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METAtropolis: The Dawn of Uncivilization

(METAtropolis #1)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,802 ratings  ·  393 reviews
Five original tales set in a shared urban future--from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF

More than an anthology, Metatropolis is the brainchild of five of science fiction's hottest writers--Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder, and project editor John Scalzi---who combined their talents to build a new urban future, and then wrote their own
Audiobook, 10 pages
Published 2009 by Audible (first published October 20th 2008)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  2,802 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sci-Fi buffs, tree-huggers
I've observed that the way of anthologies seems to be that you win some and you lose some, and METAtropolis adheres to that view. In this unique anthology, all the stories are written in the same, post-oil world, where either you're green, you're stupid, or you're dead. Although all of the stories are connected via world, they have such a range of qualities that I feel that it is only really fair to review each independently of the others.

In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake was certainly
METAtropolis is a collection of short stories by several science fiction authors who decided that, rather than simply doing a collection of stories based on a specific theme, they would create a world together, and write stories within that world. I really liked this concept, as well as the fact that three of the audiobook narrators are actors from Battlestar Galactica, one of my favourite television shows.

John Scalzi is the editor of the book and introduces each story. He also wrote the only
Scott Templeman
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't really stomach the first and third writers (ironically the one labeled the "up and coming" one of the bunch), as they smugly injected their personal political philosophy in a relentless fashion into an apocalyptic world where such seemed needless, distracting, and blatantly self-satisfying. My favorite story was easily the 4th (the pig farming, written by the editor last), although the last was the most original and intriguing (truly demonstrating how technology would change cultures ...more
Kat  Hooper
Feb 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

METAtropolis: It’s not a utopia. It’s just maybe something that sucks a little less

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and it turns out that all those eco-freaks were right all along. We humans destroyed the planet and now we’ve got to live with the mess we’ve made. Many world governments, including the U.S., have been essentially dismantled and large, mostly independent and self-governing city-states have taken their place.

Under the direction of John
Metatropolis is an interesting book, to say the least: in addition to being a "shared world" anthology, featuring stories from five authors working in the same "collectively-constructed" future setting, it's also (as far as I know) unique in that it was released first as an audio book (reviewed below by Kat) and only subsequently as a traditional "paper" book, first as a limited edition by Subterranean Press, and now in a shiny new edition by Tor.

The concept of the book's shared world is equally
Milton Marshall
Aug 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Audiobook lovers, light reading enthusiasts, science fiction readers.
Recommended to Milton by: Audible
I got this collection of stories as promotional gift from Audible. Since it was free, I went into it interested in the premise of authors cooperating in building a future world centered around meta-cities, but not really expecting much from it. I was pleasantly surprised for the most part.

I will try to keep this review spoiler free.

The first story, really had a couple of interesting characters, but really played out more like a crude storyboard for a much longer novel. Many of the images I got
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a thought-provoking collection of short stories revolving around a shared future-world. The stories don't overlap much; nor do the primary factors in the stories, but that just means it manages to blow one's mind in a multitude of different ways.
There are 5 stories in the book; one (Scalzi's) is very fun, but not particularly futuristic. Two were serious mental trips into technologies that don't feel like they're as far away as the stories intimate, and their primary technologies
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biopunk, sci-fi
I haven't read many anthologies based on a relatively fully-fleshed concept decided on at the start, but I really thought the coherency of the stories made this a solid examination of future cities couched in a number of very solid and interesting tales from these various artists. We've got the bio-revolutions, MMORPG economies and espionage, and even a little bit of ethical examinations. It is very much in tune with the modern speculations in speculative fiction and is lovely to behold. I've ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book was conceived as a joint project between five authors, in which they co-created the world in which their stories would be set, but then took their stories in very different directions. They're all concerned with the evolution of cities and breakdown of our current capitalistic, consumption-based economy. Not quite post-apocalyptic, nevertheless some of the stories have a distinct survivalist feel to them, and they are all creative and thought-provoking.

