• The Good: Cutesy names of cities made of garbage
  • The Bad: Crude prose and storytelling
  • The Literary: Loosely based on the Great Pacific Garbage Path

Tetley Abednego is the most hated girl in Garbagetown. She makes a very big decision for everyone, and everyone thinks she made the wrong one. Her punishment includes being grateful for any cruelty inflicted on her, and at the end of each beating saying, “Thank you for my instruction.”

I like the extreme take on post-apocalyptic global warming plus extreme consumerism scifi, in which Earth’s survivors live on a huge Texas-sized pile of garbage, floating somewhere in what used to be the Pacific Ocean, as all continents are covered in water. After the period of the great sorting, neighborhoods consist of Candle Hole, Electric City, Pill Hill, and Clotheschester. Most people have a basic knowledge of reading, but higher science and math learning is lost, and Garbagetown resembles many modern-day slums.

This short novella is filled with some tried-and-true scifi tropes, including a traveling Shakespearean troupe, a technological object from the past that is so advanced it seems like magic, and a power-hungry young man who calls himself King and subdues his subjects with drugs, among others.

Unfortunately, I found the plot’s non-linear execution disjointed, the prose simplistic, the protagonist unrealistic, the world unrealized, and the themes unsubtle. There is no actual science here, just assumptions about water tables, communication satellites, and “futuristic” AI assistants that are largely wrong. Most of the story feels like an excuse to shock the reader with curse words and violence. Don’t get me wrong, I love those things, but the people of the story’s past (us) are casually referred to as Fuck-wits, and garbage is so abundant the reader (me) feels guilty just existing.

Great scifi makes you feel a part of something bigger, and if that something bigger is in trouble, is a call to action. Instead, I just feel depressed.