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Five original tales set in a shared urban future--from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment...a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement...a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city...a slacker in a "zero-footprint" town gets a most unusual new job...and a weapons inves Five original tales set in a shared urban future--from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment...a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement...a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city...a slacker in a "zero-footprint" town gets a most unusual new job...and a weapons investigator uses his skills to discover a metropolis hidden right in front of his eyes. Welcome to the future of cities. Welcome to Metatropolis. More than an anthology, Metatropolis is the brainchild of five of science fiction's hottest writers--Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder, and project editor John Scalzi---who combined their talents to build a new urban future, and then wrote their own stories in this collectively-constructed world. The results are individual glimpses of a shared vision, and a reading experience unlike any you've had before. Old Man's War Series #1 Old Man's War #2 The Ghost Brigades #3 The Last Colony #4 Zoe's Tale #5 The Human Division #6 The End of All Things Short fiction: "After the Coup" Other Tor Books The Android's Dream Agent to the Stars Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded Fuzzy Nation Redshirts Lock In The Collapsing Empire (forthcoming)


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Five original tales set in a shared urban future--from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment...a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement...a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city...a slacker in a "zero-footprint" town gets a most unusual new job...and a weapons inves Five original tales set in a shared urban future--from some of the hottest young writers in modern SF A strange man comes to an even stranger encampment...a bouncer becomes the linchpin of an unexpected urban movement...a courier on the run has to decide who to trust in a dangerous city...a slacker in a "zero-footprint" town gets a most unusual new job...and a weapons investigator uses his skills to discover a metropolis hidden right in front of his eyes. Welcome to the future of cities. Welcome to Metatropolis. More than an anthology, Metatropolis is the brainchild of five of science fiction's hottest writers--Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder, and project editor John Scalzi---who combined their talents to build a new urban future, and then wrote their own stories in this collectively-constructed world. The results are individual glimpses of a shared vision, and a reading experience unlike any you've had before. Old Man's War Series #1 Old Man's War #2 The Ghost Brigades #3 The Last Colony #4 Zoe's Tale #5 The Human Division #6 The End of All Things Short fiction: "After the Coup" Other Tor Books The Android's Dream Agent to the Stars Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded Fuzzy Nation Redshirts Lock In The Collapsing Empire (forthcoming)

30 review for Metatropolis: Original Science Fiction Stories in a Shared Future

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    I've observed that the way of anthologies seems to be that you win some and you lose some, and METAtropolis adheres to that view. In this unique anthology, all the stories are written in the same, post-oil world, where either you're green, you're stupid, or you're dead. Although all of the stories are connected via world, they have such a range of qualities that I feel that it is only really fair to review each independently of the others. In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake was certainly th I've observed that the way of anthologies seems to be that you win some and you lose some, and METAtropolis adheres to that view. In this unique anthology, all the stories are written in the same, post-oil world, where either you're green, you're stupid, or you're dead. Although all of the stories are connected via world, they have such a range of qualities that I feel that it is only really fair to review each independently of the others. In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake was certainly the weakest story of the anthology for me, which was unfortunate seeing as it was the longest as well as the first. Basically, a stranger by the name of Tyger Tyger (no joke) enters the secretive tree-hugger city of Cascadia by night, makes a lot of friends, sings a bit, fights, makes out with a few people, and - well, I won't spoil the ending of this story. The pacing just felt too slow, which is especially bad seeing as this was an audiobook, and I had trouble getting emotionally tied in with any of the characters, least of all Tyger Tyger. After just over two hours, I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep listening to this audiobook, but since I'd spent a credit on it at Audible, figured I should probably see how the next short story went. Stochasti-City by Tobias Buckell was a large improvement over In the Forest of the Night and far better paced. As someone from bike-loving Fort Collins, Colorado, I found a particular delight in the idea that cyclists were the key to shutting down car-riddled Detroit and starting something novel there, right under the authorities noses. This story had a hint of steampunk, a dash of distopia, and a whopping serving of brilliant-character. The narrator was a marked improvement over Night's and overall was more pleasant to listen to. By the time I'd finished this story, I was ready to forgive the previous story's weaknesses and continue on. The Red in the Sky is Our Blood by Sci-fi superpower Elizabeth Bear was probably the most emotional story in the bunch, and it expanded more into the disfunct society of Detroit of the future. The protagonist Katy is not only running from her Russian Mafia husband, but she is also searching for her daughter step-daughter among a whole bunch of other unfortunate things that she gets involved in. Katy is a character after feminist's hearts: smart, witty, and in need of no man to make her way and survive in the harsh reality that she lives in. Right on. Utere Nihil non Extra Quiritationem Suis by John Scalzi was the first story in the bunch that made me laugh, I mean, REALLY made me laugh. It gives us another view of life inside a city, this time New St. Louis, and if had to live in either New Detroit or New St. Louis, sign me up for New St. Louis! This story is extremely well written with a good bit of humor interspersed between the view of politics and life in the future, and a protagonist that I really enjoyed. I know that I've been hanging out with tv-tropers for too long, because I couldn't help notice the Chekov's Guns that were cleverly placed in the beginning all going off at the end! The final story To Hi from Far Celinea by Karl Schroeder was my absolute favorite story of the entire anthology. STEAMPUNK AUGMENTED REALITY!!! That is all I have to say. If you pick up this book for anything, pick it up for this story. Overall, METAtropolis was a pretty good book, with only the first short story dragging my rating down from 4 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    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 s 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. See more reviews at The BiblioSanctum

