Where do I even begin to describe the heights of my enthusiasm for Paolo Bacigalupi and his work? It turns out that not only is he a fantastic guy, full of wit and intelligence, but those qualities also translate to his writing. Well, the intelligence does at the very least. While seldom funny, his books are unnervingly astute when describing the direction we, as a people, are going, as well as what makes us at our core human.
Bacigalupi’s young adult book, Ship Breaker, took me to a place so horrifying and raw that it could only be rooted in truth. The story, which follows a boy named Nailer, sucked me into a world of a grimy, poverty stricken, future. And while that future was bleak and alien it was also familiar, which was why it was able to touch me the way it did. Chronicling the plight of a poor boy that makes his living stripping wires out of the air vents of huge beached ships could have been dull. Or worse, unbelievable. But I never doubted the world Nailer lived in, nor his motivations. When the book becomes part adventure and part an exploration of family and friendship I found myself unable to pull myself away. It is rare that I devour a book as swiftly as I did this one.
Bacigalupi’s debut novel, The Windup Girl, is no less stunning. While I found the book taking a while to get moving, it was easy to stay on board just to find out more about the world being revealed. As well conceived and insightful as Gibson was when he introduced us to the Sprawl back in the 80s, and as thought provoking as Dick was when he caused us to examine our humanity through Replicants. This is a book that forges ahead into a new direction, indicative of our current times. Critics are calling it Biopunk. I’m calling it terrifying and brilliant. I would tell you what the book is about, but part of the beauty of the book is figuring that out for yourself.
So here it is in short: If you like science fiction, read these books. If you want to examine where we might be heading, read these books. If you want to think about the world we live in, and what makes us human, read these books. If you want to look at the world in a different way, read these books. And heck, if you just want to get lost in a good, well written book, read these books. I’m going to follow my own advice and pick up a copy of his short story anthology, Pump 6, next time I’m at work.
Old Firehouse Books currently has signed copies of all of Paolo Bacigalupi’s books. Get your copy before they are gone.