Sunday 27 May 2018

Review: The People of Sand and Slag by Paolo Bacigalupi

The People of Sand and Slag The People of Sand and Slag by Paolo Bacigalupi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short story is available on the author's blog

It envisages a future when mankind is no longer vulnerable to disease and injury thanks to having been augmented and adjusted by "weeviltech" implants. Living in a wasteland, eating sand and slag. Gone is much of what today makes us human. The first part of this story could be any sci-fi military operation, hunting down the "hostile". but then the crew find a dog, a real live unaugmented dog. They are not even sure what it is, how could it survive in such a habitat? As they wait for the scientist to come to establish it is a dog, they begin to understand how vulnerable an unaugmented animal is. ****SPOILER ALERT ****The scientist confirms "it's quite certainly a real dog. But wat on Earth would I do with it?" He held up a vial of blood. "We have the DNA. A live one is hardly worth keeping around" and when the crewe ask what they are supposed to do with it, he replies "Turn it back to your pits. Or you could eat it....I understand it was a real delicacy. There are recipes for cooking animals." . They decide to keep it, It intrigues them. The discover it can learn tricks, obey commands, and display affection. But it is not a happy ending for the dog, it is too fragile, required too much attention, and was too expensive to keep. Ultimately however it is the humans one feels for left with the memory of "when the dog licked my face and hauled its shaggy bulk onto my bed, and I remember its warm breathing beside me, and sometimes, I miss it."

ashramblings review 3* I'm not a great lover of war stories full of references to military tech and manoeuvres whether in the sci-fi arena or not. So the first part of this story is a difficult read for me heavy as it is on the soldiering aspects, but when the twist comes it transforms into a story about what consitutes being human juxtaposing the flimsiness of flesh and blood with regenerative augmented imortality.

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