Comments on Nancy Kress's "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls"

I've been enjoying the Escape Pod podcast for several months now. Recently, I started commenting on individual stories -- because it seems like a good exercise. I got all pumped when Steve Eley quoted my comments in one of the 'casts.

I just finished this post on Nancy Kress's excellent tale "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls." This is the first time I've tried to articulate my view on plot vs. style and the synergy of the two. I sure hope it makes as much sense to a reader as it does to me.

Quote [from previous post]:
"It mystifies me that people see this tale as compelling, because the story is so hum-dum predictable that I almost felt like I was hearing an audiobook of an episode of 'Scooby Doo'..."

Good fiction, like good marketing, has both a good package and a good product. Nancy's story had great writing -- excellent presentation. Very few people seem to disagree.

What most people don't like is the product -- the plot itself. It seems to me that most consumers of genre fiction become jaded very quickly because they read a lot of bad stories (say discount brands, with crappy packaging and substandard products).

Once jaded, you pay less attention to the packaging and compare the product to every other product you can remember. Once jaded, it's difficult to take a story on its own merits. We overlook virtues and pick at perceived shortcomings.

I think this story succeeded in terms of both packaging and product. You can, with very little effort, reduce the plot to "subject verb object," but you can do that with any good plot. Good packaging can make any plot, any product, shine like new.