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The collection opens strong with "Pocketful of Dharma", narrated by Chen, who plunges us easily into the world of future China. A tale of moral dilemma, self vs. selflessness, and uploaded consciousness, "Pocketful of Dharma" is a satisfying and comparatively light story. It serves as a good introduction to the Eastern flavor of two stories found later in the collection, "The Calorie Man" and "The Yellow Card Man", both set in the world of The Windup Girl. "The Yellow Card Man" in particular seems to be almost a prototype of the novel.
The strongest pieces in the collection may be the ones furthest from Bacigalupi's Windup milieu. "The Fluted Girl" is set in a decadent future of fiefdoms, where fame is the only currency that matters to the wealthy, and their subjects are victims of their masters' aspirations — and their perversions. Stevens ranges easily between the vulnerable Lidia — suspended in an eternal pre-adolescence — and her cold, ambitious mistress. The author's vivid world and the complicated, horrifying relationship between possessor and possessed come together in a story that the listener will find hard to forget.
In "The People of Sand and Slag" three nearly indestructible post-human friends discover a dog in the wasteland: fragile, mortal, needy, expensive, and the only one of its kind. Bacigalupi paints an original far-future landscape and peoples it with believable, relatable characters, voiced with the authenticity that Chen brings to all of his performances.
Narrator Jonathan Davis never disappoints in anything he does, but his true gift is dialog. In "Pop Squad" — a story in which people live forever and babies are vermin to be exterminated — Davis' talent brings each character to life, including the rebellious woman who dares to have a baby hidden away from the world and the population enforcers.
The weak link comes near the middle of the book. "The Pasho" lacks the intensity that we've come to expect from Bacigalupi, who has made a name for himself by covering new ground, both in setting and in his examination of human nature. Davis' compelling reading style carries the listener for a while, but in the end "The Pasho" fails to live up to the rest of the collection.
"Pump Six and Other Stories" is a strong collection by one of the rising stars of the speculative fiction field. Fans of his other work will find tales both familiar and fresh, and the book is a good introduction to those new to Bacigalupi's brand of dystopian fiction. —Christie Yant
The 11 stories in Pump Six represent the best of Paolo's work, including the Hugo nominee "Yellow Card Man", the Nebula-and Hugo-nominated story "The People of Sand and Slag", and the Sturgeon Award-winning story "The Calorie Man". The title story is original to this collection.
With this book, Paolo Bacigalupi takes his place alongside SF short-fiction masters Ted Chiang, Kelly Link and others, as an important young writer that directly and unabashedly tackles today's most important issues.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By J.G. on 09-12-11
I never wanted the stories to end.
I could listen to Paolo Bacigalupi for the rest of my life. I could just lock myself in my house and lay there, listening, (preferably with J. Davis narrating...he is fantastic) in a futuristic stupor...happily ever after.
I never wanted to leave the world of 'The Windup Girl', and gratefully returned through the stories of 'Pump Six'...now I wander aimlessly though other choices, from various authors...some of whom have been on my "to read" list forever, thinking, "I wish you were Paolo Bacigalupi".
This book is a rare and beautiful, brutal gift.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Noah on 05-12-11
Unrelentingly brutal, brilliantly imaginative
Paolo Bacigalupi write stories about bad people. Nearly everyone in the worlds he creates, including his protagonists, is a selfish, hardened, small-minded person frantically engaged in a Hobbesian struggle against nearly every other character. Trust, kindness, and friendliness are essentially nonexistent here. The ideas are wildly imaginative, the sci-fi cleverly crafted, and the worlds brilliantly realized. So if you like cool sci-fi and don't mind reading about brutal shmucks living hellish nightmares, this book is for you!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful