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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pump 6 out of 8 Marks, 9 Aug 2008
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A very good collection of science fiction (though everything about the cover and inside jacket disguises the genre) short stories, well worth giving a go. The stories can be pretty dark and bitter sweet but always entertaining. Yellow Card Man about a down and out refugee is particularly good but the thrilling and melancholic post-cyberpunk The People of Sand and Slag depicting a weird and scary posthuman society is my favourite.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian Tales, 24 Jan 2010
M. P. Garde (Warley, West Midlands United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is Paolo Bacigalupi's first book and it is one of the most memeorable short story collections that I can recall reading for many a year. Many of the stories are set in a dystopian future, a favourite venue for many of the classics of science fiction. Stories such as, The Fluted Girl,The People of Slag and Sand, Pop Squad stay in the mind long afterwards. Although the stories take place in a bleak future this does not mean thay all end in a grim, negative way. Many of them have a degree of hope and optimism mixed in. I have since read two other books by this guy,The Windup Girl, and Ship Breaker and if you like your stories at longer lenngth, then I can highly recommend these as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Master of Dystopian Visions..., 26 May 2013
This review is from: Pump Six and Other Stories SC (Paperback)
Having read the fantastic novel The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi about a world deformed by the worst examples of mankind without any scruples, I was very intrigued.
So I started to read this perfect collection of dystopian short-stories - a future not too far away from our yet disastrous present...
And I found 10 short stories, and everyone of them was perfect!
They cover all the - often awfull - situations the future will maybe bring to the human beings, the animals which are left and the plants, all three often enormously deformed. First planned to bring more benefits for mankind, simplifications to make the "life more comfortable" - ending with gentically altered organisms, monstrous deformations and a life worse even than Your worst nightmares...

In a "Pocketful of Dharma" a small beggar-boy finds the incarnation of the Dalai Lama - in a data cube. Will he and his bounty survive the hunt that's in act?

"The Fluted Girl": A young girl - a special construct for "giving pleasure" - is permanently abused by her mistress. But there may be a change in her life...

"The People of Sand and Slag" - three friends - find an almost extinct species: a dog! And what shall they do with this species?

In "The Pasho") a young man of learning and enlightenment returns from the big, evolved city to his almost stone-age village in a desert. His grandfather, an old warrior with ideas for a new war will have some great surprise in the end...

"The Calorie Man" is incorporated into the almost totally destroyed world of his multi-award winning novel The Windup Girl, "generipping" and "biodeforming" biotech firms have altered the world's food supply by making the seeds of the nourishing plants infertile. But not everybody is willing to accept this facts, and ...

In "The Tamarisk Hunter" during an enormous dry period named "Big Daddy Drought" in Colorado Lolo gets payed with water bonuses for distructing the water-sucking tamarisks. He thought to have layed a sure basis for his and his wife's future, but...

The "Pop Squad" is hunting for mothers and children, because in our Brave New World death has been defeated and breeding is now illegal. This is the most disturbing of all the stories - a real nightmare of egoism of a large majority against a - literally - dying minority. To make You cry...

In "Yellow Card Man" a once wealthy old Chinese man who now lives on the streets of a Bangkok in the "Windup Girl World" struggles for surviving day by day. Full of facts about the life in the "Big Mango" of a not so far future and with a surprising end. You all must read that book!

In "Softer" a man killes his wife and has a new perception of the world around him in his new-found freedom. The only story which isn't set in some sort of dystopia, but can happen all the time all around our globe. And what happens here is highly disturbing!

"Pump Six": Travis, who works for the the city of New York's sewage plant, keeps literally the toilets running. But the ignorance of the generations before him sees the world regress more and more, faster and faster back into Stone Age where sooner or later only "Trogs" will survive...

Every story in this fantastic collection is highly disturbing - a "Memorial" of the future which is partially yet around us.
Only that the whole world - except a few, sadly small groups of more than desperate human beings - seems not to notice the state of our Globe, the world we live on. And it's getting worse every year, month, days - and bringing children into this "Brave New World" with a more than uncertain future is an almost disturbing act.

Those stories by Paolo Bacigalupi should be read in every school on this yet comdemned planet, because they are excellently written and unforgettable. The world needs more of this kind of more than pessimistic dystopian literature - only ONE BIG question raises itself: WHO will read them and WHO will take them really seriously???
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5.0 out of 5 stars GRIM, but beautifully written, thought provoking, 16 July 2014
This review is from: Pump Six and Other Stories SC (Paperback)
This book can be summarized in one word: GRIM! But despite of that, it is beautifully written and thought provoking. It is not a set of stories to be read before you go to sleep.

One of my favorite stories in the book is "The People of Sand and Slag". This is a short story (25 pages or so), which can be read here legally:

Two other short stories from the same book can be downloaded here:
These stories play in the same world as the novel "The Windup Girl". Especially the latter story is very grim, even more so than the novel "The Windup Girl".

If you really like these freely avaialble stories, then you can buy the book to get more of them. I really recommend them. What strikes me most of his dystopian futures is that they are so close to us. These dystopias can easily come from our world in which we live now, they are not far future abstract worlds which stand on their own, but they are natural extensions of our own society in which things go terribly wrong.

