site Review: Lethal Exposure

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Although Kevin J. Anderson may be best known for writing novels and stories in popular series such as Star Wars, Dune, X-Files, and other media-related worlds, he has also published a significant amount of fiction, at both novel length and shorter, which is worthy of examination and enjoyment on its own level. A frequent collaborator, his novel Assemblers of Infinity, written with Doug Beason, was a Nebula Award nominee. Dogged Persistence marks his first collection of short stories, which appropriately includes both collaborations and a continuation of Frank Herbert's Dune series.

Many of Anderson's stories, such as "Fondest Memories" or "New Recruits," incorporate protagonists who have their faults to the extent that it is difficult for the reader to sympathize with them. However, Anderson's stories also tend to be more about ideas than about individuals. "Music Played on the Strings of Time" and "Tide Pools" attempt to create characters for the reader to empathize with, but the real focus of these two stories is Anderson's world-travelling concept, which allows people to mine alternate worlds in search of products and ideas for import into their home universe.

Anderson plays with ideas in the stories collected in Dogged Persistence. While some of the ideas may seem clichéd, he does manage to bring a fresh perspective to the concepts and present them in a new way. These ideas run the gamut from interstellar travel and cloning to time travel and ghost stories. Anderson shows a skill in selecting the appropriate setting and genre for the ideas which he wants to explore.

One of his most interesting ideas, "The Old Man and the Cherry Tree," barely takes the trappings of speculative fiction. Told in the format of a Japanese fable, none of the characters are provided with names, only with stations in life. Within this context, Anderson's manner of treating the characters works surprisingly well and the reader can find a closer tie to the Japanese monk who is at the centre of the story and whose history is unknown to everyone, including himself.

Anderson's best characterizations seem to come when he is dealing with historical figures. Rather than create characters from whole cloth, he is able to begin with what is known about the historical Percival Lowell ("Canals in the Sand") or Bela Lugosi ("Much at Stake") and graft on the characteristics required by the story, always keeping these characters true to their historical personae. "Final Performance" allows Anderson to use this technique with several different characters from the Shakespearean theatre scene.

While Anderson's introductions are interesting and provide insight into the reasons Anderson wrote each story and what he was attempting to achieve, at times they are a little to explicit and reading them will alter the view a reader has of the actual story. In this way, Anderson's words detract from the actual stories which are no longer allowed to stand on their own.

Anderson is a writer of stories with ideas. In some cases, he is able to create characters who connect with the reader both emotionally and intellectually, but there are just as many cases where his characters fail to achieve such a connection. Fortunately, his writing does not rely on sympathy or empathy, but rather it is sustained by his ability to appeal to the reader's sense of wonder. Dogged Persistence collects enough of Anderson's works to give the reader an idea of what he is capable of writing when he doesn't have to follow a script, and can let his imagination run wild.

Copyright © 2001 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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