Karlo's Reviews > METAtropolis: The Dawn of Uncivilization

METAtropolis by John Scalzi
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's review
May 20, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: own
Read in September, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Occasionally you get lucky and a book you read causes you to positively thrum with energy; you may even look at things differently when you put the book down. I'm not saying world or life changing, but perhaps a momentary wobble in perspective or thinking. It left me with a lopsided smirk/grin and itchy arms. This book did that for me; but it kinda snuck/sneaked up on me.

Lake starts it off, and I was pleasantly surprised by his story. I didn't quite get if he was doing a run-and-gun Merc-style story or something Techno-nomadic. He messed me up for a while in his use of names (I actually processed two versions of the story in parallel; one with humans, one with animals [echoes of Simak's City running in my mind:]). The image of a town that is functionally a forest; not Robin Hood or Swiss Family Robinson, but really with low to zero footprint was a radical concept. By the time it finished, I ended up with a religious/spiritual residue. Lake's use of cooking and food in a few scene's was very evocative. This was my favourite story.

Buckell's story was more grounded in more familiar tropes; a little cyberpunk filtered through a recessionary US lens; a little anarchistic feel somewhere between Hakim Bey's TAZ and Doctorow's Little Brother. I really didn't see the Caribbean influence I expect from him, which was interesting. Watching HBO's Hung (guilty, guilty) also provided additional context for a city in decline. The re-purposed buildings were nicely handled, and the manner in which the protests were coordinated and staged was very new to me. Wonderful.

Bear's story; complementary as it was to Buckell, had a wonderful cadence to it's story. The manner in which she leads us and the POV character through the rondel of the story was throughly engaging, allowing me to focus my wonder on the world Bear revealed.

Scalzi's story was the easiest to digest, with his voice most like that of a Heinlein juvenile. I found it easy to follow, and the plot was the easiest to predict. It was my least favourite story, but that might be to due to my having reached a saturation point with regards to his style.

Schroeder; my neighbourhood author (he lives about 10 mins from me) leaves me with more questions than answers. I, like the characters, feel that I've been led to a boundary of understanding that I cannot cross. I appreciate that he makes me question my concepts / structures by the end of his story, and also reminds me that sometimes in every model of perception, some things are dangerous.

Great job folks!

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