Saturday, May 02, 2009

Paolo Bacigalupi

At Readercon last year I had the pleasure of being on a panel with Paolo Bacigalupi. A little later I had a signing session, which basically means I sat at a table with a pen in my hand, smiling awkwardly as people walked by. Paolo was good enough to sit down and hang out, and I've remembered that conversation since.

It was terrific in that he's a lot of fun to talk to, humorous and smart and easy going. What's strange about this is that he pretty much spent the entire time explaining the horrible state of the environment, the futility of the measures we're taking (or not) at the moment, and generally making me very scared of all things plastic. This guy knows way too much about way too much. Odd that he smiles so often... I do take a measure of hope from the fact that he's a father, so he hasn't completely given up.

He's a hell of a writer, too. His collection, Pump Six and Other Stories is terrific, even if it's not exactly light reading. Here's what Publishers Weekly said in a starred review:

Bacigalupi's stellar first collection of 10 stories displays the astute social commentary and consciousness-altering power of the very best short form science fiction. The Hugo-nominated The Calorie Man explores a post–fossil fuel future where genetically modified crops both feed and power the world, and greedy megacorporations hold the fates of millions in their hands. The People of Sand and Slag envisions a future Earth as a contaminated wasteland inhabited by virtually indestructible post-humans who consume stone and swim in petroleum oceans. The Tamarisk Hunter deals with the effects of global warming on water rights in the Southwest, while the title story, original to this volume, follows a New York sewage treatment worker who struggles to repair his antiquated equipment as the city's inhabitants succumb to the brain-damaging effects of industrial pollutants. Deeply thought provoking, Bacigalupi's collected visions of the future are equal parts cautionary tale, social and political commentary and poignantly poetic, revelatory prose.

Nice. I mention him now because he's back in the award game again. His story, "The Gambler" is nominated for a Hugo in the Novelette category. You can read it over at the Pyr Website. He's up against some folks I really like, so it's darn hard to say who I want to win. But still, today I'm a Paolo mood, hence this post.

I also "enjoyed" reading a recent Interview he did with EcoGeek. Go take a look. (Oh, and I should note, as Paolo did on his blog, that the interview got reposted at io9. Quite a few people went ballistic there.)

Here's another one from last year, at Omnivoracious.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Child of Albion said...

This is the first that I've heard of Paolo Bacigalupi. Thanks, David, for the information.

7:47 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

You're very welcome. Glad he sounds interesting to you. I think he occupies unique territory in sci-fi, and I'm glad he's got a strong personality to back up his beliefs/concerns. It's not even that it matters if you agree with him on everything. At the very least he makes you think, and that's a good thing.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

I remember that panel very well - you both were compelling speakers and talked about self-doubt as a writer in a way that made the topic accessible to all fields, not just writing.

Thanks for the highlight on his work and to both of you for being willing to share your love of writing and the ups and downs of commitment to your craft with others.

3:51 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Thanks, Teri!

3:58 PM  

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