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METAtropolis by John Scalzi
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METAtropolis

by John Scalzi (Editor)

Other authors: Elizabeth Bear (Contributor), Tobias Buckell (Contributor), Jay Lake (Contributor), John Scalzi (Contributor), Karl Schroeder (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: METAtropolis (1)

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It??s not a utopia. Itƒ??s just maybe something that sucks a little less.

Itƒ??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 weƒ??ve got to live with the mess weƒ??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 Scalzi, the story authors ƒ?? Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Read More:
http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/metatropolis-2/ ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
It??s not a utopia. Itƒ??s just maybe something that sucks a little less.

Itƒ??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 weƒ??ve got to live with the mess weƒ??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 Scalzi, the story authors ƒ?? Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/metatropolis-2/ ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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 [a:John Scalzi|4763|John Scalzi|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1236228326p2/4763.jpg], the story authors — [a:Jay Lake|234088|Jay Lake|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1245101039p2/234088.jpg], [a:Tobias Buckell|107891|Tobias S. Buckell|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg], [a:Elizabeth Bear|128570|Sarah Monette|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg], [a:Karl Schroeder|19169|Karl Schroeder|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg], and Scalzi himself — got together to map out their new post-apocalyptic world and their goals for METAtropolis. (Scalzi gives insight into some of this during the introductions to each story in the audiobook version.) Thus, though the stories are set in different locales and use different characters, the history and rules are the same, and they sometimes even reference each other. This sounds like a terrific idea, and indeed the focus on collaboration is evident. I liked that some concepts, such as “turking”, are introduced and explained in one story, then used again in a later one.

So what about the stories?

“In the Forests of the Night” by Jay Lake: After the collapse of the United States government, The Cascadian Independence Project is finally thriving and is populated by Silicon Valley techies who are more interested in being green than in venture capitalism. They live in holes in the ground, develop new technologies, and just want to be left alone to live together cooperatively. Their lives are disrupted when a messiah figure shows up.

I love Jay Lake’s style — character-driven, detailed, lush — and I enjoyed the setting of Cascadia — the swath of rich forest land in the Pacific Northwest. But this story didn’t hold together for me. The inclusion of the messiah figure was confusing and had no relation to the rest of the stories. Also, since a lot of this new world’s background (e.g., oil crunch, resource drain, etc.) was provided in this story, there’s quite a lot of exposition (about how we humans have destroyed the world) to suffer through. This got old pretty quickly because the green anti-capitalism messages were just too heavy-handed. However, the audio production of this story was excellent and Michael Hogan is a terrific reader.

Tobias Buckell’s story, “Stochasti-City,” set in Detroit, was much better. At least there was a coherent story and an interesting main character here. Reginald is just looking out for himself, but when he takes a risky high-paying turking job, he gets involved with some anti-automobile eco-terrorists. I enjoyed this character and some of the ideas that Buckell presents, though all of the anti-whatever themes were starting to grate. Again, another nice reading, this one by Scott Brick.

Elizabeth Bear’s “The Red in the Sky is Our Blood” is also set in Detroit and complements Buckell’s story. I think this story was supposed to be hopeful, as it imagined a way that like-minded people might live and work together for their common good, but I just found it bleak and depressing. In Elizabeth Bear’s character’s own words: “It’s not a utopia. It’s just maybe something that sucks a little less.” This story was read by Kandyse McClure who does a good job.

John Scalzi tells a light-hearted story that, for the first time in this collection, was entertaining in its own right. That is, its plot and characters weren’t over-shadowed by the message. Benjy, who lives in New St. Louis, has waited until the last minute to get his job and is in danger of being exiled. The city government assigns jobs, but because Benjy is a slacker and didn’t do so well on his aptitude tests, he gets stuck doing the worst job in the city. The reader, Alessandro Guiliani, had Benjy down perfectly and “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis” was very funny. I laughed aloud often and finally felt like I wasn’t wasting my time with METAtropolis.

Stefan Rudnicki, who I completely adore, read Karl Schroeder’s “To Hie from Far Celenia,” but that’s not the only reason I liked it. Here we learn that people of post-apocalyptic Earth are starting to deal with life by retreating into virtual worlds that have their own economies and constantly shifting world maps. Some people do this for fun (perhaps they never got over the steampunk fad and they still want to wear paisley and pocket watches, for example) and some do it for other reasons… I enjoyed the world-building in this story and it stretched my brain more than the previous tales did. Also, the future evolution we experience in this story is the one that seems most likely to me, and there were a few ideas that truly fascinated me, such as the autistic Cyranoid.

