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Book Title: La Fille flûte: et autres fragments de futurs brisés|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 26.75 MB
v The author of the book: Paolo Bacigalupi
Edition: Au Diable Vauvert
Date of issue: May 13th 2014
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books La Fille flûte: et autres fragments de futurs brisés:Besides brilliant, inventive and superb, the best way to describe Paolo Bacigulupi’s collection of short fiction is: G…R…I…M! Do not go into PB’s work looking for gumdrops and teddy bears, because his stories will bludgeon your mood until your happy is a bruised, battered mess. Still, this is one emotional spanking you will love, because Bacigalupi's prose contains some of the most colorful, intensely unique imagery being produced in SF.
The stories in Pump Six, almost without exception, concern environmental dystopias that are so dark that they camp on the border of horror. Like John Brunner's masterful novels, Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, the tone of Bacigalupi’s tales is stiflingly bleak, and there’s an ever-present, accusatory finger wagging at a humanity that has FUBARed up the Earth and left any possibility of a happy ending well out of reach. To these ecological nightmares, Paolo brings a fluid, organic, eminently readable style that reminds me of a blend between Charles Stross and Ted Chiang.
As a whole, this is an incredibly strong collection, without a blister rust-covered lemon in the bunch. In fact, even the pieces that don't rise to the lofted level of expectation left in the wake of the singularly sublime The Windup Girl, there were still breath-stealing moments of awed appreciation for this burgeoning SF master.
Okay, now for the stories...
Pocketful of Dharma: (Nominee: Locus Award)
PB's first published story is a perfect example of what I was referring to above as "moments of awe" that occur even when the story itself doesn't completely come together. Compared to the other stories in this collection, I thought this was the second weakest, and yet the opening of the story, wherein is described a biological skyscraper, was memorable: Wang Jun stood on the rain-slicked streets of old Chengdu and stared up into the drizzle at Huojianzhu. It rose into the evening darkness, a massive city core, dwarfing even Chengdu's skyscrapers. Construction workers dangled from its rising skeleton, swinging from one section of growth to the next on long rappelling belts. Others clambered unsecured, digging their fingers into the honeycomb structure, climbing the struts with careless dangerous ease. Soon the growing core would overwhelm the wet-tiled roofs of the old city. Then Huojianzhu, the Living Architecture, would become Chengdu entirely.
It grew on lattices of minerals, laying its own skeleton and following with cellulose skin. Infrastructure strong and broad, growing and branching, it settled roots deep into the green fertile soil of the Sichuan basin. It drew nutrients and minerals from the soil and sun, and the water of the rancid Bing Jiang; sucking at pollutants as willingly as it ate the sunlight which filtered through twining sooty mist.
Within, its veins and arteries grew pipelines to service the waste and food and data needs of its coming occupants. It was an animal vertical city built first in the fertile minds of the Biotects and now growing into reality. Energy pulsed from the growing creature. It would stand a kilometer high and five wide when fully mature. A vast biologic city, which other than its life support would then lie dormant as humanity walked its hollowed arteries, clambered through its veins and nailed memories to its skin in the rituals of habitation. The mind view conjured by Bacigalupi is amazing. And while the rest of the story, which concerns a beggar boy who comes into possession of a unique and valuable artifact of religious significance felt a bit rough, it was still miles ahead of what I would nave expected from a first work. 3.0 stars.
The Fluted Girl: (Nominee: Sturgeon & Locus Award)
This story, along with "Pop Squad" below, were the two stories that affected me the most in the collection. Set in a world in which government has devolved into feudal fiefdoms ruled by a culture of entertainment, and biological modifications and extreme surgeries are employed to develop "celebrities" to enhance the reputation of their lords, this story involves one of the most original, and terrifying SF concepts I've encountered (the title is a big hint). While I didn’t enjoy this as much as some of the later pieces, the imagery evoked during the story’s pivotal sequence is nothing short of mind-bursting in its melding of emotion and horrific eroticism. They stood revealed, pale elfin creatures of music. The guests around them gasped as the notes poured out brighter now, unmuffled by clinging clothes. The girls' musical graftings shone: cobalt boreholes in their spines, glinting stops and keys made of brass and ivory that ran along their fluted frames and contained a hundred possible instruments within the structure of their bodies.
It was a dance of seduction and acquiescence. They had other dances, solos and duets, some chaste, others obscene, but for their debut, Belari had chosen this one. The energy of their music increased, violent, climactic, until at last she and Nia lay upon the floor, expended, sheathed in sweat, bare twins tangled in musical lasciviousness. Their body music fell silent. I don't imagine this story will leave me anytime soon. 3.5 to 4.0 stars.
The People of Sand and Slag: (Nominee: Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award)
One of my favorite stories, this piece was my first inkling that PB was going to enlarge and redefine my conception of SF story-telling. Set in an environmentally destroyed future, in which rather than change the ecosystem, humans have modified themselves to survive on a polluted planet (e.g., they subsist on sand, can regrow limbs, breathe toxic fumes, etc…). A group of miners discover a dog, one of the last biologics left on the planet. What ensues is less about the plot and more about the conversation about what it means to be human, and whether these altered humans, who seem perfectly content with their lives, have lost something precious. One of the things I really admired about this piece is the way PB doesn’t draw attention to the world-building, but puts it out there for us to find. We flew to Hawaii for a swimming vacation and we brought the dog with us…Lisa was a good swimmer. She flashed through the ocean’s metallic sheen like an eel out of history and when she surfaced, her naked body glistened with hundreds of iridescent petroleum jewels...When the Sun started to set, Jaak lit the ocean on fire with his 101. We all sat and watched as the Sun’s great red ball sank through veils of smoke, its light shading deeper crimson with every minute. Waves rushed flaming onto the beach. Jaak got out his harmonica and played while Lisa and I made love on the sand. The end of the story is both predictable and tragic, but what I was left with was a feeling of unease that went far deeper than the fate of dog. 5.0 stars
“Knowledge is simply a terrible ocean we must cross, and hope that wisdom lies on the other side.”
