Title: METAtropolis: Cascadia
Author: Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tobias S. Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder & Ken Scholes
Published: 2010 by Audible Frontiers
Read: October 25. – 28. 2013
Length: 13 hours
Status: First reading
Genre: Science fiction
The setting of the second book is Cascadia, the truly green city of the Metatropolis world that is in the middle of a soft apocalypse. The world is post-industrial, post-capitalist, post-national. The first volume was all about how to create a livable world in that setting, this second book is set around 2070. The world is changed and quite different but also recognisable.
This post wil tracking my progress of listing to the book and my reactions to the ideas and stories in the book. I hope you will enjoy seeing what I think as I think it. I will update this post at least after each post and post a review afterward with my overall thoughts about the second METAtropolis book.
While the first book is rather urban in scope this book is all about the rural areas.
The Bull Dancers by Jay Lake
Ha! A businessman just commented that he needed hard currency, talking about Euros not soft currency talking about the US Dollar. I really find it interesting that the authors judge Europe to be that much more stable than the US. Perhaps that will be explained later.
The language is beautiful and slightly whimsical! And it is so interesting to hear about open source economics.
Rewilding crews! What a cool ideas – crews that remove crumbling roads. I have never run into that ideas before, doing a bit of research later and I learn that it is a real movement. Cool. And seriously why not in the errors of the world where humans no longer really live. And the term used in METAtropolis goes quite a bit further than animal crossings over roads.
I love the Dune-like book chapters instead of doing infodumps or exposition. It works really well.
The “rust belt” I adore the terminology that the authors have invented it seems very likely and quite pronounceable.
“The city is an idea, not a place.”
I really like that the first story is a continuation of Lake’s story from the first book. And it is adding a lot of meaning to that story. There are some great sentences in this story painting vivid pictures in my mind. The quote below might be paraphrased a little:
He slapped together a rifle that looked like it had been build in a high school shop class, possibly by special needs students.
I know just how that would look now. One would think that all stories would do that, but they do not.
I really like the slow conspiracy that run throughout these three books. The story is all about hope and the uselessness of money. It is a really melancol story and I liked it a lot. I am looking forward to hearing more about this in the third book.
Water to Wine by Mary Robinette Kowal
I have never read a story about winemaking before, much less a science fiction story.
I just realised that Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey, which people have been raving about, since I really like the writing so far and the quite pace, I think I will have to pick it up.
I learned quite a bit about making wine. Apparently Kowal’s husband is a winemaker (the things you learn on twitter). The details in the story rings very true, which makes a lot of sense with the personal knowledge of winemaking Kowal must have.
Close family relationships plays a major role in the plot and not in a narst potting Dune, kind of way, but rather everyone is trying to do the right thing by everyone. It is rather unusual in science fiction but it is wonderful to see.
I was too wrapped up in the story (and eating dinner) to write a lot while listening to the story. The story is rather slow paced but moves you along by a fairly high speed. It only give you the amount of information you need to make your own conclusions and lets you guess along with the narrator about what is going on in the story. Compared to the first story this one was much more about the sense of place and about the characters.
Loved, loved, loved the story. It was all about wine, family and trusting each other – and of course about how businesses fight each other. I will be reading more by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Byways by Tobias S. Buckell
Narrated by Wil Wheaton, sqeee. Great reading, he makes the languages rhythm sing.
While the first two stories talk about “rewilding” the third one starts with rewilding efforts. Or rather it is about reusing the materials of the unused suburbs – big machines eating the materials.
He got a real rush out of destroying the soft world that he had abandoned.
Lovely writing – it makes me happy. I know it is not flowery or pretty but flowery or over complicated language irritates me. I think half the books I end up not finishing has over complicated language or over explain things. You do not need long descriptions when a few sentences can paint just as clear a picture and let the reader’s mind fill in the blanks.
This story makes it clear that this book is also about reopening the frontér of America, with all it’s politics and practical problems and solutions. Again this story is about the people, the best stories always are. They focus on the people and let the concepts and ideas be minor characters in the stories, but the human relationships and the humans be the main characters because science fiction and fantasy is all about agency.
Mug turtle! This story is also a sequel to Buckell’s story from the first book. I find it really interesting that our protagonist does not believe in the green course but is in the fight for the kicks of it. “Sticking my fingers in the socket” as he says. I liked that his views grew and changed like they did in the last story. That he questioned those around him and their views on the world.
How ideas bread in cities – that is such an interesting theory – I had heard it before, but never seen it explored in fiction. Ideas screwing each other breeding new and more interesting ideas by bumping into each other. It is the same kind of environment you can create on a good convention of any kind on a micro level. I wouldn’t mind a story that went deeper into that. Travel is important if you don’t want your civilization to stagnate meeting of mind and the experience of coming home and seeing your world with the outsider’s eyes.
Great sequel to the story from the first book. I loved seeing the characters again. And Mug Turtle best name ever.
Confessor by Elizabeth Bear
Our protagonist is dealing with emotional damage. Another law enforcement story.
I love that Edgewater is consistently annoying, badly behaved and clearly quote corrupt from story to story.
The story jumps back and forward between two points of view, an adult and a child, both female. I am trying to figure out if they are parallel in time, it is not yet clear.
Pacific tree octopus… awesome. Genetically engineered octopus.
I will not say a lot about this story because I don’t want to spoil it but I do want to say that Bear is for once not mean to her characters but let them have a good ending.
Deodand by Karl Schroeder
deodand [ˈdiːəʊˌdænd] n
(Law) English law (formerly) a thing that had caused a person’s death and was forfeited to the crown for a charitable purpose: abolished 1862
[from Anglo-French deodande, from Medieval Latin deōdandum, from Latin Deō dandum (something) to be given to God, from deus god + dare to give]
Uh another sequel. I really like the protagonist – our Russian nuclear arms inspector. He is stranded in Casadia, very much to his annoyance.
Time sensitive local currencies… you gotta spend it before it expire. Interesting concept and it definitely solves some of the normal problems with money – owing people work invitingly into the future. Currency is very interesting and strange – the unrealness of money is not something we think about when they are stable, but when it isn’t it become a big problem.
Exoskeletons and Gold Man – interesting
This story is all about ethics, morals and A.I.s – it isn’t so interesting if they are sentient is it? It is more interesting if they are moral creatures or purely logical creatures. I like the streetcar problem.
Rich sea otters – loving it!
This story deals with the difference between humans and non-humans, now sentient do something have to be before we have to take their opinion into account? Can sea otters be compensated for the carbon-good they are doing? Should trees have a say? SmartDust it is all about smart dust.
I really like the story, it is so stuffed full of ideas. Karl Schroeder’s story in the first book was also the most crewy and thought provoking. I will have to read more by him wouldn’t I?
A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves by Ken Scholes
In the middle of the last story i was thinking that it would be interesting to hear from one of the religious areas and I am getting it. I love how many militæry people that are in these books – and how non-stereotype they are.
This is a great story about fundamentalism and bring about armageddon. I don’t think I want to write more about it because it will be spoiling the story.
Wonderful, thought inspiring stories, many of them picking up where the first book left off but all of them standing on their own and can be read together or standing along. There were no misses in this collection they were all solid, well told and interesting stories about a world that might be. This second book is less about technology than the first one, but more about community and human relationships. It has inspired me to seek out those of the authors I did not already know.
What did I think of the first one? Read my review here