Tangent online on Tuesday came out with its review of the second issue of Darker Matter, and - wow - they loved "Avatar". This is what Alasdair Stuart wrote:
"Lou Antonelli’s story, "Avatar," begins at the end, decades after a nuclear war. Doc Damon and Professor Ledkins are members of staff at the University of Texakarna, the capital of the new, if heavily damaged, Texas. It’s implied, although never stated outright, that in this world the Cuban Missile Crisis turned into all-out war, and much of America is in ruins. Decades on from the war though, scientists are patiently working to recreate mankind’s knowledge and Damon and Ledkins think they may have a solution to a very big problem indeed. What they find instead manages to not only turn the "post world war III" genre on its head but also to comment on one of the oldest and least interesting SF tropes with a good deal of compassion and warmth.
"Antonelli’s story is hard work, at least at first. The war and the state of the world takes up much of the front end and is presented in a fairly unabashed info dump, albeit one which functions well for the character. That aside, there’s a lot to enjoy here from the peaceful, if ramshackle, University life Ledkins enjoys to the genuinely surprising ending. This reviewer is an unashamed fan of historical enigma fiction and Antonelli marries that with one of the oldest SF tropes in the book to create something new and quietly, intellectually heroic."
Mr. Stuart got everything - how I went out on a tightrope trying to do something new with the old post-Apocalyptic trope, how I went for the usual Antonelli twist ending ("genuinely surprising"), how I dropped the hints about how in this alternate world the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in WWIII, and how I use the "unabashed" info dump.
This may be the best single review a story of mine has ever gotten. Tangent didn't like "Rocket", too! Nice encouragement.