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Excelling at Chess
Jacob Aagaard
The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on The Wall Street Journal Guide
William E. Blundell

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker - Paolo Bacigalupi This is another of Paolo Bacigalupi's distopian stories about those living on the knife edge of survival after an economic/oil/environmental collapse. It's engrossing stuff, though like his earlier work, it's not particularly pretty.Ostensibly a YA novel, Ship Breaker is relatively short and the protagonist is a teenaged ship dissasembler named Nailer, and while I liked it, I felt his Pump Six story collection and Windup Girl were more richly rendered. But then, you'd expect that to be the case. Like many YA novels, this one involves teenaged friends trapped in a difficult situation and pursued by a seemingly all-powerful force. That they triumph on the basis of a clever trick on the part of the protagonist comes as a surprise to no one, though I don't want to suggest this book's YA focus renders it useless to adults. The lead character's circumstances are harsh, and Bacigalupi does a good job of melding a post-climate-change world (the arctic ice cap has disappeared, oil has been exhausted, and food is scarce) with child labor issues still seen today in overseas sweatshops. Bacigalupi builds extremely realistic worlds, which he creates by extrapolating today's looming issues into a logical (if painful) tomorrow.Fans of Bacigalupi's work will like it (I did), and I'll probably buy the sequel. And I can't help but notice it would probably make a pretty good movie (everybody's gotta make a living).