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Templeman

    I couldn't really stomach the first and third writers (ironically the one labeled the "up and coming" one of the bunch), as they smugly injected their personal political philosophy in a relentless fashion into an apocalyptic world where such seemed needless, distracting, and blatantly self-satisfying. My favorite story was easily the 4th (the pig farming, written by the editor last), although the last was the most original and intriguing (truly demonstrating how technology would change cultures I couldn't really stomach the first and third writers (ironically the one labeled the "up and coming" one of the bunch), as they smugly injected their personal political philosophy in a relentless fashion into an apocalyptic world where such seemed needless, distracting, and blatantly self-satisfying. My favorite story was easily the 4th (the pig farming, written by the editor last), although the last was the most original and intriguing (truly demonstrating how technology would change cultures in ways we can't currently comprehend, while the other stories will likely prove to be as most SciFi is: a continuation of current beliefs, opinions, and trends (many of which will prove laughably short sighted in less than a decade). I do believe this project would have been better served with a less philosophically homogeneous bunch if for no other reason than to reign in the more obnoxious authors while offering more realistic projections. A post-apocalyptic world where smug yuppies rule supreme is much scarier for some than zombies or bandits ever could be, but the entire piece is surprisingly cohesive and (at times) thought provoking. I will certainly check out the other works of the 4th and 5th authors.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    I haven't read many anthologies based on a relatively fully-fleshed concept decided on at the start, but I really thought the coherency of the stories made this a solid examination of future cities couched in a number of very solid and interesting tales from these various artists. We've got the bio-revolutions, MMORPG economies and espionage, and even a little bit of ethical examinations. It is very much in tune with the modern speculations in speculative fiction and is lovely to behold. I've re I haven't read many anthologies based on a relatively fully-fleshed concept decided on at the start, but I really thought the coherency of the stories made this a solid examination of future cities couched in a number of very solid and interesting tales from these various artists. We've got the bio-revolutions, MMORPG economies and espionage, and even a little bit of ethical examinations. It is very much in tune with the modern speculations in speculative fiction and is lovely to behold. I've really got a sweet tooth for the sub-genre, thanks to Windup Girl, Reamde, Rule 34, a lot of Greg Bear's stuff, to name a few. This is only in audiobook format and has many of the great names reading each short story. Very good production, including most of the cast of ST:TNG for you fanboys out there.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. METAtropolis: It’s not a utopia. It’s just maybe something that sucks a little less It’s the end of the world as we know it, and it turns out that all those eco-freaks were right all along. We humans destroyed the planet and now we’ve got to live with the mess we’ve made. Many world governments, including the U.S., have been essentially dismantled and large, mostly independent and self-governing city-states have taken their place. Under the direction of John ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. METAtropolis: It’s not a utopia. It’s just maybe something that sucks a little less It’s the end of the world as we know it, and it turns out that all those eco-freaks were right all along. We humans destroyed the planet and now we’ve got to live with the mess we’ve made. Many world governments, including the U.S., have been essentially dismantled and large, mostly independent and self-governing city-states have taken their place. Under the direction of John Scalzi, the story authors — Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, and Scalzi himself — got together to map out their new post-apocalyptic world and their goals for METAtropolis. (Scalzi gives insight into some of this during the introductions to each story in the audiobook version.) Thus, though the stories are set in different locales and use different characters, the history and rules are the same, and they sometimes even reference each other. This sounds like a terrific idea, and indeed the focus on collaboration is evident. I liked that some concepts, such as “turking”, are introduced and explained in one story, then used again in a later one. So what about the stories? “In the Forests of the Night” by Jay Lake: After the collapse of the United States government, The Cascadian Independence Project is finally thriving and is populated by Silicon Valley techies who are more interested in being green than in venture capitalism. They live in holes in the ground, develop new technologies, and just want to be left alone to live together cooperatively. Their lives are disrupted when a messiah figure shows up. I love Jay Lake’s style — character-driven, detailed, lush — and I enjoyed the setting of Cascadia — the swath of rich forest land in the Pacific Northwest. But this story didn’t hold together for me. The inclusion of the messiah figure was confusing and had no relation to the rest of the stories. Also, since a lot of this new world’s background (e.g., oil crunch, resource drain, etc.) was provided in this story, there’s quite a lot of exposition (about how we humans have destroyed the world) to suffer through. This got old pretty quickly because the green anti-capitalism messages were just too heavy-handed. However, the audio production of this story was excellent and Michael Hogan is a terrific reader. Tobias Buckell’s story, “Stochasti-City,” set in Detroit, was much better. At least there was a coherent story and an interesting main character here. Reginald is just looking out for himself, but when he takes a risky high-paying turking job, he gets involved with some anti-automobile eco-terrorists. I enjoyed this character and some of the ideas that Buckell presents, though all of the anti-whatever themes were starting to grate. Again, another nice reading, this one by Scott Brick. Elizabeth Bear’s “The Red in the Sky is Our Blood” is also set in Detroit and complements Buckell’s story. I think this story was supposed to be hopeful, as it imagined a way that like-minded people might live and work together for their common good, but I just found it bleak and depressing. In Elizabeth Bear’s character’s own words: “It’s not a utopia. It’s just maybe something that sucks a little less.” This story was read by Kandyse McClure who does a good job. John Scalzi tells a light-hearted story that, for the first time in this collection, was entertaining in its own right. That is, its plot and characters weren’t over-shadowed by the message. Benjy, who lives in New St. Louis, has waited until the last minute to get his job and is in danger of being exiled. The city government assigns jobs, but because Benjy is a slacker and didn’t do so well on his aptitude tests, he gets stuck doing the worst job in the city. The reader, Alessandro Guiliani, had Benjy down perfectly and “Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis” was very funny. I laughed aloud often and finally felt like I wasn’t wasting my time with METAtropolis. Stefan Rudnicki, who I completely adore, read Karl Schroeder’s “To Hie from Far Celenia,” but that’s not the only reason I liked it. Here we learn that people of post-apocalyptic Earth are starting to deal with life by retreating into virtual worlds that have their own economies and constantly shifting world maps. Some people do this for fun (perhaps they never got over the steampunk fad and they still want to wear paisley and pocket watches, for example) and some do it for other reasons… I enjoyed the world-building in this story and it stretched my brain more than the previous tales did. Also, the future evolution we experience in this story is the one that seems most likely to me, and there were a few ideas that truly fascinated me, such as the autistic Cyranoid. All in all, I loved the premise of METAtropolis, the authors did a great job with their collaboration, and the production, by Brilliance Audio, was excellent. However, I only truly enjoyed half of the collection because, until John Scalzi’s story, I just got tired of reading about climate change, zero footprint, carbon load, globalization, resource drains, big-capital, etc. These anti-everything messages aren’t new and interesting ideas anymore, and they were just too heavy-handed for greedy humans like me. ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cale

    This is a thought-provoking collection of short stories revolving around a shared future-world. The stories don't overlap much; nor do the primary factors in the stories, but that just means it manages to blow one's mind in a multitude of different ways. There are 5 stories in the book; one (Scalzi's) is very fun, but not particularly futuristic. Two were serious mental trips into technologies that don't feel like they're as far away as the stories intimate, and their primary technologies (real-l This is a thought-provoking collection of short stories revolving around a shared future-world. The stories don't overlap much; nor do the primary factors in the stories, but that just means it manages to blow one's mind in a multitude of different ways. There are 5 stories in the book; one (Scalzi's) is very fun, but not particularly futuristic. Two were serious mental trips into technologies that don't feel like they're as far away as the stories intimate, and their primary technologies (real-life mechanical Turk work for an underemployed society, and an ARG virtual world that has physical world implications) were fascinating explorations of the concepts. And enjoyable stories to boot. The other two stories didn't work very well for me; one was exploring a sociological future and just kind of fell flat. The other was focused on an eco-extreme lifestyle and just didn't work at all for me. But the three stories that I liked I really liked. The ideas as well as the stories are fascinating glimpses, and although the overall world is rather dystopian, these pieces seemed near-future and intriguing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cory Hughart

    Interesting to read about a "post-apocalyptic" future that isn't all negative. The focus on green communities seemed a bit forced at first, but I began to understand it as a reaction to whatever brought the world-as-we-know-it down. The only critique I have, which is more of a regret, is that, like so many other short stories, many of these feel like chopped-off segments of a longer story. Most of these end abruptly without any proper resolution; some even seem to cut out large chunks of the nar Interesting to read about a "post-apocalyptic" future that isn't all negative. The focus on green communities seemed a bit forced at first, but I began to understand it as a reaction to whatever brought the world-as-we-know-it down. The only critique I have, which is more of a regret, is that, like so many other short stories, many of these feel like chopped-off segments of a longer story. Most of these end abruptly without any proper resolution; some even seem to cut out large chunks of the narrative in order to appease the length-limits.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stefan

