David's Reviews > METAtropolis: The Dawn of Uncivilization

METAtropolis by Jay Lake
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's review
Apr 14, 2011

it was ok
Read in April, 2011

Metatropolis is an interesting project: it is a shared-universe project which explores the post-consumer face of cities. Overall, I think that it attempts more than it achieves - the authors have a tendency to veer into no-second-law-of-thermodynamics-land, which is a lovely place, but seeing it like that jarred me out of the moment. The stories are by and large pretty good: all of the authors are talented, but I wasn't left with the "and then what happened?" moment regarding the characters.

I think that the authors successfully describe the destructive power of decentralization, and they attempt to show the constructive power, but this is the attempt that does not succeed. For instance, 3D printers are lovely things, but they still require plastic bolts as raw material; if we're to expect that this is something other than pixie dust, we shouldn't forget that the industry which makes those bolts is a requisite part of the 3D printer economy. Likewise, "nano" gets used in a way similar to "magic" - while the nanites are small, the industry required to manufacture them in any quantity sufficient to do something is not. Finally, some of the stores present as utopian - the authors convey a sense of thinking that this world they're describing is an improvement on the world in which we live: I found it strikingly unpleasant, and three good meals away from total dog-eat-dog anarchy (as contrasted with the benevolent anarchy described in one of the stories).

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