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Metatropolis Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 8, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Editor Scalzi (Zoe's Tale) and four well-known writers thoughtfully postulate the evolution of cities, transcending postapocalyptic clichés to envision genuinely new communities and relationships. Self-sustaining walled cities struggle with their responsibilities to dying suburbs in Scalzi's Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis; goods are exchanged through multiple microtransactions in Tobias S. Buckell's Stochasti-City and a reputation economy in Elizabeth Bear's The Red in the Sky Is Our Blood. A lone man attempts to overthrow an early enclave in Jay Lake's In the Forests of the Night, while Karl Schroeder's To Hie from Far Celenia brilliantly combines steampunk, urban sociology and network theory as entire subcultures go off the grid. Each story shines on its own; as a group they reinforce one another, building a multifaceted view of a realistic and hopeful urban future. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Editor Scalzi (Zoe's Tale) and four well-known writers thoughtfully postulate the evolution of cities, transcending postapocalyptic clichés to envision genuinely new communities and relationships.... Each story shines on its own; as a group they reinforce one another, building a multifaceted view of a realistic and hopeful urban future.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Scalzi and his contributors/collaborators have created a fascinating shared urban future that each of them evokes with his or her particular strengths. Originally an audio anthology, this stellar collection is a fascinating example of shared world building, well deserving of a parallel life in print.” ―Booklist--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
The volume is set in a world where large political and commercial structures are failing. Climate changes and depleted resources are making major changes in the world. The old way of doing things is no longer possible.
New organizations and technologies are being developed within the old cities and new municipalities are rising. These urban areas are becoming more self-sufficient. The suburbs and rural areas are regressing into the Wilds.
- "Introduction" by John Scalzi explains how this work came into existence. He is very proud of the authors and their stories.
- "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake brings a charismatic man to Cascadia.
- "Stochasti-City" by Tobias S. Buckell leads a former soldier to an eco-terrorist group in Detroit.
- "The Red in the Sky is Our Blood" by Elizabeth Bear exposes a fugitive to a subversive group in Detroit.
- "Utere Nihil Non Extra Quirtationem Suis" by John Scalzi confronts a slackard with an
undesirable choice in New St. Louis.
- "To Hie fron Far Cilenia" by Karl Schroeder puts a nuclear inspection agent into two parallel investigations in Sweden.
These tales illuminate a future much different from the present. The physical features are much the same, but the political and economic environments are greatly changed. Technology is smaller and more accessible with 3-D printers readily available.
With the world changing around them, some people find new ways of coping. People retreat into tribes and smaller groups. Naturally, the old political hierarchy is opposed to these innovations.
Highly recommended for anyone else who enjoys tales of evolving societies, ecological activism, and persevering folks. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin
The above is the "bad", if you can call it that. Now the good - and there is a lot of good. The good is that there is there are some page turning burners with plenty of action to offset the slower moving stories. Scalzi's entry offers a view from the other side of all of the other stories, which is both fun and at the same time cautionary; it says a lot more than many may want to admit about our society's "head-in-the-sand" views. The even better news is that there is one story in this book that is worth the price alone: Karl Schroeder's story (...far Celenia). It closes the collection out by predicting a future that is entirely plausible at about every angle I can think to approach it from. In fact, it's spot-on enough to be a bit scary, because if you pay attention to the news, you can see this potentially coming someday. It has a little bit of a thriller aspect thrown in (a chase through a sub-sub-sub culture for an elusive son of a protagonist - a chase made through a culture that is as elusive to enter and navigate as the son being searched for is). It has pieces of existing technology taken to the next level, much of which, if put in the hands of someone like, perhaps, Elon Musk, would be a reality within decades and the biggest cash cow of all time. It has the outsider's economy as viewed from a largely disinterested protagonist who is focused on his own goal, and who himself isn't exactly sure just what this alternate-yet-real daily life means and raises many other questions such an off-the-grid (Bitcoin, anyone?) economy could evolve into. In fact, the protagonist does delve - and evolve, for his own reasons (so I'm not spoiling anything), and the reader finds out soon how deep the rabbit hole goes. It is my opinion that this one story, the close to this excellent short story collection, predicts our future, and maybe a future coming sooner than many might like to think. To repeat: you are reading a likely future as you read this - just as you would have been had you read any past Sci-Fi book at the time of its original printing now considered prophetic. All I can say is, beware of any virtual reality games coming from Google glass or any such ilk that promises an all-encompassing virtual reality. You would be witness to step one of where this story goes should something like that occur.
But it's ok, you can always keep your head in the sand and complain that the book does nothing but bash your brains in with some imagined implausible future of our city life. Quite a bit of this is more likely than many of us would like to admit, and that can be jarring. Which, to me, is a sign of a great Sci-Fi book: it is not as sci-fi so much as think-tank.
If I had to make a nitpick other than the one dud story, it would be Scalzi's introductions to each story. They stand on their own, they don't need a preface and a set up, Johnny.
The stories are cool, complex, individual and cooperative, all by established authors. Each one is a flavored glimpse into this world, a future perhaps not far from our own. The old school gamer in me wants to see these cities as settings hosting some kind of intense, subversive RPG.
Very much hopeful for more tales in the Metatropolis of tomorrow!
As much as I enjoyed the stories I have to take the price into account.