Posts Tagged ‘bio-engineering’

Thoughts on Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities and Julianna Baggott’s Pure

I picked up these  two books in close succession and read them back-to-back (actually, I didn’t exactly “pick up” Bacigalupi’s book; I preordered it because his work is probably the most exciting world building- and idea-wise of any current author I’ve read).  I was mid-way through Pure when The Drowned Cities arrived, and I plowed through both rather quickly. The two share enough similarities, despite huge differences in set-up and execution, that I thought it was worth looking at them side-by-side

My short take is that both are strong, mature entries in the currently booming young adult dystopia/post-apocalyptic genre (to be fair, Bacigalupi’s is better defined as “post-collapse”; and Baggott’s book doesn’t seem to be tagged by the publisher as YA even if the label really fits); I’d strongly recommend both to fans of the genre.  They are both plot-driven in typical YA fashion, but the ideas behind the worlds, and the development of dark, relevant to our world themes that reflect on our own situation, stand up well enough for honest, open-minded adult readers to not dismiss them. From a ranking point of view, Bacigalupi’s book is hands-down the superior work, partially due to the amount of work he has put into developing the world in which it takes place (the same world as his earlier YA novel Ship Breaker, which shares a main character, The Wind-up Girl, and at least two stories from his collection Pump Six and Other Stories).  I’d recommend The Drowned Cities to anyone, and everyone concerned about the future should be reading his books, but Pure, as good as I think it is, may be more of a genre fan novel (its rights have, however, already been picked up by Fox Studios, due undoubtedly to the genre’s popularity; I have no idea what the status of Bacigalupi’s YA books being adapted is, but they would work very well in the hands of a good director).

So both books are arguably “post-apocalyptic,” but what exactly does this mean?  As I mentioned, The Drowned Cities takes place in the same post-peak-oil, climate change and rising sea-levels, salvage-as-capital world as his prior novels (after “the accelerated age”), and this world is fully fleshed-out, thoughtfully considered, and a downright frightening view of where we may be in a matter of decades.  Pure is more of a throwback; the destruction of civilization (at least in the post-apocalyptic North America setting) is due to “the detonations,” a missile exchange more reminiscent of cold war-era science fiction than contemporary visions of the end of the world as we know it.  If this were the extent of Baggott’s world-building, it would be a mediocre read, but she adds in two factors that make the world far more interesting than another Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior rehash.

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UPDATE:  Apparently the studio didn’t like people seeing  Ian Joyner’s concept art that they didn’t use.  His gallery of the images now reads: “We had a request from the studio to not show this work at this time. I will update this page if/when things change.”  Given that the io9 article has had over 33K views, and the art is still there for viewing/fuskering [update 5/26: io9 article now deleted] and isn’t going to just disappear from the internet, I’m not sure what point they are making besides strong-arming an artist.  Chalk it up as another incident that shows how out of touch with reality Hollywood is.

Original post from before the art was taken down:

Unused Hunger Games concept art would have made the final arena scenes better

In my review of The Hunger Games film, I wrote that I was a bit disappointed with the sanitization of, and seemingly unnecessary changes to, the end scenes in the arena.  The menacing yet generic look of the canine muttations in the movie was an especially disappointing shift from the book for me because it removes an element of how nasty in terms of psychological warfare the Capitol is, and also how technologically sophisticated.  So, I’m even more disappointed to find (via io9) that the original film artwork actually incorporated the dead tribute look in pretty awesome fashion.  Here’s a few pics of Ian Joyner’s concept art for the film.

Thresh-muttation:

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