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Pump Six and Other Stories Paperback – November 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bacigalupi's stellar first collection of 10 stories displays the astute social commentary and consciousness-altering power of the very best short form science fiction. The Hugo-nominated The Calorie Man explores a post–fossil fuel future where genetically modified crops both feed and power the world, and greedy megacorporations hold the fates of millions in their hands. The People of Sand and Slag envisions a future Earth as a contaminated wasteland inhabited by virtually indestructible post-humans who consume stone and swim in petroleum oceans. The Tamarisk Hunter deals with the effects of global warming on water rights in the Southwest, while the title story, original to this volume, follows a New York sewage treatment worker who struggles to repair his antiquated equipment as the city's inhabitants succumb to the brain-damaging effects of industrial pollutants. Deeply thought provoking, Bacigalupi's collected visions of the future are equal parts cautionary tale, social and political commentary and poignantly poetic, revelatory prose. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Bacigalupi's stellar first collection of 10 stories displays the astute social commentary and consciousness-altering power of the very best short form science fiction. Deeply thought provoking, Bacigalupi's collected visions of the future are equal parts cautionary tale, social and political commentary and poignantly poetic, revelatory prose. (Starred Review, named to PW s Best-of-the-Year list) --Publishers Weekly

These are not subtle stories. Bacigalupi makes no secret of his social attitudes, but he handles political commentary with grace and packs a lot of thought into quite a small space. These pieces aren t just platforms for cultural critique; they re solid, fascinating world building. ... Fortunately, Bacigalupi still allows the future some possibility for redemption. Every story is well worth rereading. --Booklist

Bacigalupi creates believable, detailed, lived-in futures that just happen to portray an ugly set of sunsets for humanity on Earth. ... Bacigalupi is what you might call the anti-Heinlein: There are no saviors or competent white men in his worlds, just occasions for survival. He s a truly dark bard, in the spirit of Ellison at his most vivid and cynical. --The Daily Camera

These are not subtle stories. Bacigalupi makes no secret of his social attitudes, but he handles political commentary with grace and packs a lot of thought into quite a small space. These pieces aren t just platforms for cultural critique; they re solid, fascinating world building. ... Fortunately, Bacigalupi still allows the future some possibility for redemption. Every story is well worth rereading. --Booklist

Bacigalupi creates believable, detailed, lived-in futures that just happen to portray an ugly set of sunsets for humanity on Earth. ... Bacigalupi is what you might call the anti-Heinlein: There are no saviors or competent white men in his worlds, just occasions for survival. He s a truly dark bard, in the spirit of Ellison at his most vivid and cynical. --The Daily Camera
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597802026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597802024
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I first read a short story by Paolo Bacigalupi in High Country News. It was "The Tamarisk Hunter" about a man named Lolo who removes the weed trees from a water hungry Southwest and who has a darker secret. It was well written and very plausible to those who know the tamarisk (or saltcedar, as it is also called) and the water problems of the southwestern border states. I then found this collection titled "Pump Six and Other Stories" in the local library.

These are dark stories of a Dalai Lama in a datacube, a modified human, a world of scavengers, a cultural conflict, genetically engineered life forms, population crises, life in a future Thailand, murder and a polluted world, as well as the tamarisk hunter. To a large degree these are cautionary tales - tales of what might be, if we take no action or take the wrong action. The biggest fear is that they will happen despite anything we can do and the author does not relieve us of this fear. Finally, these are finely crafted stories of the very near and far futures of human existence and they will leave you very uneasy. For all that, they are well worth the reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Once in a while you stumble across a writer who isn't a big name, but you're convinced that he must have many existing books that are ripe for discovery, because in the first one you find so much experience and maturity. Well this is actually Paolo Bacigalupi's first book and I'm already salivating for more, as he has unleashed what has to be the most bodacious speculative fiction debut in recent memory. The short stories here are from Bacigalupi's periodic and consistently award-winning submissions to various magazines and anthologies. (Watch for his debut novel in late 2009). Bacigalupi's stories are mostly near-future dystopias, but he has a unique specialization - dystopias caused by current environmental problems or challenges in international relations.

For example, "The People of Sand and Slag" and "The Tamarisk Hunter" feature near-future humans who have gone to terrifying lengths to adapt to the ruination of the world by our current pollution patterns, and "The Calorie Man" shows a disturbing worldview based on the little-known current social problem of the creeping corporate control of farming practices. "The Pasho" and "Yellow Card Man" are allegories of globalization and the slowly developing misery to come from this modern ideological craze. Another high point here (in a collection full of high points) is the beautifully disturbing "The Fluted Girl," a tale of body modification gone mad. Bacigalupi's stories are consistently haunting but often with open-ended conclusions, giving the reader a feeling of possible hope amidst ecological and social chaos. If you're into modern speculative fiction and distressingly believable dystopian visions, keep an eye on Paolo Bacigalupi. A star is born. [~doomsdayer520~]
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Format: MP3 CD
In Pump Six and Other Stories, which won the Locus Award for Best Collection, Paolo Bacigalupi treats us to these ten excellently written biopunk stories:

"Pocketful of Dharma" (1999) -- a young street urchin finds a digital storage device which contains some startling data. This is Bacigalupi's first short story -- and it's impressive. I love the premise of this story and its ambiguous ending. It would be fun to see Bacigalupi extend this one into a novel.

"The Fluted Girl" (2003) -- a young girl is at the mercy of her cruel and ambitious mistress. There's a scene in this story that's eerie, chilling, and strangely beautiful. Another ambiguous but satisfying ending.

"The People of Sand and Slag" (2004, Nebula nomination, Hugo nomination) -- three colleagues are surprised to find an extinct species: a dog. Although this one was nominated for a Nebula and Hugo and has some fascinating ideas, it lacks Bacigalupi's usual subtlety and feels a bit heavy-handed.

"The Pasho" (2004) -- an educated and enlightened man returns to his primitive village. This one has a surprise ending that was really well done.

"The Calorie Man" (2005, Theodore Sturgeon Award, Hugo nomination) -- set in Paolo Bacigalupi's Windup world (the setting for his multi-award winning novel The Windup Girl), generipping and bioterrorism have destroyed the world's food supply, leaving an oligopoly of a few biotech firms. It took me a while to get the feel for this blighted world, partly because I was listening on audio and couldn't see the words (e.g., At first I didn't realize it was "joules" and not "jewels"). Once I read a couple of pages of the print version at Nightshade's website, I was fine and loved it. This is excellent world building.
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Format: Kindle Edition
There are some books (and stories) that you want to like... but can't. Unfortunately, this collection of Mr. Bacigalupi's work falls squarely in that category for me. These stories are lush - many of them set in the same near-future dystopian world. There are a lot of good things in these stories as well. The storytelling is lush and skillful. The characters are NOT the run-of-the-mill white, middle-class Americans you so often end up seeing... but are still so convincingly written that you empathize with them anyway. The future dystopia is clearly and thoughfully constructed without being the same old same old with a fresh coat of paint.

The problem I had is that many of the stories were... depressing. Not disturbing. I'm okay with disturbing. Instead, many of the stories were just sad. It often seemed as though a patina of hopelessness was washed over the pages. And I don't do sad very well, even though I recognize the skill both in the worldbuilding and writing itself.

As it stands, the skill on display made this collection worth reading, even if I didn't actually *like* it. But if depressing plots don't bother you, then Mr. Bacigalupi's writing in this collection will be a treat, and you should snag it ASAP.
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