by Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi (pronounced "Batchy-Galoopy") has a sick fascination with humankind's abuse of technology. Rather than blurting out, at some merry social gathering, the latest disturbing news about endocrine disruptors getting into the water supply, as I have been known to do (sorry, everyone), Bacigalupi spins it into a world, a future whose inhabitants can barely remember anything different. Dystopian visions are, of course, a staple of science fiction, but these stories feel fresh -- rather than imagining those picking up the pieces after humankind has nearly destroyed itself, Bacigalupi often asks what happens after we've "perfected" ourselves, solving food shortages, conquering aging. While advances in technology seem able to solve almost any problem (with, of course, the help of our glorious corporate overlords), we are still humans; long-term thinking has never been our forté.
Bacigalupi presents these short stories in the order in which he wrote them -- a courageous choice that allows us to see his writing evolve over time. The first couple stories, though well written, were not my favorites, and I'd encourage anyone picking up Pump Six to read on, deeper into these darker worlds.