Tag Archives: biopunk

Michael Hogan, narrating METAtropolis

METAtropolis by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, & Karl Schroeder

In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake

METAtropolisI truly love this book.  I’ve listened to it twice and read it once and every time I discover something new that I didn’t take notice of before.

And I love it when two concepts coincide between different METAtropolisbooks I read.  In the Forests of the Night takes an excerpt from the fictional “Bacigalupi Lectures” which describe the rise of many tiny “secret societies”  made up of just two people sometimes, where people trade among themselves and use knowledge to get what they need, truly trusting few but connecting to many.

I’ve also been reading Paolo Bacigalupi.  The Wind Up Girl and Pump Six are set in a future that is post-climate change and strikingly similar to the world described by METAtropolis.  On Wikipedia you can learn that Bacigalupi’s works are considered to be part of the biopunk genre and perhaps METAtropolis is too.

METAtropolis was designed as an audio book, not for print, and the narrators turn it into a completely different experience than if you are reading it.

Michael Hogan, taken from WikipediaWhat makes this such an amazing work of art, this short story, is the tone and depth given to it by narrator Michael Hogan.  I know and love him from Battlestar Galactica, and the beautiful job he does on this story is astounding.  It’s as if he’s reading a poem.  His voice sounds like he should be a legendary western character akin to Clint Eastwood or John Wayne.

This time it’s not the different voices for different characters that makes the narrator stand out, but instead his darkly melodious voice and the seriousness with which he goes about his task.

You can listen to this AMAZING short story by the late Jay Lake on his website, www.jlake.com.


Biopunk genre, The Wind-Up Girl

Book:  The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book is part of a genre called “biopunk”.  Wikipedia describes it:

Biopunk (a combination of “biotechnology” and “punk”) is a technoprogressive movement advocating open access to genetic information.  Biopunk hobbyists or biohackers experiment with DNA and other aspects of genetics.  The related biopunk science fiction genre focuses on biotechnology and subversives.

The Wind-Up GirlThe Wind-Up Girl is about a genetically engineered human who wants to be an independent person despite her genetics and engineering.  She strives to go against the grain of her programming and succeeds to some degree.

Bacigalupi does not create a tale that is pro-eugenics, but more gives the argument that it is inevitable.  In this scary new world there is no oversight from some grand global federation that could prevent any given country from engaging in genetically modifying humans.

Who’s to say that someone somewhere has already accomplished this task anyway, in the here and now?  You can buy zebrafish that have been genetically modified to be fluorescent purple!

But arguments for or against GMOs aside, this is a terrific well thought out book with a serious ring of realism and it deserves a read.  Imagine a hot climate-changed world with civilization hanging on by a thread, no more oil so everyone travels by boat or animal or bike or dirigible, and with hardly a non-GMO crop or animal in sight.  The Wind-Up Girl will put you in the moment.