Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Feb 20, 2008 in Blog, Pump Six and Other Stories, Writing | 14 comments

Which Story Should I Post?

There comes a time when every author needs to admit that they need help. I have reached that moment.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been working on a mini-site for PUMP SIX, putting up links to reviews, the cover info, and most importantly, I’m also putting up some sample stories for readers to test-drive what I write. But now I have a dilemma. What stories to post?

I’ve already got “The Tamarisk Hunter” up on the site. That’s a no-brainer. It’s already on High Country News’ site, so why not here, too? But that doesn’t seem sufficient to give people a good feel for my writing. So I’m wondering if anyone else has suggestions for some best-tastic story I could also post.

I was thinking about “The Calorie Man” because it’s got so many different extrapolations, and seems representative of the collection’s sensibilities, but then I was thinking that “The People of Sand and Slag” might be good, because I liked the philosophical questions it plays with, and then there’s “The Fluted Girl” with its creepy imagery and media stars. Or maybe something else?

The only one that’s off limits is the new original “Pump Six”, because I want to give the cool folks who pony up cash for the collection to have something special of their own (and to make the guys at Night Shade happy), but everything else is up for grabs. So I’m wondering if other people have any opinions? Let me know in the comments section. Help some poor story fly free!

Here’s the list of candidates, with “The Tamarisk Hunter” and “Pump Six” set aside:
Pocketful of Dharma
The Fluted Girl
The People of Sand and Slag
The Pasho
The Calorie Man
Pop Squad
Yellow Card Man
Small Offerings (only available in the signed limited edition, but maybe here online, also?)


  1. This is an easy one – “Small Offerings.”

  2. I’d love for Small Offerings to be posted, since it’ll be hard to find otherwise!

    Less selfishly, I think I’d probably go for The Fluted Girl, because it’s beautiful and disturbing, but a little more uplifting and less nihilistic in the end than some of the others. It’s the first story of yours I read, and most certainly bestowed a lot of credit for you in my branch of the Bank of Reader Trust :)
    I’ve loved everything else I’ve read btw, but it’s possible The Fluted Girl would draw more people in if they haven’t read you yet…!

  3. My vote is for “The People of Sand and Slag,” as I’ve heard a lot about it, but not yet been able to read it.

  4. My first reaction was “The Calorie Man”! With a glad cry and an exclamation point, because I love that story so much.

    But on reflection I leaned toward “The People of Sand and Slag” because I think it’s easily accessible, maybe as accessible as “The Tamarisk Hunter,” while managing to be both emotionally satisfying and disturbing. No easy feat.

    Then I saw “Small Offerings” and thought, “Yeah, yeah, that’s the right one… BECAUSE I HAVEN’T READ IT YET.”

    So the obvious and only answer is “Pocketful of Dharma.”

    Not just because it’s your first story. But because you can link it to the interview where you talk about the way Harlan Ellison called you up after it was published. (And maybe even edit it to fix that pesky repeated word.) And then the interview — besides being a great anecdote and giving background for the story — will also make people want to read the rest of your book. Thus accomplishing the goal of putting your stories online.

    And I’ll just have to read “Small Offerings” in my owm copy of the book.

  5. Going with the best story theory, go with The Calorie Man. Sand and Slag as a second choice.

    I’d agree with the others that selfishly the ones I am not going to get any other way, ever, would be cool, too, but you could do that sometime in the future when everyone’s wallets have been lightened that are going to be. ;)

  6. I’d love for Small Offerings to be posted, since it’ll be hard to find otherwise!


  7. I sense that Lou’s head is about to explode.


    I probably should have been clearer that “Small Offerings” originally appeared in Fast Forward 1. So there is actually another way to get hold of it. You’d also get an Ian McDonald story, an Elizabeth Bear story, a Paul Di Filippo story, a Robert Charles Wilson story…

  8. Heh.

    We have a copy of Fast Forward sitting around here somewhere. I haven’t read it yet and didn’t realize “Small Offerings” was in it. Bad me.

    Sorry, Lou.

    Maybe I should bump that up the to-read pile ahead of Pump Six….

  9. Heh. If you’ve got it, definitely check it out. There’s good stuff in there. And I’d be curious to hear your response to “Small Offerings.” It’s the shortest story I’ve ever written: 3000 words. Because it’s so short, I had to fight to get everything I wanted into the piece. Major exercise in winnowing down to the bone.

  10. I haven’t read all of your stuff (so I’m looking forward to the book), but I’d have to vote for “The People of Sand and Slag” because in a reasonably short amount of time it punches the reader in the gut and lets people know what to expect from you.

  11. Selfishly, I’d go for “Small Offerings” as well. But I’d actually go for “The People of Sand and Slag”, for the same reason as Matthew.

    “The Calorie Man” would be a fine choice, but it’s also your award-winner. If people quite like “Sand and Slag”, they have an indication that the stories in the book are even better; if they’re lukewarm about “Calorie Man” they might foolishly decide they’ve seen your best. Hmm, maybe I’m too cynical.

  12. Re: “Small Offerings” – d’oh I was so focused on “available only in the limited edition” I neglected to check if it was published elsewhere.
    So, revising and extending my remarks, I think “People of Sand and Slag” would be the best choice. PoS+S (that’s unfortunate) is your calling card, your breakthrough story – at least it was the story that added you to my “read everything” list.

  13. Oh! Don’t post Small Offerings. I already have it.

    Sorry Lou. I have all your anthologies, I think. Embarrassing.

  14. Okay, I’ve made some decisions. I’ll be posting stuff over the next couple days. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts.