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Pump Six and Other Stories

(The Windup Universe #0.5, 0.6)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  7,899 ratings  ·  884 reviews
Paolo Bacigalupi's debut collection demonstrates the power and reach of the science fiction short story. Social criticism, political parable, and environmental advocacy lie at the center of Paolo's work. Each of the stories herein is at once a warning, and a celebration of the tragic comedy of the human experience.

The eleven stories in Pump Six represent the best Paolo's w
Hardcover, 239 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Night Shade Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Ville Kokko So based on the two answers before this one, the book is full of stories that would be great food for thought for high school seniors, but making them…moreSo based on the two answers before this one, the book is full of stories that would be great food for thought for high school seniors, but making them read them will get you fired.(less)
Attika No, not at all.

Actually, I'd recommend reading this book of shorts _before_ reading The Windup Girl. This is because two of the stories -- The Calorie…more
No, not at all.

Actually, I'd recommend reading this book of shorts _before_ reading The Windup Girl. This is because two of the stories -- The Calorie Man, and Yellow Card Man -- take place in the same fictional world (and we catch a glimpse of the Windup Girl in Yellow Card Man).

By reading these two short stories, you'll immediately know if you want to invest the time in reading the more involved, longer novel.(less)

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Besides brilliant, inventive and superb, the best way to describe Paolo Bacigulupi’s collection of short fiction is: G…R…I…M! Do not go into PB’s work looking for gumdrops and teddy bears, because his stories will bludgeon your mood until your happy is a bruised, battered mess. Still, this is one emotional spanking you will love, because Bacigalupi's prose contains some of the most colorful, intensely unique imagery being produced in SF.

The stories in Pump Six, almost without exception, concern
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bleak. Overwhelmingly bleak. To the point where it sucks out all the happiness out of you, leaving you hollow and unsettled.

Memorable. To the point where it feels as if it's crawling under your skin to stay with you for a very long time.

If you have read The Windup Girl, the worlds that Bacigalupi creates in this collection of short stories - the themes, the mood, the settings - will be quite familiar to you. Two of the stories here, actually, are set in the same world as that novel, and one of t
It took me a loooong time to get through this book, and not because it wasn't good, but because I was bloody scared of it. I would finish one story looking like this @.@ and then put the book aside for a while to get some courage to read another one.

Bacigalupi is the author who doesn't do safe and comforting. His visions of our future are brutal, unforgiving and totally too believable.

Let's take The Fluited Girl - for me the scariest story in this anthology. The idea Bacigalupi extrapolates her
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Hey Paolo, lighten up man, it’s gonna be OK.

Somewhere southwest of cyberpunk, we’ll call it Biopunk, Bacigalupi’s 2006 collection of stories that are quintessentially Bacigalupian.

I’m pretty sure our Paolo has read some of the good doctor Thomas Robert Malthus’ work as there is an overwhelming theme of scarcity, loss and might have been. He shares with Phillip K. Dick an affinity for the near in the future downturn – no far future post-apocalyptic nightmare or dystopian bad day this, OH NO, Paol
A complete slog. Why? Because Paolo writes about the inglorious in humanity with clear eyes and precise language. I'm reminded of a line: he'll show you your own heart in such a way that you would rip it out.

The Fluted Girls: disturbing view of a dystopia. disturbing view of sexuality.
The People of Sand and Slag: silicon-based people might have lost a little of humanity, but they feel it echo after they find a dog.
This collection of short stories paints a very bleak picture of the future that I found quite disturbing. This is without doubt the darkest book I've ever read.

At first I was finding these stories so depressing and uncomfortable that I tried to take a break from them. I found that I couldn't. Perhaps they suit my current mood, but I felt that once I had a taste of this depth I couldn't stay away.

I didn't love every story in equal measure, but each one sent a shock up my spine and gave an insig
This volume makes me remember how much I love short stories. I love how they sneak up and punch you right in the eye, then leave abruptly without even explaining themselves. They don’t have much time, so they have to be blunt. I can really appreciate that.

I won’t summarize all of the stories, but they are all intense. They are all set in not so distant futures, but are all chillingly related to present day events. The calamities taking place in these stories are exaggerated (a bit), but what’s u
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
This is a collection of short sci-fi stories with most of them set in near future dystopia. The stories are very good, but depressing. I mean, 1984 type depressing. What really got me when I read this book is that none of the future possibilities described are not unlikely to happen, just like 1984 which I already mentioned. In fact, I would recommend reading this book to people just to see the possible directions we are happily going in. I also found last several stories to be very disturbing i ...more
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Paolo Bacigalupi's collection of short stories deals primarily with environmental and bioethics issues: the politics of food (“The Calorie Man”); water management (“The Tamarisk Hunter”); waste management (“Pump Six”); de-evolution (also “Pump Six”); and the manipulation of bodies, whether for entertainment or for longevity (“The Fluted Girl,” “The Pop Squad,” and “The People of Sand and Slag”).

All but "Softer," a meditative story of a man who kills his wife and the way he deals with it, are ne
Kat  Hooper
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

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.

Paolo Bacigalupi burst onto the scene in a big way with his excellent SF novel The Windup Girl, which rightfully won both glowing reviews and major awards, and followed it up with a great YA novel, Ship Breaker. Both books are set in near-future dystopian settings in which the ruined environment plays a big role. Given all of this, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Paolo Bacigalupi’s first collection of short stories, Pump Six and Other Stories, is 1) also excellent and 2) continues the t ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you're not a fan of the well-thought-out dystopia, this book is not for you. These stories are grim. Set in worlds where the oil has run out, chemical buildup causes massive birth defects, and worse, these are the cautionary tales that give environmentalists nightmares. At the same time, they're lyrical, rewarding, and for all that they play with world-shaking cataclysms, focus on the best of stubborn, resilient humanity.

For fans of The Windup Girl, there are two stories here from that unive
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dark, perverted, imaginative and acutely descriptive of our darker nature. Every story caught and kept me until it's twisted ending. He definitely is a talented writer. And a great story teller. But a bit psycho and probably not a particularly nice person. Which makes for perfectly willing suspension if belive. Guest stars include the 15th Dalai Lama, a priesthood that keeps us from developing disastrous tech too quickly, a sociopathic husband making Peace with his wife's murder. Debauchery is a ...more
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A fantastic collection of stories but heavy on the dark and gloomy. Simular to the theme you'll find in The Windup Girl. Makes most dystopian stories seem like a picnic in the park with crumpets and ladyfingers by comparison. Be that as it may, it's outstanding. ...more
None of the stories in this collection were bad, and some I would rate 4 or even 4.5 stars individually, but nothing really impressed me like the The Windup Girl did. I think my greatest disappointment was the similarity of all the themes: Bacigalupi writes dystopian stories about humanity's greed and selfishness and environmental devastation, and that's all he writes about. Two of the stories in Pump Six are from the same world as The Windup Girl, and most of the others easily could be. He's a ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of stories is a harbinger, I think, of the direction science fiction will continue to take in the 21st century, and Bacigalupi will likely be remembered as one of its guiding forces. Call it biopunk, or environmental science fiction, or maybe it already has a name - either way, it is literature that deals directly with humanity's current methods of organizing itself, and what effect those methods will have on the planet and on itself. But it's not just that. Bacigalupi is also a ...more
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Specfic collection, with a tilt towards smart, scary near-future dystopias. People keep comparing him to Ted Chiang. It's accurate in that they're both really good short storyists, but Bacigalupi is doing fundamentally different things than Chiang does. These stories stress-test individual pieces of what we think of as our normal infrastructure – safe drinking water, reproduction, renewable food sources. A few selections, with links to the stories where available online. I recommend the whole co ...more
Nicholas Karpuk
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've avoided short story collections for quite a while. My general glib answer is that by the time I'm invested in the characters, the story is over.

After reading a few really quality short story collections lately, I've reevaluated that stance. My real problem is distrust.

You have to trust that the editor, or in this case the writer, have good taste and vision when they pick what's placed within the collection. When it's a single writer's stories this becomes much easier.

Investment comes quickl
After pawing through the first story in Pump Six, I imagined it would constitute serial penalty kicks for the grim master. Having just completed the final, titular story, I found Bacigalupi less-than-Lampard but still able to fill the net. Maybe I'm a poor keeper.

Shoving aside my aversions to both stories and matters that involve outer space, I was certainly moved by the philosophy of the collection as a whole. We perceive these threats in our trends our habits, our waste. We don't dare ponder
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Wow, talk about dark … this was bleak and, at times, disturbing read, but Mr Bacigalupi’s originality and genius cannot be denied. Although I didn’t like all of the stories in the collection, some are really uncomfortable to read, each one of them presents something worth thinking about. My favourites were The fluted girl and The Pasho.
While I acknowledge it’s not suited to everyone’s tastes, this collection it’s not an easy read but makes you think. Recommended to lovers of (very) dark fiction
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Warning: This collection of short stories is extremely dark and dystopian. Having a bad year? Think 2020 sucks? Well these stories are much much worse than this crazy year.
Having said that here are my favorites.

