Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pump Six and Other Stories

I had already declared Paolo Bacigalupi, together with Cory Doctorow, to be The Bards of the Revolution. "Pump Six and Other Stories" establishes Paolo as the Bard of Coming Environmental Disaster as well. Many of the stories deal with some form of future environmental disaster.

He is best known for his memes of bioengineered plagues which force the use of proprietary crops in a post-oil world controlled by Monsanto and their IP police("The Calorie Man", "Yellow Card Man"). Now we also get:

  • Life in a completely dried-up, drought-stricken SW US ("The Tamarisk Hunter").
  • A future where toxins in the environment have made the population morons or worse ("Pump Six").
  • Or where toxins in the environment have severely disrupted human reproduction ("Small Offerings"). The fact that reproductive systems and young organisms are the most susceptible to environmental degradation and stress is one of the most chilling of the many chilling conclusions of "This Changes Everything".
  • Or, creepiest of all, where the world is a completely toxic sludge dump with its ecosystems mostly gone, but we have, through genetic engineering and nanotechnology, adapted ourselves to thrive in this environment ("The People of Sand and Slag").
We also have a couple of other flavors of dystopia:
  • A horrible cautionary tale of where runaway inequality could take us ("The Fluted Girl").
  • A world of mostly immortals with a few people who still want to breed ilicitly ("Pop Squad").
The other 2 stories in the collection, "Pocketful of Dharma" and "The Pasho" are a bit further afield in their subject matter.

This is a great collection, a very quick read. A few of the stories, tho, really kind of hit my "this is disgusting" button - but rightfully so. I wonder sometimes what it will take to wake the sleeping (or online) millennial giant, maybe "this is disgusting" is a dash of what we need.

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