I liked how the stories wound
Cory Hughart
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting to read about a "post-apocalyptic" future that isn't all negative. The focus on green communities seemed a bit forced at first, but I began to understand it as a reaction to whatever brought the world-as-we-know-it down. The only critique I have, which is more of a regret, is that, like so many other short stories, many of these feel like chopped-off segments of a longer story. Most of these end abruptly without any proper resolution; some even seem to cut out large chunks of the ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got this audiobook a few years ago when it was free on Audible to introduce this series. I've just gotten around to listening to it.
The first two stories are the most intensely boring stories I have ever forced myself to finish. I fell asleep listening to both.
The third starts off ok and then goes absolutely nowhere.
I didn't finish the fifth, as it was boring and I was fed up.
Story number four, by John Scalzi, was the only thing that was worth reading in this collection. It actually made me
Jan 08, 2014 rated it liked it
METAtropolis is a collection of short stories all taking place in the same shifting world. A future that in some ways seems all too plausible, our planet ravaged by our destructive culture, rampant poverty, mansions and skyscrapers left empty, but guarded and corporations struggle against green revolutions.

The audio version had a lot of talent, actors from Battlestar Galatica read each story. That said it takes a bit more than being an actor to do good voice work. So, the readers were a bit hit
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was not really my cup of tea. I suspect reading it several more times would make it more interesting to me, and that may happen. The narration in the first story was incredibly distracting. I am an Oregon native and it was really off putting to hear our local place names butchered by someone who did no research at all. There also wasn’t enough connection between the stories to make this a cohesive book.
Victor Carson
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I am not a frequent reader of futuristic fiction but a cooperative venture of five authors, writing five separate stories, linked by a shared vision of the future of several major cities, induced me to read METAtropolis. Also, I was looking for an audio-book to balance my other, Kindle-based, reading, and I recognized several of the professional narrators engaged for this project. Some of the five stories appealed to me very much, others not quite as much. All were thought-provoking while still ...more
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles Owen
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a set of five stories meant to share a common theme of future cities. Of the stores, only the Scalzi story is very good. The rest are ponderous and preachy. I was often quite bored. The book reads like a political manifesto about how evil corporations are and how great it would be if everyone just shared everything.

Many have commented on the poor quality of the stories, but I've not seen many comments about the bad science in the book and many other ideas that are just not very sound.
Andreea Daia
The stories of this anthology are rather heterogeneous in feel and content, though located in the same geographical area, which give them a common playground.

In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake is in my opinion the second best in the collection and it is by far the most character-driven story, or at least as much as one can accomplish this task in the limited space of a novella. Tyger Tyger, the main character, has almost a mystical glow about him. Any moment, you expect him to do something
Jared Millet
Dystopia’s been quite the rage lately, what with the overall feeling that civilization’s about to slide into an energy-starved, polluted, underfed apocalypse (see: the works of Paulo Bacigalupi), but science fiction isn’t just about providing dire warnings; part of its job is also to propose hypothetical solutions.

Metatropolis reads as a semi-hopeful rebuttal to The Windup Girl. The authors admit that yes, human civilization cannot and will not survive indefinitely in its present form (it never
I picked up Metatropolis as a freebie from Audible. Who can say no to free? The collection contains 5 short stories all based in a shared universe that was a collaboration of the authors.

The world itself was interesting. The world takes on a city-state like appearance and is a bit more low-tech in the sense that the technology and power that exists isn't as readily available as it is today. There are also some environmentalist undertones with vertical farming taking a front row spot in the
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first couple of stories in this anthology started off rather slowly, but by the time that Elizabeth Bear’s story came around, I was really into it.

The anthology does get rather preachy on the ecological propaganda at times (Bear’s story being the most preachy of the set), but that makes sense because all but one of the stories are focused on someone from within a society attempting to recruit an individual from without the society, and thus having to convert the prospective citizen to their
Jason Hart
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible, audiobooks
This collection of five short stories was more hits than misses for me. I was drawn in after listening to the Scalzi story for free through the Audible app. The Scalzi story was entertaining and hinted enough about the world they created to lead me to listen to the rest. I listened to the Audible version. With a different narrator for each story, I was pleased with the performances.

