by Paolo Bacigalupi
Nailer is a Gulf Coast kid with a nasty job; he crawls through air ducts on abandoned oil tankers, scavenging copper wiring for his company. It's awful, miserable, toxic work, but it's a living, and also a coveted job among the "beach rats." What's worse, his home life is ruled by his abusive addict father. Nailer works hard to make quota every day and dreams of someday stumbling upon a really choice bit of scavenge, something that will make him rich enough to buy his way to a better life.
Then one day he hits the jackpot.
Of course, things are never as simple as they seem. I won't give away any more of the plot, but I will say that it's a thrilling, well-crafted and satisfying story. Like any other type of fiction, truly great science fiction features deep, memorable, flesh-and-blood characters. After reading Paolo Bacigalupi's short stories in "Pump 6" and his novel, "Windup Girl," I feel like his fiction has reached new heights with "Ship Breaker."