All in all, I loved the premise of METAtropolis, the authors did a great job with their collaboration, and the production, by Brilliance Audio, was excellent. However, I only truly enjoyed half of the collection because, until John Scalzi’s story, I just got tired of reading about climate change, zero footprint, carbon load, globalization, resource drains, big-capital, etc. These anti-everything messages aren’t new and interesting ideas anymore, and they were just too heavy-handed for greedy humans like me.

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Note: made it through 2.5 out of 6 chapters / 3.25 hours out of 9 hours and 12 minutes of audiobook

This book was so bad, it actually made me create my first ever Did Not Finish (DNF) shelf because I put hours into giving it a chance (a lot of time for an audiobook), and it still didn't get better. I *rarely* don't finish a book, so for me to put this down says a lot, and I couldn't let it pass without saying why.

Other reviewers have said the collection improves after the first short story. The first short story manages to be incredibly boring, even while being about an anarchist group living in the forest near Seattle. There fails to be any connection with any of the characters. The main character, Tyger Tyger, is supposed to be a big influential guy in the history of the place, but it is never clear why. There's nothing really charismatic about him. The setting could be interesting, but they mostly talk about not using light or fire to prevent being detected instead of the more interesting aspects of how an anarchist society would run. Also, the incredibly clunky exposition technique of quoting extensively from fake texts is used.

Since it's a short story collection, though, I persisted. Other reviewers stated the first short story is the worst. The second continues to be boring, in spite of the setting of a post-apocalyptic Detroit. How do you make a post-apocalyptic Detroit boring? It seems impossible, but it apparently isn't.

I will say, though, that the audiobook narrators I listened to both did a lovely job with the material they had to work with. They're the only reason I kept going as long as I did.

An audiobook needs to be engaging. A post-apocalyptic society needs rich characters to drive the plot. This book had neither for me. ( )
  gaialover | Sep 26, 2013 |
Gives you several views of a possible future. Things to think about! ( )
  Harrod | Aug 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
But the way you know these urban settings have succeeded in their worldbuilding task is, they provide a backdrop for some cracking city adventures. Scalzi and Buckell, in particular, keep you guessing about where their stories are going and provide fun yarns where you root for their underdog protagonists. These feel like cities where anything can happen, from getting your skull cracked to discovering your life purpose. And most important of all, when I was done reading about this future dys/utopia, I wanted to spend a lot more time there.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Scalzi, JohnEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckell, TobiasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lake, JayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scalzi, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schroeder, KarlContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogan, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juliani, AlessandroNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McClure, KandyseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rudnicki, StefanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Welcome to a world where big cities are dying, dead - or transformed into technological megastructures. Where once-thriving suburbs are now treacherous Wilds. Where those who live for technology battle those who would die rather than embrace it. It is a world of zero-footprint cities, virtual nations, and armed camps of eco-survivalists.

Welcome to the dawn of uncivilization.

METAtropolis is an intelligent and stunning creation of five of today's cutting-edge science-fiction writers: 2008 Hugo Award winners John Scalzi and Elizabeth Bear; Campbell Award winner Jay Lake; plus fan favorites Tobias Buckell and Karl Schroeder. Together they set the ground rules and developed the parameters of this "shared universe", then wrote five original novellas - all linked, but each a separate tale.

Bringing this audiobook to life is a dream team of performers: Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan ("Saul Tigh"); Alessandro Juliani ("Felix Gaeta"); and Kandyse McClure ("Anastasia 'Dee' Dualla"); plus legendary audiobook narrators Scott Brick (Dune) and Stefan Rudnicki (Ender's Game).

John Scalzi, who served as Project Editor, introduces each story, offering insight into how the METAtropolis team created this unique project exclusively for digital audio.

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"...METAtropolis is the brainchild of five of science fiction's hottest writers...who combined their talents to build a new urban future and then wrote their own stories in this collectively-constructed world. The results are individual glimpses of a shared vision..."--dust cover flap.… (more)

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