Metatropolis

Metatropolis - Scott Brick, John Scalzi,  Jay Lake,  Tobias Buckell,  Elizabeth Bear,  Karl Schroeder,  Michael Hogan,  Kandyse McClure,  Alessandro Juliani,  Stefan Rudnicki METAtropolis is a collection of short stories by several science fiction authors who decided that, rather than simply doing a collection of stories based on a specific theme, they would create a world together, and write stories within that world. I really liked this concept, as well as the fact that three of the audiobook narrators are actors from Battlestar Galactica, one of my favourite television shows.

John Scalzi is the editor of the book and introduces each story. He also wrote the only short story within the book that I truly enjoyed. His story, wonderfully narrated by Alessandro Juliani, employed Scalzi’s usual sense of humour and, as he explains, fills the gap in the METAtropolis left by the other authors because it is a story about people who actually live reasonably happily within the major cities. The story somewhat addresses something that really bothered me when I started reading this. I realized that I couldn’t recall any depiction of humanity’s future that doesn’t feature a dystopia where our flaws and hubris have destroyed everything, or a utopia that is too inhuman to be true and must be destroyed. METAtropolis made me realize just how little we think of humanity and our future.

METAtropolis is a typical world where the less fortunate and the disillusioned live outside the gated communities of the rich, thinking up ways to bring anarchy to the lives of the better off. There is no shortage of lecturing the reader in various ways over how human nature has led to this current state of affairs and, outside of Scalzi’s story, we get to be privy to the greed and desperation of not-quite starving people who seek to survive and to balance the scales through overzealous protests.

As I said, I only found Scalzi’s entry to be interesting, with memorable characters and events. As his story takes place within the same world, he didn’t neglect the anarchists in his account, but he did turn their beliefs upside down a bit by not merely making them the downtrodden who must obviously be good in comparison to the rich people who must obviously be bad because of their blissful ignorance.

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