Tag Archives: METAtropolis

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.

Tygre comes to Cascadiopolis (METAtropolis)

METAtropolis (Book One) by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, & Karl Schroeder

In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake

METAtropolisI like it when a story tells you information about the end.  In the Forests of the Night tells us quickly that the powerful mystery man, Tygre Tygre (named after the Blake poem) will die at the end.  I appreciate this simply because as a reader I don’t want to be sad at the end.  I want to be prepared for it, to not have pointless hope, to not be disappointed.

The author doesn’t set up an ending that we wonder about and pine over but instead tells us the ending up front.  We are to find out how the great Tygre meets his demise and how that coincides with the falling of the mysterious and transient semi-post-societal collapse city, Cascadiopolis.  Intermittently throughout, we hear (or read) segments of a report created by the city members after the city has disintegrated.

The name In the Forests of the Night is appropriate for a number of reasons, and the book seems a little like a classic poem in just how beautifully lyrical it is.  The writing is dramatic yet strangely down to earth, even earthy.  Loving Cascadia, the area between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC., I can imagine the dark loam of the city-in-the-forest, Cascadiapolis.

So Tygre dies, but the story is as much about Cascadiopolis as about him.  It’s a romantic yet harsh place with lava tubes to protect from surveillance and for interrogations and other secret things.  Hotbed of open source tech discoveries and savagely protected sustainable haven, it takes skills and permission to be admitted to Cascadiopolis and the borders are heavily protected.  Greenies live here, and anarchists, and people who have something to offer this “idea” of organization and lifestyle.  Since that is what Cascadiopolis is, an idea, not a location.  It can be picked up and moved anywhere.

Blake’s poem though, The Tyger, conjures doom, brought by a terrifying being; this short story describes how the all-knowing Tygre brings doom to the city, or at least rides on the current of it.  Tygre is a modern day Jesus, savior and destroyer, a god-like figure.  He loves the people of the city and what it represents, calls it his “project”, yet we never really find out how this can be true when he’s a total stranger.  Could I dare to hope we find out more about him in the METAtropolis sequels?

More on this story in the next post.