Saturday, May 22, 2010
Ship Breaker a Novel By Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi just won the Nebula award for his novel, The Windup Girl. This is his second novel. He also wrote an excellent collection of short stories, Pump Six and Other Stories. This novel is a young adult novel, but after reading it, I think it will appeal to all ages.
The writing is extremly fast paced and suspenseful. I was glued to the book and finished it in a single sitting. There is a lot of swearing, violence, and some drug references. However, these do not detract from the story. The violence is not sensationalized, it is portrayed as being a necessity to survive, or as a form of hardness.
The setting is fascinating. It is a near future where the age of oil has ended. Empty oil tankers line the coastlines, there are massive hurricanes, and New Orleans is a drowned city. In this setting is Nailer, a teenage scavenger of shipwrecks who makes his living collecting copper wire, tin, and other light metals.
Nailer contrasts well with Nita a rich girl who he rescues from a shipwreck. This brings a life changing adventure. We travel by bullet train and solar clipper ship to escape the bad guys.
I like the technology, it is completely believable. Paolo Bacigalupi even makes reference to a Buckell cannon designed to shoot sails into the upper atmosphere where they will catch strong winds to pull a ship quickly. At the end of the book, he acknowledges Tobias Buckell, another one of my favorite science fiction writers for technical help.
This is a superb, fast paced, adventure novel set in a dystopic near future. Read it, enjoy it, tell others about it.