    Metatropolis is an interesting book, to say the least: in addition to being a "shared world" anthology, featuring stories from five authors working in the same "collectively-constructed" future setting, it's also (as far as I know) unique in that it was released first as an audio book (reviewed below by Kat) and only subsequently as a traditional "paper" book, first as a limited edition by Subterranean Press, and now in a shiny new edition by Tor. The concept of the book's shared world is equally Metatropolis is an interesting book, to say the least: in addition to being a "shared world" anthology, featuring stories from five authors working in the same "collectively-constructed" future setting, it's also (as far as I know) unique in that it was released first as an audio book (reviewed below by Kat) and only subsequently as a traditional "paper" book, first as a limited edition by Subterranean Press, and now in a shiny new edition by Tor. The concept of the book's shared world is equally interesting: due to environmental change and political upheaval, the idea of national government has been superseded by something akin to city states, often self-governed or in partnership with other cities across the world, while outside the city walls the situation may be more similar to what you'd find in a post-apocalyptic novel. Each of the five stories collected in Metatropolis explores the concept of what such a city or society might be like in interesting, different and (mostly) successful ways. If you're not sold yet, the list of authors reads like a veritable All Star team of current, interesting SFF authors: Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder and John Scalzi, who also served as editor for the entire project. "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake opens Metatropolis with a powerful story about a mysterious and charismatic stranger arriving in Cascadiopolis — a hidden city situated in the Cascades area that stretches from Portland up to Vancouver. As the first story in the anthology, it unfortunately bears the burden of having to include some world-building information, which is (more or less gracefully) handled by including extracts from economics and sociology texts that draw up the anthology's shared world future in a few quick strokes. Passing over those necessary info dumps, you'll find a beautiful story, effectively displaying a number of different perspectives, written in gorgeous, dense prose that just begs to be reread. The story lays on the William Blake a bit too thickly — the main character's name Tygre is one thing, but naming part of the city Symmetry was a bit much for me. Still, filled with characters that have the raw power of archetypes, this is nothing short of an excellent story. (Four stars.) Tobias Buckell's entry, with the groan-inducing title "Stochasti-City", switches us over to a drastically changed Detroit, and to Reginald, an ex-military bar bouncer who becomes involved in a unique urban rebellion. The story has a not-quite-here-yet future realism that reminded me of Cory Doctorow, with several elements that seem as if they could be happening today — but not quite. I enjoyed Reginald's story of gradual personal awakening, the more subtly handled world-building touches, and especially the sense of real social change occurring in the story. (Three stars.) Next up is Elizabeth Bear's "The Red in the Sky is our Blood," the gripping story of Cadence Grange and her not-quite-stepdaughter Firuza. It describes another unique social experiment, cleverly hinted at in Tobias Buckell's story, and also refers back to the Cascades setting of "In the Forests of the Night," which pulls the entire anthology so far into a coherent whole and helps its fictional world become more real. This story also contains the most beautiful prose in the entire anthology (which is saying a lot, given that it also features Jay Lake). Just read this gem of a sentence: "Cadie could picture the conversation like intersecting fingers, locked at the base but pointing in incompatible directions, pushing against one another." (Four stars.) John Scalzi's story "Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis" (which, I believe, is Latin for "Look, I'm smart and know impressive quotes") just didn't work for me. Its protagonist Benjamin has the smarmy, sarcastic sense of humor of almost every character in the author's novels, and the plot, involving a slacker forced into gross manual labor, somehow manages to be improbable at first and predictable towards the end. It also involves large amounts of pig excrement. There are some interesting looks at people living in a city-based society, contrasted effectively with life outside in the wilderness, but aside from this, I could have done without it. Still, if you generally enjoy John Scalzi's style and sense of humor, you will probably like this story too. (One star.) Thankfully, Karl Schroeder's "To Hie from Far Cilenia" closes out Metatropolis with a sizzling mind-bender of a story about technology-enhanced "virtual" levels of society that overlay — and influence — everyday reality. The ending rattles a bit, but there are enough stunning ideas (cyranoids!) to make "To Hie from Far Cilenia" a story that's almost impossible to summarize, but also one you're guaranteed to remember for a long time. (Four stars.) Taken all together, Metatropolis is a unique and mostly high quality collection of connected stories by some of today's most exciting authors. On one level, the anthology has an important and relevant message about the state of our present society and the direction we're heading in. On another, it's just a great read with some truly memorable stories. Check it out. (This review was also published at the Fantasy Literature website: www.fantasyliterature.com --- come check us out!)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I thought this book was going to be a dystopia, but it was a surprise utopia (sort of). In a series of corresponding novellas, it imagines a future where corporations have taken over certain places and created a series of city-states that compete with more traditional governments. But the corporations are all environmentally conscious and the newly formed city-states are the only places able to survive in a world ravaged by climate change and poor land management. It definitely was imaginative a I thought this book was going to be a dystopia, but it was a surprise utopia (sort of). In a series of corresponding novellas, it imagines a future where corporations have taken over certain places and created a series of city-states that compete with more traditional governments. But the corporations are all environmentally conscious and the newly formed city-states are the only places able to survive in a world ravaged by climate change and poor land management. It definitely was imaginative and seemed grounded in real science. The tone is dark and sort of noir despite the hopeful through-line. Even though John Scalzi is the main editor, the book isn't his usual brand of zany.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Charles Owen

    This is a set of five stories meant to share a common theme of future cities. Of the stores, only the Scalzi story is very good. The rest are ponderous and preachy. I was often quite bored. The book reads like a political manifesto about how evil corporations are and how great it would be if everyone just shared everything. Many have commented on the poor quality of the stories, but I've not seen many comments about the bad science in the book and many other ideas that are just not very sound. Mu This is a set of five stories meant to share a common theme of future cities. Of the stores, only the Scalzi story is very good. The rest are ponderous and preachy. I was often quite bored. The book reads like a political manifesto about how evil corporations are and how great it would be if everyone just shared everything. Many have commented on the poor quality of the stories, but I've not seen many comments about the bad science in the book and many other ideas that are just not very sound. Much of the book is based on various forms of indoor farming, sometimes underground, but mainly in skyscrapers. Vertical farming has been proposed as an idea, but in general it does not work. The power requirements for a skyscraper to have farming on every floor are way too much for the solar panels they mount on the sides, which would also tend to block the direct sunlight they would need. Somehow this simple idea is ignored. Two of the stories take place in Detroit. Have they been to Detroit? Wind power has a lot of potential, but much of the year a solar plant would be useless in Michigan due to the weather. They also want to make Detroit a car-free city, by making everyone use bicycles. Have they tried to ride a bike in the winter? They claim one of the authors is from the Detroit area. I don't believe it. There is the idea of skyscrapers in Detroit that are abandoned. Nobody knows who owns them and nobody can buy or use them because they would have to pay decades of back taxes and such. The real owners can't even use them themselves because they would have to pay all of those back taxes. Oh, how they could help the people if they would just let them move in. But, the owners have hired a private security company to guard them. How many things are wrong with this idea? If you don't pay taxes, eventually the property is seized. The city will know who owns them, for sure. Fundamentally, one of the stories is based on the idea of stealing such a building. Now, how is that supposed to be a good thing? I don't know what to make of the first story, where a messiah arrives, accomplishes nothing, and the city is destroyed by the military because they keep releasing technology they invent into the public domain? What nonsense! The last story assumed that as long as you had good VR glasses, you could live your life in a shipping container and be as happy as a peach.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Milton Marshall

    I got this collection of stories as promotional gift from Audible. Since it was free, I went into it interested in the premise of authors cooperating in building a future world centered around meta-cities, but not really expecting much from it. I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. I will try to keep this review spoiler free. The first story, really had a couple of interesting characters, but really played out more like a crude storyboard for a much longer novel. Many of the images I got I got this collection of stories as promotional gift from Audible. Since it was free, I went into it interested in the premise of authors cooperating in building a future world centered around meta-cities, but not really expecting much from it. I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. I will try to keep this review spoiler free. The first story, really had a couple of interesting characters, but really played out more like a crude storyboard for a much longer novel. Many of the images I got from the reading were convoluted. In fact this and the last story are why I did not leave a four star rating. I honestly couldn't make it through the entirety of the last story. It was creepy and held promise but was also very slow, which didn't work for me with the subject matter it dealt with. The middle three story lines were great. I thoroughly enjoyed both stories dealing with the ruins of Detroit. But I have to say that John Scalzi's story was the best in my opinion. I found the account in his story regarding why the protagonist, a typical late teen slacker in a futuristic setting, has a pig in his wedding party very humorous. I also enjoyed hearing about the collaborative process between the works of fiction. This proved more entertaining than the first and second story to me. There are several areas that did take away from the enjoyment of the readings. The social commentary throughout this science fiction work was very heavy handed. It does make sense, for the setting that they chose, but I could also see where this could come off as almost propaganda worthy for the more conservative leaning listener and turn them off this story. I personally feel that their jabs at government, big business, and the green movement are pretty accurate, even if they utilized a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel in that social commentary. Metatropolis was entertaining enough for me to recommend to anyone who is looking for some light science fiction listening on their commute back and forth to work. It will keep you occupied for a day or two.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

    This book was conceived as a joint project between five authors, in which they co-created the world in which their stories would be set, but then took their stories in very different directions. They're all concerned with the evolution of cities and breakdown of our current capitalistic, consumption-based economy. Not quite post-apocalyptic, nevertheless some of the stories have a distinct survivalist feel to them, and they are all creative and thought-provoking. I liked how the stories wound ba This book was conceived as a joint project between five authors, in which they co-created the world in which their stories would be set, but then took their stories in very different directions. They're all concerned with the evolution of cities and breakdown of our current capitalistic, consumption-based economy. Not quite post-apocalyptic, nevertheless some of the stories have a distinct survivalist feel to them, and they are all creative and thought-provoking. I liked how the stories wound back and forth and borrowed terms and references from each other, although it felt somewhat artificial and jarring each time this bit of familiarity popped up, because the individual writing styles of the authors were so different. But "turking" (no one in the stories can remember where this came from -- amusing) and vertical farms (cool idea) were both fun to encounter and re-encounter.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Killjoy

    I love how these different authors envision the future, in particular how so many of them reach anarchist conclusions but not through the historical leftist anarchist tradition.

