Book Review: Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

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There are some books (and stories) that you want to like… but can’t. Unfortunately, Pump Six and Other Stories, this collection of Mr. Bacigalupi’s work falls squarely in that category for me. These stories are lush – many of them set in the same near-future dystopian world. There are a lot of good things in these stories as well. The storytelling is lush and skillful. The characters are NOT the run-of-the-mill white, middle-class Americans you so often end up seeing… but are still so convincingly written that you empathize with them anyway. The future dystopia is clearly and thoughtfully constructed without being the same old same old with a fresh coat of paint.

The problem I had is that many of the stories were… depressing. Not disturbing. I’m okay with disturbing. Instead, many of the stories were just sad. It often seemed as though a patina of hopelessness was washed over the pages. And I don’t do sad very well, even though I recognize the skill both in the worldbuilding and writing itself.

As it stands, the skill on display made this collection worth reading, even if I didn’t actually *like* it. But if depressing plots don’t bother you, then Mr. Bacigalupi’s writing in this collection will be a treat, and you should snag it ASAP.

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