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Melko, Paul

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1968-    ) US author whose education was in nuclear engineering, and who began publishing work of genre interest with "Dysfunctional Family Cat" for Aberrations #39 in 1996; as his fiction focuses on problem-solving (see Hard SF; Thought Experiment) and tends to reward problem-solvers with solutions helpful to them and/or the world at large, he can be understood as an inheritor of the mode and thrust of an earlier writer like Robert A Heinlein, and this instrumental style of fiction could be compared with that of Cory Doctorow, whose Young Adult tales also focus on useful solutions. Several of the stories assembled in Ten Sigmas & Other Unlikelihoods (coll 2008) tend to confirm this sense of Melko's early work, as does his first novel, Singularity's Ring (fixup 2008), in which the Singularity has occurred, as a consequence of which most of Earth's population has undergone Transcendence and become forms of energy; the task facing the five teenagers – melded together into a gestalt-like quincunx (or "pod") that as a whole comprises a Computer entity or AI known as Apollo Papadopulos – is to become sufficiently competent to captain a Starship: a sequel may carry the problem-solvers into larger spaces. The novel won a Locus Award for best first novel.

On the other hand, Melko's John Rayburn sequence comprising The Walls of the Universe (April/May 2006 Asimov's; exp 2009) and The Broken Universe (2012) moves into territory more familiar to readers of Steven Gould or even David Marusek: its young protagonist is evicted from his body by a Doppelganger from another Dimension, where he is now exiled, an experience sufficiently distressing to colour the remainder of the tale, which focuses on the transformative impact of new Technology as both hero and double rock their respective new worlds with Inventions unknown there; as the series evolves, a Space Opera-like exhilaration begins to dominate, as the cast ricochets from world to world in the unfolding Multiverse, chased and chasing. Melko's work is already, quite early in his career, marked by drive and variety; it may be of considerable interest to track where he goes next. [JC]

Paul Melko

born Athens, Ohio: 22 May 1968



John Rayburn

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