  14. 5 out of 5

    LindaJ^

    This is an anthology with a twist. John Scalzi is the editor and also the author of one of the stories. Five other sci fi/fantasy authors wrote stories for this book. Scalzi introduces the book and each story. The narrators, a different one for each story, are all great. The twist is that the authors collectively created the future world in which the stories would be set. This future world is one devastated by climate change but surviving because of old and new technologies. The METAtropolis is This is an anthology with a twist. John Scalzi is the editor and also the author of one of the stories. Five other sci fi/fantasy authors wrote stories for this book. Scalzi introduces the book and each story. The narrators, a different one for each story, are all great. The twist is that the authors collectively created the future world in which the stories would be set. This future world is one devastated by climate change but surviving because of old and new technologies. The METAtropolis is a collection of cities around the world where nothing is ever discarded, everything is recycled. Bicycles are king with a few small, alternative fuel vehicles in service. Food is grown in high rises using recycled materials. Tech is used to help in all aspects of life. People even share lawnmowers (why does every family with a lawn need a lawnmower they only use a couple of hours a week?). Like most good sci fi, there is lots of food for thought. There is also some good entertainment! I would rate all the stories at least 3 stars and would probably give Scalzi's 5 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    LaShawn

    I got this audiobook a few years ago when it was free on Audible to introduce this series. I've just gotten around to listening to it. The first two stories are the most intensely boring stories I have ever forced myself to finish. I fell asleep listening to both. The third starts off ok and then goes absolutely nowhere. I didn't finish the fifth, as it was boring and I was fed up. Story number four, by John Scalzi, was the only thing that was worth reading in this collection. It actually made me w I got this audiobook a few years ago when it was free on Audible to introduce this series. I've just gotten around to listening to it. The first two stories are the most intensely boring stories I have ever forced myself to finish. I fell asleep listening to both. The third starts off ok and then goes absolutely nowhere. I didn't finish the fifth, as it was boring and I was fed up. Story number four, by John Scalzi, was the only thing that was worth reading in this collection. It actually made me want to know more about the world that the five authors had created. It was interesting and funny, well paced, and had likeable characters. I give it four stars. That story is the only thing that made me consider continuing this series. Unfortunately, Scalzi doesn't write any more stories in the other books, so nope. I will not being continuing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hollowspine

    METAtropolis is a collection of short stories all taking place in the same shifting world. A future that in some ways seems all too plausible, our planet ravaged by our destructive culture, rampant poverty, mansions and skyscrapers left empty, but guarded and corporations struggle against green revolutions. The audio version had a lot of talent, actors from Battlestar Galatica read each story. That said it takes a bit more than being an actor to do good voice work. So, the readers were a bit hit METAtropolis is a collection of short stories all taking place in the same shifting world. A future that in some ways seems all too plausible, our planet ravaged by our destructive culture, rampant poverty, mansions and skyscrapers left empty, but guarded and corporations struggle against green revolutions. The audio version had a lot of talent, actors from Battlestar Galatica read each story. That said it takes a bit more than being an actor to do good voice work. So, the readers were a bit hit and miss for me. The stories themselves were hit and miss as well. It's especially unfortunate when the first story in the collection has me rolling my eyes, because that sets the tone for the rest of them, as Scalzi himself pointed out in his introduction. In the Forests of the Night, by Jay Lake, was a tidy bit of Gary Stu action. Tygre Tygre (yes that's how it's spelled, not Tyger, Lake even writes that in so as you don't mistake just how cool this character is) is a what you'd get if a pulp hero like Doc Savage had a kid with Neo from the Matrix. He's silent, aloof, Godlike and ridiculous. If you asked me what that story was about, well, I can only shrug. There are so many senseless scenes and lines that seemed only to say, "I'm so cool your knees are jelly. Oh, and I don't care." Also, ladies keep your hands off, because Tygre's a mans-man and if you touch him he'll snap your wrist. For what reason? Just because he can, I guess? The story was so sexist I wanted to puke. Not only did Tygre's pheromones reduce even mighty Bashar to a quivering fool, the only two people to escape his influence only did so out of womanly irrationality and jealousy and in the end, weren't allowed to do anything to Tygre, he could only be taken out by a fellow man. The only thing I enjoyed about that particular story was the reader, Michael Hogan, I only wish his wonderful voice could have been reading a story good enough to equal it. Other than that the stories were all a bit lackluster and there's not much to say for them. They neither annoyed me as much as In the Forests of the Night, which seems to have taken up most of this review, neither were they so great that they deserve much mention. To be quick now, the second story Stochasti-City by Bucknell and narrated by Scott Brick was interesting and a much appreciated break from the blah-blah of Lake's story. The story was delivered in clear terms, though there was some mystery to it, the characters were interesting and well developed (quite a change there) and the story was fun to listen to and well narrated by Brick. Probably my favorite of the book. Though, that said the protest scenes don't hold a candle to Cory Doctorow's. Third up is another eye-roller. Narrated Kandyse McClure, who...wasn't my favorite reader, put odd emphasis in odd places and over all wasn't the greatest. The story The Red in the Sky is Our Blood," by Elizabeth Bear had another rather unbelievable protagonist. Bear tries hard to connect the stories in the collection and in doing so neglects her own story. Why was any of the action taking place? Not sure. How does a California girl 'get married to the Russian Mob'? I'm not sure how and I'm not sure why it matters? Wouldn't it be more plausible for her to be married to a Mexican drug cartel? Also, why would only one shooter meet them at that door in the end? Oh, that's easy, because it's convenient to the story line, not because it makes sense. Which is this story in a nutshell. The reason driving the plot of this story is a bit ridiculous, and the characters follow suit. Fourth, another story that tries to redeem this collection of mediocrity. Utere Nihil non Extra Quiritationem Suis, by John Scalzi and read by Alessandro Juliani. I enjoyed this story of ne're do well Benji Washington who slacks off in school and ends up as a pig farmer in the zero foot print city of New Saint Louis. All the details, the mentions of other parts and stories in the world of this collection, were well done and worked together to create a tight story that included mystery, intrigue humor and most notably a very realistic and believable story line and characters. I enjoyed listening to Juliani's narration, though I didn't think he sounded much like he came from that area of the country. In fact, most of the readers sounded like they were Canadian to me, no matter where the characters lived or were supposed to come from. So, I looked them up. All of the readers, save two, were Canadian. Scott Brick, who read the noirish Stochasti-City is American and Stefan Rudnicki was born in Poland. Which brings us, finally, to the last story, read by Rudnicki, who did very fine accents, unsurprising for a professional Audie award winning actor. I enjoyed this story as well, it was perhaps the most interesting interpretation of this shared world, taking place both in the physical world, but also taking place in a (real) 'meta' world (and the only story to do so). I was invested in the characters and solving the crime along with the characters. It was a bit dizzying to follow them through these world's within worlds, but well worth it. All the stories together well, the good ones can't really counter-balance the long, cumbersome and poorly executed ones in this collection so I probably won't seek out the next volume.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kynan

