Science Fiction Though the Decades

Monday, January 16, 2012

2008: Pump Six (Bacigalupi, Paolo)

Florid eeriness compounds dark details (5/5)

I've previously read Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl and was pretty floored by the amount of setting detail. Bacigalupi carries on with this talent in his short stories, where detail is inlaid into every story: detail about a characters meticulous action, the refinements of a futuristic city, or the superfluous catalog numbers found in an instruction manual. Compound this talent for detail with the eeriness of his dark visions and you'll find that this collection has a different feeling to it that other collection out there... Pump Six is even darker than the apocalyptic collection in Wastelands. Full marks for this collection! I hope to see more fiction being produced about the ever-so diverse city of Bangkok!

Pocketful of Dharma (1999) - 4/5 - Beggar Boy in Chengdu, China steals a pair of expensive specs from a dead man and is given a blue data cube by the killers so he can deliver it. Thinking the cube has value, the takes it to the same shady buyer who is just as interested as the beggar as to what the data cube holds and why people are willing to kill for it. 24 pages

The Fluted Girl (2003) - 3/5 - The fragile figure of a servant stows herself above the manor's pantry, keeping away from the fief and her up-coming dinner party, where she and her sister will be the artistic spectacle. With her male friend Steven already being served as sweetmeats, will she use Steven's last gift as an escape from her indentured life? 23 pages

The People of Sand and Slag (2004) - 5/5 - Heavily modified truly omnivorous humans in an animal-less world discover a dog amidst their chemical wasteland and adopt it as their own after debating on whether or not to just eat the nuisance. 19 pages

The Pasho (2004) - 4/5 - A cross-cultural monk on his hometown retreat clashes with his grassroots grandfather of Jai heritage. Having received his monastic training in Kali, the religious/cultural/geographic neighbor, his grandfather resents his son's customs, his family partaking in Kali traditions, and the village slowly becoming more Kali-like. 24 pages

The Calorie Man (2005) - 3/5 - An Indian migrant ekes out a living upon the Mississippi river, just south of the fertile lands where the mega-corporations hold a monopoly on patented strains of grain which feed the world. A mission to retrieve a genehacker is undertaken in order to escape the tragic calorie/joule cycle. 29 pages

The Tamarisk Hunter (2006) - 4/5 - Lolo uproots water-absorbing plants on a per-plant basis for the Californian government but his secret is that he plants the same trees he uproots. Despite the water stipend, he thinks his subterfuge has gone unnoticed until some Guardis show up at his camp. 13 pages

Pop Squad (2006) - 5/5 - Cop shoots three kids point blank in the face and is left with the lingering reminder of a stuffed dinosaur, which he sues to track down the "collectibles" store. Being 150 years old with rejuvenation, I guess the process doesn't make the heart any softer but it does harden one's logic circuits. 25 pages

Yellow Card Man (2006) - 5/5 - Tranh was once a corporate fatcat but has since been dethroned and nows merely survives on the streets of Bangkok, where work and food are hard to come by. When confronted by the riches and gluttony of a man once under him employment, Tranh uses the loathing as a stepping stone to recapturing success. 33 pages

Softer (2007) - 5/5 - Johnathon is experiencing a certain euphoria in finally knowing that he has found freedom in knowing how his future will unfold. Unfortunately, this future doesn't include his wife Pia, who he just asphyxiated with a pillow and nows bathes with her in the bubble bath. 12 pages

Pump Six (2008) - 4/5 - The literate sewer technician is being awoken by his idiotic partner who says that the pumps are failing. They discover that the pumps are over a century old, that the maintenance logs have been ignored, and that the manufacturer has ceased to exist. Amid fornicating "trogs" and frolicking students, Max goes to the university in search of a real engineer. 31 pages

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