The Calorie Man

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Bacigalupi, Paolo. "The Calorie Man." Originally published in F&SF Magazine in 2005.[1] Anthologized Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, editors (San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007).[2]

Novelette mentioned in Sandor Klapcsik's review of the anthology in SFRA Review #284 (Spring 2008): pp. 15-16, where he finds it one of the stories that "apply high-tech ideas in [relatively ...] down-to-earth contexts."[3]

Reviewed by Alex Willging, 21 August 2012, "Mr. Rhapsodist: Your Guide for SF&F Reviews and Reflections on Writing" in a series of reviews on the stories in Rewired.

The setting of this story is based on speculation about how society might evolve in a world where fossil fuels have finally run dry and an outbreak of famine has resulted in the regulation of food production [...]. With the lack of oil as a fuel and energy source, I have to give Mr. Bacigalupi credit for conceiving of kinetic energy as an alternative – specifically, the kinetic energy of coiled springs. [...].

Mr. Bacigalupi calls this story an example of “agri-punk” and it definitely counts as that as much as it is a post-cyberpunk tale. A classic cyberpunk story would feature a lone hacker trying to bring down the corporate overlords with a small but brilliant act of programming. That’s more or less what happens in “The Calorie Man,” but instead, the corporations are agricultural combines, the hacker is a geneticist, and the programming doesn’t go through the Internet but into the genetic structure of seeds.[4]


Also, review by Geoffrey Allan Plauché, 13 June 2011 in PROMETHEUS UNBOUDN: A Libertarian Review of Speculative Fiction [...], Featured Posts, IP, Reviews, Science Fiction, Short Fiction, here:[5]

This future earth is more advanced in some ways (e.g., genetic engineering) and less advanced in others, mainly owing to the lack of cheap and powerful fuel (e.g., people are reduced to methane lamps for lighting and powering computers with human labor via treadles). There are trappings of steampunk — dirigibles are mentioned, and high-precision kink-springs are the primary means of storing kinetic energy and powering engines — but the tone is decidedly not that of steampunk. I thought to call Bacigalupi’s style of science fiction biopunk but alas someone else has already coined that term for it; enviropunk would also be a good label.[6]

RDE, finishing, 8Jan21 [[Category: Fiction]