    This is an anthology of stories that consider the approaching changes to our way of life (circa 2008) as a result of climate change. There's a lot of consideration given to the many different ways that societies will be reshaped, both positive and negative, of the physical changes that will cause political boundaries to flex and break and of the potential for corporations to take the reins for one last shake of the money-tree before everything collapses into anarchy. It's mostly positive, and th This is an anthology of stories that consider the approaching changes to our way of life (circa 2008) as a result of climate change. There's a lot of consideration given to the many different ways that societies will be reshaped, both positive and negative, of the physical changes that will cause political boundaries to flex and break and of the potential for corporations to take the reins for one last shake of the money-tree before everything collapses into anarchy. It's mostly positive, and there are some interesting ideas in general but I think that ultimately the format doesn't do the ideas justice. Nearly all of the stories feel like they were space-constrained and I think in the end the ideas that we see outlined here were followed up and done better by people like Cory Doctorow (ten years later) in Walkaway, or more recently by Toby  Weston's Singularity's Children series. I gave the anthology 3 stars after ranking and averaging up my thoughts on the individual stories. The sum was (2+3+2+4+3)/5 = 2.8, and I rounded up to 3. Below are completely spoiler-free thoughts on the individual stories. In the Forests of the Night - novella by Jay Lake ** Ehh. This felt like it was taking itself waaaay too seriously. I guess that, as the first part of this world-building series it's maybe trying to set the tone? We'll see. It felt like Forests of the Night was made of too many parts that just don't come together, nor do they fit the tone of the prose or narration (not the audio narrator, but the way the story is told). The story revolves around the appearance of some kind of messiah figure in an anarchistic forest enclave. There's a lot of first-person narrative, I think at least three different people, but as a whole it feels like it's being told from a very long distance, like an apocryphal retelling of a Bible story where things don't necessarily have to make sense, or be realistic. It was the messiah, of course he walked across the water! There is a lot of world-building that is embarked upon, almost like a set of sketches, but the different points of view that we see the story through did nothing to dispel the fog of ignorance and in the end, the whole thing just feels like a jumbled mess. It felt like there was a goal to the telling of the story, but the end of the tale left me only with a dim view of a world tumbling into environmental chaos, with disjoint efforts at seceding from the capitalist/democratic world all being ravaged by the death throes of the neo-liberal system. It's laid-on pretty thick, and, frankly, makes no sense, right up to the final nonsensical semi-religious weird scene where it all fades to black. Stochasti-city - novella by Tobias S. Buckell *** Now this story I was able to get behind! The contrast to Forests of the Night is marked by a different narrator and a clear depiction of the world in which we're moving. The politics are a lot clearer here, it appears to be unashamedly pushing the green agenda, and it does so with a remarkable lack of shades of grey! The narrator, Reginald, is a bouncer for an insignificant nightclub in a Detroit that is rapidly spiralling out of control as dwindling fossil fuel supplies make the urban sprawl an impossible luxury in terms of commuting power and the city reformats itself to allow the working-poor to continue doing their tasks. The tale is almost noir in style, told from Reginald's down-on-his-luck, tough-but-fair perspective. He ends up bullishly chasing some money he's owed, blinkered to what's going on around him and ends up right in the middle of a very interesting situation. It's hard to say anything about this without spoiling things, so I shant. Suffice it to say that this story was a lot of fun and a refreshingly clear story after Forests of the Night. The Red in the Sky Is Our Blood - novelette by Elizabeth Bear ** Scalzi's intro to this story was heavy on the praise for how Bear managed to tie "Red in the Sky Is Our Blood" into the story told in "Stochasti-city", how they prove the idea of having a bunch of authors attempt to write stories set in the same, very small, world, can work out really well and give the reader another facet of the story to consider/admire. The tie-in is literally a one-line throw-away reference to the major plot line of Stochasti-city, a reference does not a thread of continuity make! Anyway, that gripe aside, this felt like another story that had a LOT more to say and not enough room in which to say it. You can feel a good story-teller flexing her muscles as the story begins, but when the last page rocks up there's been no real plot arc. A bunch of things happen to a set of people, only one of whom we've really had any chance to get invested in. There's a cool concept, it echoes what we saw in both the previous stories: the Earth is in trouble, actually, scratch that, humans are in trouble and civilisation as we knew it is coming crashing down as climate change wreaks havoc on physical and political borders, resource scarcity drives capitalism into end-stage death throes and the thin veneer of humanity is rapidly stripped from civilisation. The folks in the Forests of the Night represented one style of "escape from civilisation" in the (proto-?)Cascadia as well as one set of the ruthless and self-serving capitalist "bad guys" in the form of William Silas Crown. Stochasti-city gave us the Edgewater Security Company (the "Eddies"), the muscle who are "just following orders" to keep the city from collapsing while the eco-anarchists try to forcible convince the government to turn over a new ecological leaf. This time, the bad guys are more traditional and singular or amorphous and undefined. And, weirdly, the good guys are similarly unclear. The concept of barter and reputation as at least an element of societal currency is considered but this story, the shortest of the anthology, feels just as rushed as Forests in the Night (the longest!) did. Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis - novella by John Scalzi **** This one I really liked! I'm not sure if coming in with low expectations made me appreciate this more or if it just really is a well-written and interesting story, I think it's the latter. There were a couple of things that I liked here. Firstly, as editor, Scalzi really has taken the extra steps to try and tie these stories together. All three of the previous stories are referenced in this one, tying them to the plot of this story in a sane and interesting way and perhaps even going some way to explain the craziness at the end of the first novella, In the Forests of the Night (I might be wrong on that one). Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the story is fast and fun, it's not heavy and overly-concerned with smashing you in the face with the whole ecological consequences thing (looking at you Forests and Red in the Sky...) yet it still manages to convey the same ideas, get the point across about the changes that are likely coming to our world, and why, and what's more I think this story did the most to make it clear that this is not something to be simply addressed in solitude, even good ideas may need some work and explaining before being unleashed upon society. This story takes place inside one of the arcology cities, New St. Louis, and our protagonist has reached the age at which he must take a job or be evicted for not being a useful part of society. As with most of Scalzi's works that I've read, the politics is pretty overt, but it wasn't heavy-handed and it very much felt like it was trying to show the other side of the story from what we've seen in the previous three. It was quite refreshing! Again, it's too easy to get into spoiler territory so I'll say nothing more, apart from: this was one of the two stories that make the anthology worth reading so far. To Hie from Far Cilenia - novella by Karl Schroeder *** The incredibly deep voice of the narrator, Stefan Rudnicki, put me off a little - but I was sucked in within the first couple of sentences and, to pay him his dues, I think Mr Rudnicki did a pretty good job of dealing with some interesting concepts like the cyranoids. Also, wow, Scalzi talks this up as a skull-cracking finale to the anthology, and it kind of delivers! The story starts with and a nuclear investigator named Gennady Malianov, our narrator, tracking down some stolen radioactive reindeer. He is rapidly embroiled in another, seemingly similar case and that case leads him into untrammelled investigative areas as he follows some truly bizarre clues. This story doesn't lean so hard on the environmental cataclysm, it's a lot more overtly technological and, to some extent, anchored more in the "now" of when it was published. There's a lot of AR and it's used very artfully to slowly pull you into a very interesting alternative society that definitely mirrors the ones that we've been presented in the other stories, but one that I think is far more plausible in our time. The concepts aren't "out there", they're not weird or esoteric, but they're nicely fleshed out and Mr Schroeder certainly has a way with words. I really liked the way one of the characters makes an analogy of physical locations to social networks: “If you shot a time-lapse movie of a whole city at, say, a year-per-second, you’d see it [evolving]. A city is a whirlpool of relationships but it changes so slowly that we humans have no control over how its currents and eddies funnel us through it. And if a city is like this, how much more so a country? A civilization? Cities and countries are frozen sets of relationships, as if the connection maps in a social networking site were drawn in steel and stone. These maps look so huge and immovable from our point of view that they channel our lives; we’re carried along by them like motes in a hurricane.” I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although I think it got a little too wrapped up in its own kool-aid toward the end, hence the three stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This book was not really my cup of tea. I suspect reading it several more times would make it more interesting to me, and that may happen. The narration in the first story was incredibly distracting. I am an Oregon native and it was really off putting to hear our local place names butchered by someone who did no research at all. There also wasn’t enough connection between the stories to make this a cohesive book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    This is a shared-world anthology, edited by John Scalzi (an opinionated and high-profile Young Turk of an sf writer—and no, I don't necessarily mean he's physically youthful; it's a matter of attitude—who has some fairly entertaining novels of his own under his belt) and containing stories by Scalzi himself and four other up-and-coming sf authors whose names you should be at least starting to recognize: Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake and Karl Schroeder. The introduction, by Scalzi, pays This is a shared-world anthology, edited by John Scalzi (an opinionated and high-profile Young Turk of an sf writer—and no, I don't necessarily mean he's physically youthful; it's a matter of attitude—who has some fairly entertaining novels of his own under his belt) and containing stories by Scalzi himself and four other up-and-coming sf authors whose names you should be at least starting to recognize: Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake and Karl Schroeder. The introduction, by Scalzi, pays explicit homage to Harlan Ellison's similarly seminal Medea: Harlan's World from the 1970s... but the shared world in this case is Earthbound and largely set in a near-future Pacific Northwest (well, and Detroit) after global climate change and the exhaustion of cheap oil have forced us to abandon our sprawling suburbs as untenable. The Metatropolis of the title and of the future is a tightly-compressed urban core where both farms and housing go up, not out, taking over abandoned skyscrapers to keep people alive and together without recourse to far-flung freight transport systems. Or it's a line of glittering new arcologies built along a ridgeline to take advantage of wind and solar power, with sealed borders tighter than any present-day gated community. Or maybe it's a sylvan, nomadic existence where thousands congregate under old trees while leaving as small a footprint as possible, using small, smart technologies to reduce their impact on the forest groves that they make into temporary but comfortable homes. Or maybe it's a virtual overlay on a real city, providing a more palatable view of one's often-unpleasant surroundings (an idea explored to great effect in fellow Portlander K.W. Jeter's Noir) and existing in the interstices of more traditional, slower-moving urban environments—a networked city distributing tasks to its citizens through anonymous prompts in the same way as Bruce Sterling's characters do in "Maneki Neko." Metatropolis means many things to the writers involved in this project, but it's rarely boring. Oh, the book does occasionally get preachy, and even creepy—now and then, the glee with which characters take down the old paradigm seems a little too enthusiastic—but all in all it's an entertaining and thought-provoking read. The local color, for this Portland resident, was very welcome as well, despite the changes that the authors put my town through in the course of portraying the city of the future after the death of oil. That local color shows up especially in the first story, Jay Lake's "In the Forests of the Night," but they all contain some fairly disturbing, plausible extrapolations from current climate and social trends. This anthology also made a good companion piece to read after Ian McDonald's Cyberabad Days, by the way; it's entirely plausible that what McDonald portrays for India and what Scalzi and friends portray for the US could occur in the same near-future universe. One extends the other. I think this book could spark some interesting discussions about what it means to be an urbanite in the 21st Century... a signpost towards more interesting times ahead.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Victor Carson