The first, In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake, had a compelling environment and set up the world well but I
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
This is a collection of five long short stories nominally themed around new cities, but I'd put more emphasis on the "Dawn of Uncivilization" subtitle than the main theme. For various not-quite-specified reasons--but clearly including massive environmental stresses--the state is no longer powerful, western civilization doesn't work, and people huddle in megacities trying to get by one way or another.

The first story by Jay Lake I basically didn't understand the point of--presumably out of boredom
Michael Flanagan
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not one to normally read Anthologies I found myself strangely attracted to this collection of stories. The authors have delivered five great tales all based in a world they all had a hand in making. This book is very much a concept driven book in which the authors clearly articulate their goal and theme of the book. Each story builds on and around the others taking the reader on a tour of this new world.

The stories in this book revolve around a future society. It is a society where whole cities
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popcorn
Not nearly as pretentious as the name implies. This is a collection of short stories imagining the cities of the future. The authors collaborated on a "shared universe," and then wrote individual stories reflecting aspects of the universe. The first story is self-serious and predictably preachy-- evil capitalism, global warming, failure of representative government, etc. It's uphill from there, however. We get less Self-Destructive-Tendencies-of-this-Depraved-Species hogwash and more objective ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hard-copy
A handful of authors I generally think highly of, read by narrators I mostly think highly of - must be great, right?

Yeah, it just didn't work for me. The setting was an interesting concept, the combined world they were writing in, the overall idea was enjoyable. However, the stories were so varied and disjointed that they did not feel like a cohesive package, they did not feel like they were even writing about the same setting at times. Some varied so differently in technology and tone - one
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
An exercise in world building, where five authors attempt to create a shared setting, that doesn't quite feel like it worked out. The stories all have the same background, with an Earth that seems to have suffered just about every collapse we may currently be worried about (such as economic and ecological). But it's still so broadly undefined, that it doesn't feel like the stories share the same world at all. Okay, maybe we're looking at various approaches to trying to adapt to or recover from ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
This collection seems to have been written mostly as an intellectual exercise in world building than anything else, and it bears the scars of that. The stories tend to be exceedingly exposition-heavy and rarely connected, for me, on a more human level. I also find that all story collections are somewhat uneven, but this, despite the small number of discrete stories, had more misses than hits. I did greatly enjoy Scalzi's piece, which seemed to be the one story that was more about the character ...more
Kim Pallister
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this an anthology of five novellas about cities of the future. The authors collaborated some during it's creation, so they share common elements to the background and setting, but are each very unique.

As well as being fun, compelling stories (the last one in particular is a mind-blower), they each present some really intriguing bits of futurism, revolving around sustainable cities, crowd-sourcing, wisdom of the crowds, distributed networks, and so much more. With five authors
Kohl Gill
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sci-fi, environmentalism, sustainability fans
Recommended to Kohl by: MacBreak Weekly
Shelves: listened, audible
METAtropolis is an example of what sci-fi authors do best: show us what's achievable, what's possible, and motivate us to make that future real. My favorite chapters were the first - In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake (read by Michael Hogan) - and fifth - To Hie from Far Cilenia by Karl Schroeder (read by Stefan Rudnicki) - though the fourth - Utere Nihil... by John Scalzi (read by Alessandro Juliani) - was campy and amusing. has the first chapter as a free download, so you can
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these short stories. The concept behind them is very interesting and well presented through the author's creations. My mind was pushed to thinking about the sense of community we enjoy and how fragile it is. The last story was especially mind-blowing as it explores the sense of community online. Is it possible to have a city-state among our own, with the citizens all linked online? In the age of Google Glass, I think the answer is quickly becoming, "yes". I am looking forward to ...more
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John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)

Other books in the series

METAtropolis (10 books)
  • METAtropolis: Cascadia
  • METAtropolis: Green Space
  • METAtropolis: The Wings We Dare Aspire
  • METAtropolis Free Story: 'In the Forests of the Night'
  • A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves: A METAtropolis Story
  • Tensegrity (A METAtropolis Story)
  • Byways (A METAtropolis Story)
  • Water to Wine: A METAtropolis Story
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