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METAtropolis Audible – Unabridged

3.5 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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By Lonnie E. Holder HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2010
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Common framework stories exist. "Thieves' World" has served as a framework for multiple anthologies since 1978. One thing that such anthologies have in common is that the different styles of the authors can make the anthology seem uneven.

METAtropolis contains five stories by five different authors, each introduced by editor and author John Scalzi. Though I expected METAtropolis to be in a single city, the authors set their stories in several locations. There are connections between the stories, but each story stands on its own.

The first story is "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake, narrated by actor Michael Hogan. Lake introduces Tyger Tyger as he attempts to enter Cascadiopolis. Tyger is charismatic and intelligent and quickly becomes influential and popular.

Puzzling were the parallel stories. A second, female person boldly enters Cascadiopolis, following Tyger. Then there is Bashar, a military leader of Cascadiopolis. Other significant characters are introduced, all centered on Tyger. In addition to the attempted character development, we learn much about Cascadiopolis, including tidbits that hint at bigger things never exploited.

John Scalzi tells us in the introduction to the story that the reason this story is first is that it provides the most description of the Cascadiopolis metatropolis. Unfortunately, that detail bogs the story down. Tyger's story contains interesting elements, but we deal with so much detail that the Tyger story often fades into the background and I became bored. Worse, by the time we get to the end of the story I was so bored that I actually no longer cared about Tyger. I was thankful that the story was over.
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Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Metatropolis is a collection of short stories about a fictional future world in which the United States government is much weaker and local governments have had to shoulder most of the responsibility for governing. We get to see 4 future settings in this anthology - Cascadia in the American Northwest, Detroit, New St. Louis and Scandinavia. While the U.S. government is much weaker, the role of technology has grown much stronger. There are virtual on-line worlds and cellphones are everywhere and even more plugged in than they are now. The five authors sat down and mapped out the ground rules of this future world and than separated to write their stories. John Scalzi edited the collection and was the last one to write a story. He specifically tailored his story to fill in the blanks left by the other four.

So far, so good but what about the individual stories?

What's good is pretty good, what's bad is real, real bad.

The first story is "In the Forests of the Night," by Jay Lake. It is bad. The worst of the bunch. The story concerns a messiah-like figure called Tyger Tyger who arrives at Cascadia, a city of anti-technology greens in the Cascades in the Washington/Oregon area. The messiah-figure concept was done poorly, the anti-capitalist, anti-technology, anti-religion angle was silly (for example, in one scene creationists storm the geology department of a university and kill all of the geologists). I doubt that Lake actually understands the meaning of the political term "Libertarian" and he certainly overuses the phrase "reputation economics" - in fact the concept is bantered around in the book so often that you'd think this was a new idea. Nah - just overuse of a cool-sounding phrase.
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Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had high hopes for this because I have read and books from several of the authors. Sadly, I don't think it represents their best work.

The first story set the mood... and maybe I am just dumb but I didn't 'get' it. Yes, there was some lovely imagery, descriptions that I could picture so clearly in my mind's eye. It was the story that lacked. What exactly was happening? And more importantly, what was the point?

Overall, this is my biggest problem with these stories. There is a message here, a overbearingly presented 'Capitalism is bad, Environmentalism is good' that overlaid all aspects of each story and frankly it spoiled them. It was hard to follow the stories when this message kept getting in the way.

I stopped and started listening a lot because I just couldn't relate to the characters and thus I could not enjoy the stories.
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Format: Paperback
This is a set of five stories meant to share a common theme of future cities. Of the stores, only the Scalzi story is very good. The rest are ponderous and preachy. I was often quite bored. The book reads like a political manifesto about how evil corporations are and how great it would be if everyone just shared everything.

Many have commented on the poor quality of the stories, but I've not seen many comments about the bad science in the book and many other ideas that are just not very sound. Much of the book is based on various forms of indoor farming, sometimes underground, but mainly in skyscrapers. Vertical farming has been proposed as an idea, but in general it does not work. The power requirements for a skyscraper to have farming on every floor are way too much for the solar panels they mount on the sides, which would also tend to block the direct sunlight they would need. Somehow this simple idea is ignored.

Two of the stories take place in Detroit. Have they been to Detroit? Wind power has a lot of potential, but much of the year a solar plant would be useless in Michigan due to the weather. They also want to make Detroit a car-free city, by making everyone use bicycles. Have they tried to ride a bike in the winter? They claim one of the authors is from the Detroit area. I don't believe it.

There is the idea of skyscrapers in Detroit that are abandoned. Nobody knows who owns them and nobody can buy or use them because they would have to pay decades of back taxes and such. The real owners can't use even them themselves because they would have to pay all of those back taxes. Oh, how they could help the people if they would just let them move in. But, the owners have hired a private security company to guard them. How many things are wrong with this idea?
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