    I am not a frequent reader of futuristic fiction but a cooperative venture of five authors, writing five separate stories, linked by a shared vision of the future of several major cities, induced me to read METAtropolis. Also, I was looking for an audio-book to balance my other, Kindle-based, reading, and I recognized several of the professional narrators engaged for this project. Some of the five stories appealed to me very much, others not quite as much. All were thought-provoking while still I am not a frequent reader of futuristic fiction but a cooperative venture of five authors, writing five separate stories, linked by a shared vision of the future of several major cities, induced me to read METAtropolis. Also, I was looking for an audio-book to balance my other, Kindle-based, reading, and I recognized several of the professional narrators engaged for this project. Some of the five stories appealed to me very much, others not quite as much. All were thought-provoking while still being entertaining literature. Following the example of several other reviewers, I will offer a few comments about each of the stories. In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake: I liked the setting in the Cascade Mountains, the description of the city, Cascediopolis, established by people who think they can live in the wilds, use technology, and develop new environmental technology that will benefit them and other similar eco-friendly groups across the country. The hostility of the remnants of the U.S. central government and the greed of the remaining capitalistic society is chilling. The main characters, a hero named Tygre Tygre, and a hired assassin grabbed my attention. Stochasti-City by Tobias Buckell: This story features a small-time bouncer in a bar in central Detroit, several miles from his home in an abandoned house in the Detroit suburbs – a very difficult commute in the largely post-internal combustion engine age. The skyscrapers of the city are vacant but guarded by private security to keep people from repurposing them for center-city habitation. How this person becomes involved with a bicycle-mounted flying squad intent on capturing one of the highest buildings is well written. The concept of “twerking” (not the dance fad) to farm-out tasks to a large group via text messaging is also well conceived. The Red in the Sky is Our Blood by Elizabeth Bear: This story features less of the meta-city of Detroit than it does of the main character’s personal problem, as the ex-wife of a Russian mobster. Her escape from meta-Detroit to a cooperative in a former suburban office complex is interesting. Utere Nihil non Extra Quiritationem Suis by John Scalzi: This story has the most humor. The main character is a post-high school slacker in New St. Louis, who gets a dirty job because he must work or leave the city for the “wilds.” How he manages to be something of a hero is fun reading. The stress between the new self-sufficient city and its surrounding wild areas is something to think about, as well. To Hi from Far Celinea by Karl Schroeder: This story reminded me, a bit, of Reamde, a novel by Neal Stephenson. The meta-city, in this case, exists largely in cyber-space, except that the fantasy is projected on the landscape you occupy in the solid world. Your reality is changed by wearing a type of Google-glasses which project additional characters, settings, clothing, decoration, etc. The fantasy goes two levels deeper, however, It 2 and It3, which seem to pose a threat to the “real” world, partially by their levels of secrecy and hidden spaces. This story was the most imaginative of the five although fairly hard to follow, for a fantasy neophyte.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karlo

