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Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi(1972- )
Paolo Bacigalupi 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, been nominated for the Nebula and Hugo awards, and has won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best sf short story of the year. Here’s Paolo’s Bacigalupi’s website. Twitter: paolobacigalupi

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker — (2010-2012) Young adult. Publisher: Set initially in a future shanty town in America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she’ll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

Paolo Bacigalupi Ship Breaker 2. The Drowned CitiesPaolo Bacigalupi Ship Breaker 2. The Drowned Cities

Ship Breaker: Gripping and grim YA

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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer, a teenager, is one of many people who live in shantytowns along the US Gulf Coast, trying to eke out a dangerous living by working on disassembling crews, taking apart abandoned — and now obsolete — oil tankers. The work is dangerous, and taking risks is almost a necessity, because if the young workers don't make quota, there are always other starving kids ready to take their jobs. Once the children get too big to crawl down the narrow ship ducts in search of copper wiring and other recyclable metals, there aren't many options left to them... and if they're not strong enough to do the heavier work, prostitution, crime or starvation are almost inevitable.

At the start of Ship Breaker, Nailer finds an undiscovered oil reservoir in the ship he is exploring — a lucky strike that would be sufficient to feed him and possi... Read More

The Drowned Cities: Brings weighty concerns to a YA audience

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The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

The oceans have swallowed the world’s coastlines. Although the Chinese have adapted to the new world – they have even built “Island Shanghai” – the American state has drowned beneath the rising tides. Now, only tattered American flags and decrepit skyscrapers remain on the coast, and the American government is a thing of the past. In spite of past efforts made by Chinese peacekeepers, adolescent refugees Mahlia and Mouse now live in the “Drowned Cities,” struggling to survive amidst competing scavengers, criminals, and warlords.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities is the sequel to Ship Breaker, which won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2011. Fans will be disappointed to learn that Nailer “Lucky Boy” Lopez does not appear in The Drowned Cities Read More

Pump Six and Other Stories: A stunningly good collection

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Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

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) — thre... Read More

The Windup Girl: Mixed opinions

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Reposting to include Stuart's new review:

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

My Body is Not My Own…

Having just finished Paolo Bacigalupi’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, I’m left rather bereft at how to describe, let alone review, The Windup Girl. I am not a big reader of science-fiction or dystopian thrillers, which means that no obvious comparisons come to mind, and the setting and tone of the novel are so unique (to me at least) that they almost defy description.

Set in a future Thailand where genetically engineered “megodonts” (elephants) provide manual labor and “cheshires” (cats) prowl the streets, the world’s population struggles against a bevy of diseases brought on by all the genetic tampering that’s been going on. Oil has long since run... Read More

The Alchemist and The Executioness: Two linked novellas

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The Alchemist and The Executioness by Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias Buckell

The Alchemist and The Executioness caught my eye as soon as it went up at Audible. (Both novellas are now available in print from Subterranean Press.) Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell offering linked fantasy novellas that take place in a shared world? Bacigalupi's story read by Jonathan Davis? What could be more promising? (It turns out that had I been familiar with Katherine Kellgren, who read Buckell's story, I would have been even more excited about this one!)

In this shared world, the use of magic causes the growth of bramble, a fast-growing, pervasive, and deadly plant that has taken over cities, making them uninhabitable. Crews of workers must fight... Read More

The Doubt Factory: A socially-conscious YA thriller

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The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s most recent stand-alone novel is a modern day young adult thriller. It’s about a rich girl named Alix who attends an elite highschool (uh oh, it’s already starting off wrong for me) who meets a mysterious sexy bad boy (oh gosh) who leads a diverse gang of socially conscious teenage vandals (ugh) who hope to change the world by taking down a public relations company that works for industries like Big Pharma. They hope to do this by stalking Alix and showing her how bad her father, one of the owners of the company, is.

At first Alix, after she finally figures out what the mystery stalker is all about, isn’t willing to believe that her father, a man who takes such good care of his family, could be so cold-hearted toward the rest of the world. Ah, but Alix has the hots for the sexy bad boy stalker (it wouldn’t be a YA novel ot... Read More

Magazine Monday: Riding the Electric Velocipede

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Electric Velocipede has intrigued me ever since I heard its name. I had to look up velocipede – it means any human-powered vehicle with one or more wheels, so usually it’s a bicycle. But an electric human-powered vehicle? How do those go together? Does that mean it’s a bicycle ridden by a robot? At any rate, what “Electric Velocipede” means for our purposes is “a quirky print magazine publishing science fiction and fantasy stories and poetry that won the 2009 Hugo for Best Fanzine.” It will go to an entirely electronic format in 2012.

