Energy Extension: Paolo Bacigalupo’s “Pump Six”

This is a book review for Paolo Bacigalupo‘s short story collection “Pump Six”.

I got this as one of the books in the humblebundle that Cory Doctorow put together for the release of his latest novel “Pirate Cinema”, which I also reviewed on this blog.

Many of these stories are set in a future after global warming has reached more serious levels. And some of them assume that the fossil fuel is all burnt by previous, more lucky generations.

The “energy extension” is a term that pops up a couple of times. It means the present time, where humanity extends its power by burning through the fossil fuel reserves it takes millions of years to restore every year. One of the characters says he wishes he was born in that time. I can imagine a lot of people living a couple of generations later to wish for that. And I feel rather lucky myself to live in this particular time of history.

The world is not a pleasant place in most of Bacigalupo’s stories. There may be still time to get a somewhat better deal for the coming generations. For one, I didn’t notice many solar panels in the energy challenged story settings. It’s all muscle power.

The title story “Pump Six” is about a world of stupid and lazy people who have inherited some technology from previous generations, but are unable to do even basic maintenance, so it is only a question of time until everything breaks down completely.

I have no idea if humans will be smarter in a hundred years than they are now. They better be, though. There are some major challenges coming up.

My own global warming science fiction novel “Great News” is here (free PDF file).


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

3 thoughts on “Energy Extension: Paolo Bacigalupo’s “Pump Six”

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