Reviews of “The Calorie Man” (2005) and related work

“The Calorie Man” (2005Text)

Paolo Bacigalupi (writer).

A future where genetic engineering IP has replaced fossil fuels, gunpowder, batteries and the electric grid.

Though it is harder-SF than the farther-future Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1982), the setting has GMO cats called cheshires, named after the cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and patterned after “The Damned Thing” (1894). Here, GMO origins are offered to explain the existence of cheshires, and a gene drive explains why these “invisible” predators are ubiquitous. It’s soft SF, but consistent enough.

As usual, Bacigalupi moves among the victims and the henchmen of his setting. It is clear that unseen corporate overlords have shaped it by wiping out non-GMO cultivars, but it is not clear why things like offshore wind power would also have disappeared. It feels almost like a one-note steampunk retrofuture, but it’s built on perfectly contemporary fears of Monsanto and similar agrochemical giants.

text fiction

“Yellow Card Man” (2006Text)

Paolo Bacigalupi (writer).

text spin-off fiction