My story "Act One," in the March ASIMOV'S, has been out long enough to be reviewed in those places that review short fiction. Since the reviews are positive, I'm pleased -- but I've noticed something about the reviews.
A major character, Jane Snow, is a movie actress who has not made a picture in ten years and is now trying for a come-back. She is 54. The reviews variously refer to her as "slightly ageing," "over the hill," "older," "washed up," and "elderly." As someone the same age as Jane (well, in the same decade, anyway), I am fascinated by these various views of 54. The data I don't have is the age of the reviewers, with one exception: Gardner Dozois in LOCUS refers to Jane as "once-famous," an age-neutral statement. Gardner is 62.
Does the age of a reviewer - or reader -- influence how he or she views a literary character, and thus whether the story is of interest or not? I raised this question with regard to my Hugo-nominated story "The Erdmann Nexus" (now, incidentally, available both at the ASIMOV'S and Anticipation websites), which takes place in an assisted-living facility. But I still don't have an answer.
I wish I knew the age of the reviewer who thinks 54 is "elderly."