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Occasionally you get lucky and a book you read causes you to positively thrum with energy; you may even look at things differently when you put the book down. I'm not saying world or life changing, but perhaps a momentary wobble in perspective or thinking. It left me with a lopsided smirk/grin and itchy arms. This book did that for me; but it kinda snuck/sneaked up on me. Lake starts it off, and I was pleasantly surprised by his story. I didn't quite get if he was doing a run-and-gun Merc-style Occasionally you get lucky and a book you read causes you to positively thrum with energy; you may even look at things differently when you put the book down. I'm not saying world or life changing, but perhaps a momentary wobble in perspective or thinking. It left me with a lopsided smirk/grin and itchy arms. This book did that for me; but it kinda snuck/sneaked up on me. Lake starts it off, and I was pleasantly surprised by his story. I didn't quite get if he was doing a run-and-gun Merc-style story or something Techno-nomadic. He messed me up for a while in his use of names (I actually processed two versions of the story in parallel; one with humans, one with animals [echoes of Simak's City running in my mind:]). The image of a town that is functionally a forest; not Robin Hood or Swiss Family Robinson, but really with low to zero footprint was a radical concept. By the time it finished, I ended up with a religious/spiritual residue. Lake's use of cooking and food in a few scene's was very evocative. This was my favourite story. Buckell's story was more grounded in more familiar tropes; a little cyberpunk filtered through a recessionary US lens; a little anarchistic feel somewhere between Hakim Bey's TAZ and Doctorow's Little Brother. I really didn't see the Caribbean influence I expect from him, which was interesting. Watching HBO's Hung (guilty, guilty) also provided additional context for a city in decline. The re-purposed buildings were nicely handled, and the manner in which the protests were coordinated and staged was very new to me. Wonderful. Bear's story; complementary as it was to Buckell, had a wonderful cadence to it's story. The manner in which she leads us and the POV character through the rondel of the story was throughly engaging, allowing me to focus my wonder on the world Bear revealed. Scalzi's story was the easiest to digest, with his voice most like that of a Heinlein juvenile. I found it easy to follow, and the plot was the easiest to predict. It was my least favourite story, but that might be to due to my having reached a saturation point with regards to his style. Schroeder; my neighbourhood author (he lives about 10 mins from me) leaves me with more questions than answers. I, like the characters, feel that I've been led to a boundary of understanding that I cannot cross. I appreciate that he makes me question my concepts / structures by the end of his story, and also reminds me that sometimes in every model of perception, some things are dangerous. Great job folks!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jared Millet

    Dystopia’s been quite the rage lately, what with the overall feeling that civilization’s about to slide into an energy-starved, polluted, underfed apocalypse (see: the works of Paulo Bacigalupi), but science fiction isn’t just about providing dire warnings; part of its job is also to propose hypothetical solutions. Metatropolis reads as a semi-hopeful rebuttal to The Windup Girl. The authors admit that yes, human civilization cannot and will not survive indefinitely in its present form (it never Dystopia’s been quite the rage lately, what with the overall feeling that civilization’s about to slide into an energy-starved, polluted, underfed apocalypse (see: the works of Paulo Bacigalupi), but science fiction isn’t just about providing dire warnings; part of its job is also to propose hypothetical solutions. Metatropolis reads as a semi-hopeful rebuttal to The Windup Girl. The authors admit that yes, human civilization cannot and will not survive indefinitely in its present form (it never does) but the five authors also make the assumption that people Will Find A Way to survive and thrive in the future, and they try to work out what that way is. A lot of it hinges on “distributed resources” and such that sounds more than a little like communism without the charismatic dictators, a la Lenin or Mao. Jay Lake addresses the Charismatic Leader problem right away, but his personality cult – an overt Christ-figure – has the decency to inspire for a while and then get out of the way. In Tobias Buckell’s story, he introduces a couple of fun ideas: the conversion of disused skyscrapers into vertical farms and gardens and the idea of “turking” as a way of dividing complicated tasks between dozens of unconnected individuals who individually have no idea of whatever kind of scheme they’re a part of. Elizabeth Bear provides the closest thing to a weak point in the anthology with a story that rehashes some of the themes from the first two, yet is heavy on preaching and low on story. John Scalzi, as can be expected, brings the snark and delivers the most fun (and blue-collar) addition to the book with a story about high-tech, near-future pig farming (which I enjoyed all the more because I was recently made to read Robert Heinlein’s dreadful Farmer in the Sky). Karl Schroeder provides the capstone with a story that earns Metatropolis a five-star-rating all on its own, by proposing cities within cities and virtual parallel worlds layered on top of our own by taking social networking and MMORPG concepts to their logical next steps. Schroeder’s story in particular offers a world that I can easily see becoming a reality with only a little more technology than we have at present, but with a social order so alien as to make it seem like diving through the layers of reality in Inception while fully awake.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andreea Daia

    The stories of this anthology are rather heterogeneous in feel and content, though located in the same geographical area, which give them a common playground. In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake is in my opinion the second best in the collection and it is by far the most character-driven story, or at least as much as one can accomplish this task in the limited space of a novella. Tyger Tyger, the main character, has almost a mystical glow about him. Any moment, you expect him to do something The stories of this anthology are rather heterogeneous in feel and content, though located in the same geographical area, which give them a common playground. In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake is in my opinion the second best in the collection and it is by far the most character-driven story, or at least as much as one can accomplish this task in the limited space of a novella. Tyger Tyger, the main character, has almost a mystical glow about him. Any moment, you expect him to do something extraordinary, a miracle or at least a monumental deed. The fact that up to the very end, we don't learn his true identity, only fuels the transcendent atmosphere surrounding his persona. However we learn a lot about his interior dialogue and his emotional state. Stylistically speaking, this story is written in the most interesting technique of the entire collection, with the point of view switching between several characters and an omniscient narrator. What I found special about the technique is that no two voices sound the same - they have an individuality of their own like the characters they belong to. (4 stars) The next three stories (Stochasti-City by Tobias Buckell, The Red in the Sky is Our Blood by Elizabeth Bear, and Utere Nihil non Extra Quiritationem Suis by John Scalzi) are very similar in message and, to some extent, in content. They all focus on their authors' ideas of utopia (or what they consider the next best thing). They have a very activist vibe, all of them promoting a green(er) way of life. I think they are interesting, but they didn't hold my attention too well. The Red in the Sky is Our Blood by Elizabeth Bear has the most elegant writing style in the whole anthology. (3 stars overall for these stories) "To Hi from Far Celinea" by Karl Schroeder, the best novella of METAtropolis, brings a truly fascinating concept and an innovative cyberpunk plot. This story alone would be worth getting the book! Mr. Schroeder creates an (pseudo-)alternative reality so avant-garde that it left me breathless. I don't want to spoil anyone's please of discovering this reality for himself/herself, so I won't say anything about this concept and its hypotheses. The writing is matter-of-fact and the characters are only sketched, but that doesn't make the ideas of the story less powerful. (4.5 stars)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    I picked up Metatropolis as a freebie from Audible. Who can say no to free? The collection contains 5 short stories all based in a shared universe that was a collaboration of the authors. The world itself was interesting. The world takes on a city-state like appearance and is a bit more low-tech in the sense that the technology and power that exists isn't as readily available as it is today. There are also some environmentalist undertones with vertical farming taking a front row spot in the world I picked up Metatropolis as a freebie from Audible. Who can say no to free? The collection contains 5 short stories all based in a shared universe that was a collaboration of the authors. The world itself was interesting. The world takes on a city-state like appearance and is a bit more low-tech in the sense that the technology and power that exists isn't as readily available as it is today. There are also some environmentalist undertones with vertical farming taking a front row spot in the worlds agriculture. The first story is "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake and I have to admit I was a little lost. In a general overview the story is about a man coming into Cascadiopolis (a shared metropolis based in the Cascaida bioregion of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia). It didn't seem to really have a story and was probably my least favorite of the bunch. "Stochasti-City" by Tobias Buckell and "The Red in the Sky is Our Blood" by Elizabeth Bear are a pair of stories both taking place in Detroit and take place within different organizations that are on the fringe of society in Detroit. "Stocasta City" focuses on a rebel group trying to have cars banned in favor of the more environmental friendly bicycle and "The Red in the Sky..." focuses on a quasi-utopian society that quietly exists within the confines of Detroit. "The Red in the Sky" was one of my favorites. "Utere Nihil Non Extra Quiritationem Suis" by John Scalzi was next. The story was typical Scalzi in humor and tone and though I have a love/hate relationship with most of his works, I really enjoyed this one. "To Hie from Far Cilenia" by Karl Schroeder closed out the collection. The story is about a virtual reality within a virtual reality that overlays the real world. It was wayyy out there and a little much to wrap your head around, IMO. There is a second collection with six stories focusing on the Cascadia area and I'm slightly interested in it, but in no huge rush.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melanti

