This volume is the prose edition of the audio book(nominated for a Hugo for best dramatic presentation) edited by John Scalzi and available from Amazon as a CD or download. It features five novelettes by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, and Karl Schroeder set in a sort of shared world anthology. There’s no overlapping characters, only themes and concepts the five worked out together.
METATROPOLIS is a world of the future. There are no aliens here or fantastic inventions to make life wonderful for its inhabitants. It’s a world evolved from today’s excesses carried to what seems the logical progression from things happening today.
There’s no mining of natural resources, instead people dig through landfills for discarded items that might be refurbished. You see, manufacturing is done. Global warming has changed the landscape, the lower American lands almost uninhabitable. New Orleans and Miami are gone, the southwest is extremely dry.
The cities in the north have become self-contained, those that survived, wall off in some instances, with entry strictly controlled, from the wilds(former suburban areas).
One story is set in the Pacific Northwest, a green city stretching from Portland into Canada. A man enters who’s mission is unclear, later an assassin is sent in to take him out.
Another has a bouncer just trying to make an extra buck caught up in a new kind of urban revolution. A bicycle courier on the run with her stepdaughter from her Russian mobster husband gets a lesson in who to trust(these last two set in Detroit).
A young man in New St Louis learns the folly of just doing enough to get by in school. He delays his aptitude tests until the last minute. Everyone must work and if you haven’t taken the tests by age twenty, you’re expelled from the city into the wilds. He learns he’s only qualified for two jobs despite the fact that his mother is city administrator: shit shoveler or pig farmer(not much better in his mind).
A weapons investigator takes an assignment to find missing plutonium and gets hooked into an advanced role playing game unlike any he’s seen before, then discovers another deeper within that one, with a third hinted at. All in pursuit of that plutonium.
I enjoyed the book, although one of the stories I didn’t much care for. I won’t say which because I’m certain another person reading it will likely come to a different interpretation.
It’s an offering from those fine folks at Subterranean Press, small press publishers of science fiction and fantasy.