Saturday, October 1, 2011

Power Players: Paolo Bacigalupi

Identifying current trends in technology and culture and projecting them into the future has always been a big part of science fiction, and author Paolo Bacigalupi does this better than anyone with respect to the Earth's environmental conditions. Over numerous short stories (most collected in the spectacular anthology Pump Six) and a full-length novel (The Windup Girl), Bacigalupi describes human civilization trudging along through a bleak environmental dystopia, placing the reader at variable stages of collapse. Most of his short stories focus on one particular environmental facet, but taken as a whole a creepy sense of continuity emerges. Among the horror scenarios detailed are: peak oil, genetically modified food, transhumanism and naturalness, climate change refugees, biological warfare between agribusiness conglomerates, overpopulation, and water politics in a drought-devastated Southwestern U.S.  I recently read The Gambler, a fantastic novelette about near-future internet news coverage and environmental journalism. Check it out here.

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