    The first couple of stories in this anthology started off rather slowly, but by the time that Elizabeth Bear’s story came around, I was really into it. The anthology does get rather preachy on the ecological propaganda at times (Bear’s story being the most preachy of the set), but that makes sense because all but one of the stories are focused on someone from within a society attempting to recruit an individual from without the society, and thus having to convert the prospective citizen to their The first couple of stories in this anthology started off rather slowly, but by the time that Elizabeth Bear’s story came around, I was really into it. The anthology does get rather preachy on the ecological propaganda at times (Bear’s story being the most preachy of the set), but that makes sense because all but one of the stories are focused on someone from within a society attempting to recruit an individual from without the society, and thus having to convert the prospective citizen to their viewpoint. I did like how each story independently built up the world a little farther though the stories had almost nothing to do with each other. One story would bring in a concept, like “turking”, and the rest of the stories would use it as well. My favorite was the last story by Schroeder. I love the idea of augmented reality glasses being used to play LARP games, and though there’s some problems with it as it’s presented here, I have a feeling that this is a very plausible application of the technology. A steampunk augmented reality game would be a blast to play, I think. My second favorite was Elizabeth Bear’s, which is the most emotionally complicated of the set. Katy is on the run from her mobster ex-husband, and working to keep both herself and her stepdaughter safe. Third favorite was John Scalzi’s story about a slacker teenager who just wants to laze about and doesn’t care (or really even think about) the zero footprint philosophy of his city. This is the funniest of the lot and the best at pointing out how the ecological/social philosophies in the stories would influence your day-to-day life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jason Hart

    This collection of five short stories was more hits than misses for me. I was drawn in after listening to the Scalzi story for free through the Audible app. The Scalzi story was entertaining and hinted enough about the world they created to lead me to listen to the rest. I listened to the Audible version. With a different narrator for each story, I was pleased with the performances. The first, In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake, had a compelling environment and set up the world well but I wa This collection of five short stories was more hits than misses for me. I was drawn in after listening to the Scalzi story for free through the Audible app. The Scalzi story was entertaining and hinted enough about the world they created to lead me to listen to the rest. I listened to the Audible version. With a different narrator for each story, I was pleased with the performances. The first, In the Forests of the Night by Jay Lake, had a compelling environment and set up the world well but I wasn’t that interested in the story. About half way through I realized that I had already listened to this one a few years ago... that’s how memorable this one was. The next, Stochasti-City by Tobias Buckell, continued to flesh out the world and added some interesting ideas around a reputation economy and a gig economy. Fun call out to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The Red in the Sky is Our Blood by Elizabeth Bear didn’t really grab me and I skipped over listening to Scalzi’s story. The last one, To Hi from Far Celinea by Karl Schroeder, was the highlight of the collection for me. I found the exploration of fluid, virtual communities very thought provoking. Also, the ideas around telepresence. As we move towards augmented reality, what sort of social structures will be formed? What sort of services or jobs will be made possible? This story really got me thinking about the possibilities.

  27. 5 out of 5

    G33z3r

    A passable collection of setting a future shared world. Civilization is adapting to the familiar collapse due to resource exhaustion and pollution and so on. The new model seems to be individual city-states like ancient Greece, but with more technology. "In The Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake I found the leadoff story to be the weakest of the lot, set in a future Portland to Vancouver megalopolis, reacting to the arrival of a new powerbroker. "Stocasta City" by Tobias Buckell A pretty readable sto A passable collection of setting a future shared world. Civilization is adapting to the familiar collapse due to resource exhaustion and pollution and so on. The new model seems to be individual city-states like ancient Greece, but with more technology. "In The Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake I found the leadoff story to be the weakest of the lot, set in a future Portland to Vancouver megalopolis, reacting to the arrival of a new powerbroker. "Stocasta City" by Tobias Buckell A pretty readable story finds a future Detroit finds itself under invasion/revolution from outside nomads from outside the city (an area known as the Wilds.) "The Red in the Sky is Our Blood" by Elizabeth Bear A nice, more personal story of what it's like to live under the radar within the new Metropolis. My favorite character of the collection. "Everything but the Squeal" by John Scalzi Mr. Scalzi gives his usual smooth narrative and snappy dialogue to the story of a slacker pig farmer in a walled ecotopia. My favorite story of the collection. "To Hie from Far Selinia" by Karl Schroeder The strange story of virtual reality within virtual reality, the non-geographic cyber community of the New World order. A little fuzzy for my taste.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a collection of five long short stories nominally themed around new cities, but I'd put more emphasis on the "Dawn of Uncivilization" subtitle than the main theme. For various not-quite-specified reasons--but clearly including massive environmental stresses--the state is no longer powerful, western civilization doesn't work, and people huddle in megacities trying to get by one way or another. The first story by Jay Lake I basically didn't understand the point of--presumably out of boredom This is a collection of five long short stories nominally themed around new cities, but I'd put more emphasis on the "Dawn of Uncivilization" subtitle than the main theme. For various not-quite-specified reasons--but clearly including massive environmental stresses--the state is no longer powerful, western civilization doesn't work, and people huddle in megacities trying to get by one way or another. The first story by Jay Lake I basically didn't understand the point of--presumably out of boredom and lack of attention as it rambled on. Maybe there is something of value there but I put the collection down for a year after that one. Everything else was good. Scalzi's is sweet and almost young adult in tone. The other three could almost be Snow Crash or Diamond Age Neal Stephenson in setting and plot. Buckell & Bear's entries follow capable loaners on the fringes of a society that is almost all fringes. The last story, by Schroeder, throws in virtual reality and is probably the most imaginative. I'm glad I didn't give up on the collection forever--the later stories are good enough that I'll probably seek out other things by Buckell and Schroeder, who I was not previously familiar with.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Flanagan

    Not one to normally read Anthologies I found myself strangely attracted to this collection of stories. The authors have delivered five great tales all based in a world they all had a hand in making. This book is very much a concept driven book in which the authors clearly articulate their goal and theme of the book. Each story builds on and around the others taking the reader on a tour of this new world. The stories in this book revolve around a future society. It is a society where whole cities Not one to normally read Anthologies I found myself strangely attracted to this collection of stories. The authors have delivered five great tales all based in a world they all had a hand in making. This book is very much a concept driven book in which the authors clearly articulate their goal and theme of the book. Each story builds on and around the others taking the reader on a tour of this new world. The stories in this book revolve around a future society. It is a society where whole cities survive in of the grid. Where secret worlds live within others cities and some cities can form and disappear within a day. Each story is unique but as pointed out earlier they all entwine together to deliver a vision of our possible future. Another aspect of the book which I liked was how the project leader John Scalzi gives us insight to the creative process and collaboration behind its creation. Overall I found each read entertaining and hope that some of these stories are followed up into more substantial bodies of work. So do yourself a favour and have a look at what this anthology has to offer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Not nearly as pretentious as the name implies. This is a collection of short stories imagining the cities of the future. The authors collaborated on a "shared universe," and then wrote individual stories reflecting aspects of the universe. The first story is self-serious and predictably preachy-- evil capitalism, global warming, failure of representative government, etc. It's uphill from there, however. We get less Self-Destructive-Tendencies-of-this-Depraved-Species hogwash and more objective i Not nearly as pretentious as the name implies. This is a collection of short stories imagining the cities of the future. The authors collaborated on a "shared universe," and then wrote individual stories reflecting aspects of the universe. The first story is self-serious and predictably preachy-- evil capitalism, global warming, failure of representative government, etc. It's uphill from there, however. We get less Self-Destructive-Tendencies-of-this-Depraved-Species hogwash and more objective innovation. The last story presents a geniunely new (and bracingly believable) way of experiencing both the world and personal identity. And of course, I feel that all fantasy/sci-fi ought to have a sense of humor about itself, and most of these stories do. This book may have earned an inflated rating by virtue of comparison to another book, though. Right now, I'm feeling very warm and fuzzy about plain ol' creativity and streamlined prose. See my review of Frank Peretti's Oath for more on this subject.

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