The most shocking story of the book is "Pop Squad", this work really shook me up and it only needed appr. 20 pages to do so! It is terryfying, haunting, but it can in no way be compared to a horror story. That makes it the most disturbing!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good tales that engage, 29 Jun 2012
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pump Six and Other Stories SC (Paperback)
This authors middle name must be 'detail' because he effortlessly covers all the elements of scene setting. I felt the steppes and the mud villages of the Dry Basin People, or the East Asian street economy around the base of an exclusive self organising building. Without recognising what was happening I felt empathy with the characters. Even the less likeable ones. Some reviewers have mentioned cyberpunk, but i did not feel that to be the case. Some stories do deal with enhanced humanity and have a Blade Runner feel. But others, such as The Pasho, felt like a very updated Harry Harrison with wild stepped dwellers confronting the reality of a technological future. Good job.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Florid eeriness compounds dark details, 16 Jan 2012
2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pump Six and Other Stories SC (Paperback)
I've previously read Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl and was pretty floored by the amount of setting detail. Bacigalupi carries on with this talent in his short stories, where detail is inlaid into every story: detail about a characters meticulous action, the refinements of a futuristic city, or the superfluous catalog numbers found in an instruction manual. Compound this talent for detail with the eeriness of his dark visions and you'll find that this collection has a different feeling to it that other collection out there... Pump Six is even darker than the apocalyptic collection in Wastelands. Full marks for this collection! I hope to see more fiction being produced about the ever-so diverse city of Bangkok!

Pocketful of Dharma (1999) - 4/5 - Beggar Boy in Chengdu, China steals a pair of expensive specs from a dead man and is given a blue data cube by the killers so he can deliver it. Thinking the cube has value, the takes it to the same shady buyer who is just as interested as the beggar as to what the data cube holds and why people are willing to kill for it. 24 pages

The Fluted Girl (2003) - 3/5 - The fragile figure of a servant stows herself above the manor's pantry, keeping away from the fief and her up-coming dinner party, where she and her sister will be the artistic spectacle. With her male friend Steven already being served as sweetmeats, will she use Steven's last gift as an escape from her indentured life? 23 pages

The People of Sand and Slag (2004) - 5/5 - Heavily modified truly omnivorous humans in an animal-less world discover a dog amidst their chemical wasteland and adopt it as their own after debating on whether or not to just eat the nuisance. 19 pages

The Pasho (2004) - 4/5 - A cross-cultural monk on his hometown retreat clashes with his grassroots grandfather of Jai heritage. Having received his monastic training in Kali, the religious/cultural/geographic neighbor, his grandfather resents his son's customs, his family partaking in Kali traditions, and the village slowly becoming more Kali-like. 24 pages

The Calorie Man (2005) - 3/5 - An Indian migrant ekes out a living upon the Mississippi river, just south of the fertile lands where the mega-corporations hold a monopoly on patented strains of grain which feed the world. A mission to retrieve a genehacker is undertaken in order to escape the tragic calorie/joule cycle. 29 pages

The Tamarisk Hunter (2006) - 4/5 - Lolo uproots water-absorbing plants on a per-plant basis for the Californian government but his secret is that he plants the same trees he uproots. Despite the water stipend, he thinks his subterfuge has gone unnoticed until some Guardis show up at his camp. 13 pages

Pop Squad (2006) - 5/5 - Cop shoots three kids point blank in the face and is left with the lingering reminder of a stuffed dinosaur, which he sues to track down the "collectibles" store. Being 150 years old with rejuvenation, I guess the process doesn't make the heart any softer but it does harden one's logic circuits. 25 pages

Yellow Card Man (2006) - 5/5 - Tranh was once a corporate fatcat but has since been dethroned and now merely survives on the streets of Bangkok, where work and food are hard to come by. When confronted by the riches and gluttony of a man once under him employment, Tranh uses the loathing as a stepping stone to recapturing success. 33 pages

Softer (2007) - 5/5 - Johnathon is experiencing a certain euphoria in finally knowing that he has found freedom in knowing how his future will unfold. Unfortunately, this future doesn't include his wife Pia, who he just asphyxiated with a pillow and now bathes with her in the bubble bath. 12 pages

Pump Six (2008) - 4/5 - The literate sewer technician is being awoken by his idiotic partner who says that the pumps are failing. They discover that the pumps are over a century old, that the maintenance logs have been ignored, and that the manufacturer has ceased to exist. Amid fornicating "trogs" and frolicking students, Max goes to the university in search of a real engineer. 31 pages
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Gems, 10 Mar 2013
This review is from: Pump Six and Other Stories SC (Paperback)
(3 ½ stars)

When you're trying to review a collection of stories you naturally tend to look for themes or similarities. This is perhaps unfair to some of the individual stories but I'm going to do it anyway because otherwise I need to review each story in turn and I don't have the time or the heart for that.

I suppose there are two things that stand out for me that came through in nearly all the stories. The first is that Bacigalupi's style veers toward a lot of description of the background details. This isn't something I always enjoy but I know that for some it puts you right there in that world and makes it feel rich and complete. The second is that the stories are almost all kind of morality tales. They take a trend that's occurring in our current time and extrapolate it into a possible future and show the ill effects this might have, whether that's patented GM crops in The Calorie Man or global warming's effect on water conservation with The Tamarisk Hunter. Again, potentially this isn't something I will always enjoy because it can veer toward preachy but I think it most cases it avoided being too directly that.

My favourites were Pump Six - the tale of a society in decline where no-one is any longer interested in the technology that supports their lifestyle, Pop Squad - the story of a future where the trade-off for constant re-juvenation is enforced infertility, The Fluted Girl - about body modification gone mad, and The People of Sand and Slag - about the effects of physical invulnerability.
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Pump Six and Other Stories SC
Pump Six and Other Stories SC by Paolo Bacigalupi (Paperback - 12 Oct 2010)
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