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239 pages, Hardcover
First published February 1, 2008
Wang Jun stood on the rain-slicked streets of old Chengdu and stared up into the drizzle at Huojianzhu. It rose into the evening darkness, a massive city core, dwarfing even Chengdu's skyscrapers. Construction workers dangled from its rising skeleton, swinging from one section of growth to the next on long rappelling belts. Others clambered unsecured, digging their fingers into the honeycomb structure, climbing the struts with careless dangerous ease. Soon the growing core would overwhelm the wet-tiled roofs of the old city. Then Huojianzhu, the Living Architecture, would become Chengdu entirely.The mind view conjured by Bacigalupi is amazing. And while the rest of the story, which concerns a beggar boy who comes into possession of a unique and valuable artifact of religious significance felt a bit rough, it was still miles ahead of what I would nave expected from a first work. 3.0 stars.
It grew on lattices of minerals, laying its own skeleton and following with cellulose skin. Infrastructure strong and broad, growing and branching, it settled roots deep into the green fertile soil of the Sichuan basin. It drew nutrients and minerals from the soil and sun, and the water of the rancid Bing Jiang; sucking at pollutants as willingly as it ate the sunlight which filtered through twining sooty mist.
Within, its veins and arteries grew pipelines to service the waste and food and data needs of its coming occupants. It was an animal vertical city built first in the fertile minds of the Biotects and now growing into reality. Energy pulsed from the growing creature. It would stand a kilometer high and five wide when fully mature. A vast biologic city, which other than its life support would then lie dormant as humanity walked its hollowed arteries, clambered through its veins and nailed memories to its skin in the rituals of habitation.
They stood revealed, pale elfin creatures of music. The guests around them gasped as the notes poured out brighter now, unmuffled by clinging clothes. The girls' musical graftings shone: cobalt boreholes in their spines, glinting stops and keys made of brass and ivory that ran along their fluted frames and contained a hundred possible instruments within the structure of their bodies.I don't imagine this story will leave me anytime soon. 3.5 to 4.0 stars.
It was a dance of seduction and acquiescence. They had other dances, solos and duets, some chaste, others obscene, but for their debut, Belari had chosen this one. The energy of their music increased, violent, climactic, until at last she and Nia lay upon the floor, expended, sheathed in sweat, bare twins tangled in musical lasciviousness. Their body music fell silent.
We flew to Hawaii for a swimming vacation and we brought the dog with us…Lisa was a good swimmer. She flashed through the ocean’s metallic sheen like an eel out of history and when she surfaced, her naked body glistened with hundreds of iridescent petroleum jewels...When the Sun started to set, Jaak lit the ocean on fire with his 101. We all sat and watched as the Sun’s great red ball sank through veils of smoke, its light shading deeper crimson with every minute. Waves rushed flaming onto the beach. Jaak got out his harmonica and played while Lisa and I made love on the sand.The end of the story is both predictable and tragic, but what I was left with was a feeling of unease that went far deeper than the fate of dog. 5.0 stars
At first, when California started winning its water lawsuits and shutting off cities, the displaced people just followed the water—right to California. It took a little while before the bureaucrats realized what was going on, but finally someone with a sharp pencil did the math and realized that taking in people along with their water didn’t solve a water shortage.Well-written and very prescient, but not one that moved me as much as some of the others. 2.5 stars.
The familiar stench of unwashed bodies, cooked food, and shit washes over me as I come through the door. Cruiserlights flicker through the blinds, sparkling in rain and illuminating the crime scene with strobes of red and blue fire. A kitchen. A humid mess. A chunky woman huddles in the corner, clutching closed her nightgown. Fat thighs and swaying breasts under stained silk. Squad goons crowding her, pushing her around, making her sit, making her cower. Another woman, young-looking and pretty, pregnant and black-haired, is slumped against the opposite wall, her blouse spackled with spaghetti remains. Screams from the next room: kids.PB drops us right in the middle of the story with no set up, and when the scene reaches its climax, it is a complete jaw-dropper. I can’t tell you how much reading that passage affected me. It will linger in my psyche.
"Lisa was a good swimmer. She flashed through the ocean’s metallic sheen like an eel out of history and when she surfaced, her naked body glistened with hundreds of iridescent petroleum jewels.I would hate to ever be trapped in the world of Paolo Bacigalupi's imagination. It is intense and grim and bleak and full of "you did not just go there!" moments. He does not hesitate to immerse the reader into the aspects of life that are dark and dirty and filthy and repulsive and disgusting and repelling and disturbing. Even seemingly hopeful endings on a closer inspection turn out to be just distractions, and actually the hopelessness remains there and is in no danger of going anywhere.
When the Sun started to set, Jaak lit the ocean on fire with his 101. We all sat and watched as the Sun’s great red ball sank through veils of smoke, its light shading deeper crimson with every minute. Waves rushed flaming onto the beach."