Issue 20 (Winter 2010) of Electric Velocipede is the most recent edition available in print format. It co... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nebula-Nominated Novellas

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I’ve always thought that the novella was a perfect length for short science fiction or fantasy, because it gives an author space enough to build a complete world and form characters who live and breathe in the reader’s imagination. You need more room to do this in these genres than in mainstream literature, where an author can assume that the reader is at home in the world of his characters. Yet a novella is also short enough to be read in a single sitting – a perfect lunchtime read, for instance – and a reader can take in an author’s entire milieu and ideas in one gulp. Where copies of the novellas are available online for those who wish to read them, I have linked them so that you can have as good a week of lunches this week as I had last.

There are six novellas nominated for the Nebula this year. They are all of exceptionally high quality, and the variety is enormous, so much so that comparison of one to another se... Read More

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

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Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams assembles a wide variety of apocalypse-related fiction in Wastelands. some of which are older than I am, while others are more recent. What you end up with is a diverse anthology covering topics such as religion, war, and exploration while containing horror, comedy, and a sense of wonder.

The majority of the stories are easy to get into. Some stories are more subtle than others. Overall, Wastelands is an enjoyable read and the selection seems balanced. Having said that, here are my top three stories:

"Bread and Bombs" by M. Rickert is one of the more horrifying stories in this anthology, and this is achieved through her characterization and commentary on society. It's easy to jump into Rickert's text and ... Read More

Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories

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Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories edited by John Joseph Adams

Even people who don’t usually read science fiction will often be familiar with a few classic titles in the “dystopian SF” sub-genre. After all, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and of course the famous Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World are some of the few SF titles that have entered the mainstream literary canon to such an extent that they’ve become assigned school reading for many students. However, novel-length dystopian SF didn’t stop with those venerable classics, and can even be said to be thriving at the moment. See, for example, the recent success of Paolo Bacigalupi’s... Read More

The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011: Sample the best SFF

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The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 edited by Kevin J. Anderson

The Nebula Awards are one of the great institutions in science fiction and fantasy. Each year since 1965, the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have voted for the Best Novel, Novella (40,000-17,500 words), Novelette (17,500-7,500 words), and Short Story (less than 7,500 words) in SF and fantasy. Compiling a list of the nominees and winners for all those years would get you an excellent reading list and a comprehensive cross-view of the best that can be found in the ... Read More

Epic: Legends of Fantasy: Lives up to its title

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Epic: Legends of Fantasy by John Joseph Adams (editor)

Epic: Legends of Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams, is an anthology of stories written by some of the biggest names in epic fantasy. The book clocks in at over 600 pages not just because it’s very difficult to tell short epic stories (though some of these authors do manage to pull it off) but because here the authors are not just telling epic legends, they are legends in and of themselves. George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, Paolo Bacigalupi, Brandon Sanderson, Ursula K. LeGuin, Kate Elliott, Orson Scott Card, Tad Williams, Aliette de Bodard, Michael Moorcock, Melanie Rawn, Mary Robinette Kowal, N.K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Trudi Canavan,  and Juliet Marillier all contributed stories to this volume.

Epic: Legends of Fantasy opens with a novella by Read More

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction: Packed full of excellent SF stories

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Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction is packed full of excellent science fiction stories. I've been reading anthologies lately, partly to improve my own short story writing, and this is the best I've found so far. It contains stories by authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. ValenteJohn Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Read More

More speculative fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsZombie Baseball Beatdown — (2013) Publisher: In this inventive, fast-paced novel, New York Times bestselling and Printz Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi takes on hard-hitting themes — from food safety to racism and immigration — and creates a zany, grand-slam adventure that will get kids thinking about where their food comes from. The zombie apocalypse begins on the day Rabi, Miguel, and Joe are practicing baseball near their town’s local meatpacking plant and nearly get knocked out by a really big stink. Little do they know the plant’s toxic cattle feed is turning cows into flesh-craving monsters! The boys decide to launch a stealth investigation into the plant’s dangerous practices, unknowingly discovering a greedy corporation’s plot to look the other way as tainted meat is sold to thousands all over the country. With no grownups left they can trust, Rabi and his friends will have to grab their bats to protect themselves (and a few of their enemies) if they want to stay alive… and maybe even save the world.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Water Knife — (2015) Publisher: WATER IS POWER. Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times best-selling author of The Windup Girl and National Book Award finalist, delivers a near-future thriller that casts new light on how we live today—and what may be in store for us tomorrow. The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky. As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

 


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