Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Space Case"

Stuart Gibbs is the author of Belly Up, Poached, Spy School, Spy Camp, Evil Spy School, and Space Case. He has also written the screenplays for movies like See Spot Run and Repli-Kate, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, and Fox, and researched capybaras (the world’s largest rodents).

Gibbs applied the Page 69 Test to Space Case and reported the following:
My completely biased, non-objective opinion is that page 69 of Space Case isn’t really that representative of the book. It’s part of a scene in which Nina Stack, the commander of Moon Base Alpha, is warning 12-year-old Dashiell Gibson, our hero, to back off from pressing her to investigate what he believes is the murder of Ronald Holtz, the recently-deceased base doctor. (Nina, for the record, believes that the death was an accident.)

It’s a necessary scene, as it’s the point where Dash realizes that, if he wants to know what happened to Dr. Holtz, he’s going to have to investigate himself -- but it doesn’t have the humor of, say, page 51, the action of page 119, or the intriguing futuristic science of page 13. (That’d be the science of space toilets, in case you were wondering.) Even pages 68 & 70 on either side of 69 have a bit more zest to them: emotional dialogue, a bit of humor, some fascinating facts about what showers are like on the moon. But that’s the way the type is set, I suppose.

Toward the bottom of page 69, things get jazzed up a bit with a reference to an incoming rocket, which reminds us that this book is actually science-fiction, as it takes place in the relatively near future on the moon, but other than that, 69 is mostly just about moving the story ahead. Which is just how things go in the writing business. No matter how much you try to make every line sing, sometimes in a sci-fi mystery adventure, you just have to tell the tale.
Visit Stuart Gibbs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue