Metatropolis: Cascadia edited by Jay Lake
Metatropolis: Cascadia was written and produced as an audiobook anthology and released through Audible Books. It is the sequel to Metatropolis, the first book of stories that was written as an audiobook rather than for paper format. Edited by John Scalzi, Metatropolis focuses on stories in the near future after the United States has functionally fallen apart.
The area Jay Lake created in Metatropolis is the environmental friendly area of Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest – Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia. Metatropolis: Cascadia focuses on that region about 30 – 40 years later. Four of the original authors return to Cascadia to enrich the possible future. Each story in the collection focused on survival after the fall of our current civilization and the Green Movement that took firm root in Cascadia. Yet technology is more sophisticated and abundant.
The stories start with a wealthy elderly man who is dying. He discovers part of his money has been funding a green movement when politically he had always been a capitalist. William Silas Crown is once again searching for Tyger and Bashar – to finally tie up loose ends from the collapse of Cascadiopolis 40 years earlier. “The Bull Dancers” is Jay Lake’s follow up to his original story “In the Forests of the Night”. (Read by René Auberjonois)
Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Water to Wine” is about the struggles of an all-natural vineyard as it is being squeezed out by the local distributors. The powers that be are trying to force it to move and change its growing style – which would ruin their wine. (Read by Kate Mulgrew)
Tobias Buckell brings back his character Reg who is now a deconstruction in Cascadia. He is helping demolish roads and abandoned towns so the land can return to nature in “Byways”. Reg has a deeper purpose, though, that may be at odds with what he is currently doing. (Read by Wil Wheaton)
A private cop-for-hire comes up to Cascadia to investigate a murder that is tied to an illegal exotic animals smuggling ring. She is escaping a bad marriage and police partnership and using this time to get back in focus. The man she partners with is looking for the smuggling ring. In Elizabeth Bear‘s “Confessor” the two work together to solve more mysteries than either could have guessed. (Read by Gates McFadden)
Gennady Malianov, a Russian Interpol agent, is stuck in Cascadia after preventing a terrorism threat from being carried through. Unfortunately, his entry wasn’t exactly legal, so now it is difficult for him to get the permissions he needs to return home in Karl Schroeder’s “Deodand”. His help comes from an unexpected and shady person, teaching him life lessons that may change his future. (Read by Jonathan Frakes)
Ken Scholes’ “A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves” concludes the anthology. It is a warning of what can happen when a fringe group can become zealots in their beliefs. A private investigator travels to Cascadia from Washington D.C. to try to remove a young man from a Christian cult. How far will the group go to enforce their beliefs? (Read by LeVar Burton)
The other major appeal of this audiobook is the narrators of the stories. All of the actors were on different successful Star Trek series. Both the stories and the narrators make Metatropolis: Cascadia an enticing book to the current group of nerds. (Yes, that includes me – I’ve been into science fiction stories since I was around 10 years old…) Most of the stories are wonderful. One tends to meander a bit too much and the point of the story was lost on me (“Deodand”).
I haven’t read the original anthology. I found a bit a background given to me by another reader helped me understand the basis of the stories. Even so, these stand well on their own, separated from the first book. In this possible future, humans in the United States have gone Green and back to nature. That doesn’t change human nature, though, and problems and crimes still abound.
Metatropolis: Cascadia gives a compelling look into a possible future. Enjoy listening/reading to Jay Lake’s collection of stories about his possibilities.
Notice: Strong language