Review of “Pocketful of Dharma” (1999)

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Paolo Bacigalupi (writer).

A vast biologic city, which other than its life support would then lie dormant as humanity walked its hollowed arteries, clambered through its veins and nailed memories to its skin in the rituals of habitation.

Thriller plots change little over time. Wang Jun, Bacigalupi’s Chengdu beggar boy, uses pepper to distract his foe, like The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) uses pepper, just without the extra step of Chauvelin thinking it’s snuff. As for the MacGuffin, it seems unlikely that Tibetan Buddhists and the PRC would continue fighting over reincarnation for another five generations on the tech level apparent in this story, but a Dixie Flatline of the Daily Lama is a cool idea.

There is more to this story than its thriller plot. Bacigalupi is already productively focused on inequality and its perspectives in extrapolation.

References here: Dorohedoro (2020).

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