The Fluted Girl
The Calorie Man
The Tamarisk Hunter
Yellow Card Man
Pocketful Of Dharma

These are all absolutely brilliant!
Edwin Priest
The more I think about this book after finishing it, the more it keeps growing on me.

One of the real strengths of Pump Six and Other Stories is the ability Paolo Bacigalupi has to make me squirmy and uncomfortable and to create a collection of disturbing images that just keep lingering.

Some of this is from the darkly creative worlds that he has created here that are so familiar, but at the same time so distorted and wrong, and from his ability to deftly blend what seems normal with what is moral
Jo Ann
Normally short stories leave me rather cold. I guess it's because they always seem to have these dead-end endings. You know what I'm talking about, where the author doesn't seem to understand that just because it's a short, it doesn't deserve a proper conclusion. Bacigalupi's writing style is different, his stories have a way of leaving you feeling satisfied and disturbingly creeped-out at the same time.

This anthology is a collection of apocalyptic nightmares, except for two. We are shown futur
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was in the mood for another weird, dark sci-fi short story collection after I finished Axiomatic, and Pump Six fit the bill perfectly. Some of the stories were better than others, but they were all good, and had interesting twists. Like Axiomatic, a few of the stories are very dark, imaginative, gritty, and thought provoking. Themes of possession, revenge, cruel manipulation, loss, apathy, societal and cultural decline, all experienced from the viewpoint of people at the mercy of a harsh dysto ...more
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: think galactic
"The Calorie Man" is incredible. A world strangled by food monocultures and IP.
"Pop Squad": humans can live forever, can spend as long as they please perfecting their art, learning, becoming incredible athletes. But in exchange, having children is illegal. Stunning. (Can't help but think that the answer is space travel)
"Yellow Card Man" is the best of the bunch. Absolutely chilling tale of crushing poverty. Set in the same world as "The Calorie Man".

These stories make my heart hurt.
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
Stunning, distressing, sublime, depressing. All these words fail to describe the impact of the debut collection from Paolo Bacigalupi, Pump Six and Other Stories had on me. Each of the eleven stories in the collection could stand proud on its own, but together they make a hell of a collection.

Normally I would be taking this time to tell everyone the standout in the book, but all of these stories were equally wonderful, with this one caveat. Although an interesting and well written story, "Softer
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of some ten stories of varied quality (mostly high but 'softer' was terrible and should have been left out).

My two personal favorites were The Pop Squad, set in a world in which people are immortal (via a youth treatment known as rejoo) and therefore population must be strictly controlled. The narrator/protagonist is a member of the pop squad, a sort of police officer, whose job it is to enforce population control, i.e. kill children. My second favorite was The Pasho about
Sarah Sammis
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've wanted to read Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi since I read the titular story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008. I finally found a copy via Link+ and got it read over the holidays.

The book has ten stories, two of which are in the same world as The Wind-Up Girl, a book I bought over the holidays and plan to read this year. Those two stories are "The Calorie Man" and "Yellow Card Man."

Although not all of the stories are set in the same universe or timeline,
These are stories of despair, disappointment, and decay, which is fine, but in some stories it is laid on so thickly that all I could do was roll my eyes.

“Pocketful of Dharma” – a street urchin stumbles upon a stolen data cube holding the personality (or soul) of a prominent person.

“The Fluted Girl” – in a feudal society based on a star system, a new act tries for her freedom.

“The People of Sand and Slag” – people so removed from humanity that they can subsist on dirt encounter a dog.

“The Pasho”
Lisabet Sarai
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Paolo Bacigalupi's novel THE WIND-UP GIRL is one of the best science fiction books I've read, ever. Needless to say, I was eager to sample some of his shorter work. I was not disappointed. The stories in the PUMP SIX collection are vivid, surprising, and in many cases deeply troubling, as serious speculative fiction tends to be.

Some scifi authors imagine a single future which they revisit in all their tales. In contrast, Bacigalupi conjures a whole range of possible worlds, from the genetically
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Paolo Bacigalupi is an award-winning author of novels for adults and young people.

His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Grand

Other books in the series

The Windup Universe (1 books)
  • The Windup Girl

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