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Bacigalupi and Watts to Collaborate on Depressing Dystopian Shared World Anthology

April 1, 2011

Acclaimed science fiction writers Paolo Bacigalupi and Peter Watts today announced that they are working on a new shared universe anthology.

“Peter and I got talking about how much we loved shared-world anthologies, like Thieves World or Wild Cards,” said Bacigalupi, “but were put off by the unreasonable optimism of their settings. We think science fiction is ready for a pessimistic future of bleak, uncompromising wretchedness."ť

Null Earth: World of Pain and Sorrow is a shared world set in a future where a resource-depleted earth has been conquered by the Null, an unimaginably powerful race of alien overlords. The Null rule by means technology capable of remotely inducing pain directly into the human nervous system, and through genetic modification of the neural pathways of the human brain in ways that not only make humans naturally subservient to the Null, but also render people incapable of feeling empathy or love. A small portion of humanity work as slave servants in the Null's advanced, impenetrable cities, while the rest live short, painful lives of grinding poverty and unrelieved misery outside, occasionally being tortured by the Null or hunted for sport.

“We already have an exquisitely written story by Ted Chiang,” said Watts. “It's the saddest thing I've ever read in my life.”

“Yeah, utterly, devastatingly bleak,” said Bacigalupi.

“We expect suicides,” said Watts. “And maybe a Nebula.”

Bacigalupi added that they had rejected a Barry Malzberg story written for the anthology for being “too optimistic.”

The first book in the series, Weeping, Despair, and Death, is tentatively due out in the second half of 2012, pending their editor's return from medical leave for acute depression.

(report by special correspondent L. Ron Creepweans)


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Time Fri 1 April 2011 at 9:39 am

[...] This time it was Peter Watts and Paolo Bacigalupi’s turn in the barrel. [...]

Pingback from April 1, 2011. « Whipped Cream Difficulties | [edit]
Time Fri 1 April 2011 at 10:03 am

[...] Bacigalupi and the bacterial colony formerly known as Peter Watts are collaborating on a new shared world anthology. “‘We expect suicides,’ said Watts. ‘And maybe a [...]

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