A bit of a departure from the rest of the stories, this story addresses issues of heritage, tradition and progress. A young man born to a culture of harshness and strict traditions, returns home after being educated in a progressive, scholarly society and confronts his grandfather. I think I may enjoy this more upon a subsequent reading, but I felt my attention wandering a bit in the middle. 3.0 stars.
The Calorie Man: (Winner: Sturgeon Award, Nominee: Hugo and Locus Award)
This story introduces the world of The Windup Girl, and is one of my favorites. Following the collapse of the petroleum-based civilization, and the ravaging of crops by hyper-aggressive genetically-engineered plagues, a resource-strapped bioeconomy has arisen in which the most valuable commodity is joules derived from the burning of calories, and then stored as kinetic energy. Mega whoreporations control the patents on plague-resistant strains of foodstuffs that they ruthlessly protect. The world-building and the writing in this one shows a new level of growth in PB’s work and I loved it. 5.0 stars.
The Tamarisk Hunter:
Not one of my favorites, but still a decent story. This time, Bacigalupi takes on drought as water wars between California and the Western States have devolved into bloody, armed-conflicts complete with draconian conservation laws. At first, when California started winning its water lawsuits and shutting off cities, the displaced people just followed the water—right to California. It took a little while before the bureaucrats realized what was going on, but finally someone with a sharp pencil did the math and realized that taking in people along with their water didn’t solve a water shortage. Well-written and very prescient, but not one that moved me as much as some of the others. 2.5 stars.
In a collection full of dark stories, this one still manages to raise its head and shoulders above the rest. The beginning of this story is a serious gut shot. In an not so utopian future, immortality has become a fact and natural death virtually eliminated. The tradeoff is that population control is strictly and violently enforced. If no one is dying, no one can be born. Our main character is a member of the “Pop Squad” that hunts down and “deals with” renegade women who illegally procreate. The familiar stench of unwashed bodies, cooked food, and shit washes over me as I come through the door. Cruiserlights flicker through the blinds, sparkling in rain and illuminating the crime scene with strobes of red and blue fire. A kitchen. A humid mess. A chunky woman huddles in the corner, clutching closed her nightgown. Fat thighs and swaying breasts under stained silk. Squad goons crowding her, pushing her around, making her sit, making her cower. Another woman, young-looking and pretty, pregnant and black-haired, is slumped against the opposite wall, her blouse spackled with spaghetti remains. Screams from the next room: kids. PB drops us right in the middle of the story with no set up, and when the scene reaches its climax, it is a complete jaw-dropper. (view spoiler)[ I pull out my Grange. Their heads kick back in successive jerks, bang bang bang down the line, holes appearing on their foreheads like paint and their brains spattering out the back. Their bodies flip and skid on the black mirror floor. They land in jumbled piles of misaligned limbs. For a second, gunpowder burn makes the stench bearable. (hide spoiler)] I can’t tell you how much reading that passage affected me. It will linger in my psyche.
From this nightmare beginning, the story becomes another tale of a revived conscience competing against the new status quo. I was actually a little disappointed that PB didn’t continue to push the envelope in this piece as the ending was a bit of a letdown. It’s like Paolo was saying, ‘I just can’t take you there.’ I guess I’m okay with that as my nightmares have enough material for the moment. 4.5 stars.
Yellow Card Man: (Nominee: Hugo, Sturgeon, and Locus Award)
This is a direct prequel to The Windup Girl and the feel of the story will seem very familiar to those who have read that novel. This is PB’s most accomplished story to date and you can see the swift sloping curve of his skills as a writer. Atmosphere, world-building, nuanced characters and an emotional underpinning that really dazzles. Outstanding. 5.0 stars.
My least favorite story in the collection and one that feels completely out of place with its fellow tales. A psychological horror piece about a man who randomly kills his wife one morning. Either I missed something of PB did, because this did nothing for me. 2.0 stars.
Pump Six (Winner: Locus Award)
A superb way to end this collection. This reminded me of C.M. Kornbluth’s classic novella, The Marching Morons, except with PB’s environmentally-themed stamp on it. In a collapsing society where intelligence has dropped markedly, all of the machinery from 100 years ago is beginning to breakdown…and no one knows how to fix it. 4.5 stars.
Overall, this is a very worth-while collection of one of the brightest stars in the SF universe.
4.5 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!
Read information about the authorPaolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in High Country News, Salon.com, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. It has been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for three Nebula and five Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best sf short story of the year.
His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. His short story collection PUMP SIX AND OTHER STORIES was a 2008 LOCUS Award winner for Best Collection and also named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly. His novel SHIP BREAKER won the 2011 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. He currently lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is working on a new novel.
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