Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente

Tordotcom, ISBN 9781250301130, July 2021

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this one. No question it's well-written, with some interesting characters.

It's set on a floating garbage patch after global warming has wiped out human civilization, as the rising oceans has drowned the land. The people surviving call the garbage patch the story is set on Garbagetown. Brighton Pier, the actual Brighton Pier, has been equipped with engines, and is traveling, apparently, among various floating garbage patch settlements. Early on, Garbagetown engaged in the Great Sorting, and one result is that, whatever you need, you know where to go to get it--assuming it's part of the wreckage of the civilization now called Fuckwits, that collected in this garbage patch.

Our protagonist and storyteller is Tetley Abednego. She says she's the happiest person in the world. Unfortunately, she's also hated by the entire population of Garbagetown, including her twin brother. We learn a lot about the culture of Garbagetown and its various neighborhoods, along the way to finding out why she's hated.

There are other interesting characters, including Goodnight Moon, and Big Red Mars, .It's nice that we find out that humans did survive someplace other than on floating garbage patches, but there's nothing more to say about that without spoilers.

On the whole, this just work for me. I'm not much for post-apocalyptic fiction anyway. This is different in some intellectually interesting ways, but in the end, it just didn't work for me.

I received this as part of the 2022 Hugo Finalists Packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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