Link to Original Story: Wilderness - JP
Not one of my greatest, but I hope it’s fun to read. I really can’t tell if it’s clever or stupid (such a fine line, really). I was reading Parasite Rex at the time, which is a marvelous book if you haven’t read it; I always thought that if I hadn’t pursued my current profession, I would have become a parasitologist. Of course, if you know my current profession, you might think there isn’t much difference. Anyway, the idea of the universe within being such a distinct environment, an ecosystem all on its own, was just too prevalent in my thoughts to not use on this pitch, regardless of whether or not its been done before. Add to that a rather heated debate between Pa, C and I concerning urban sprawl, and this is what you get.
Okay, I'll admit it - this is a derivative story. It's kind of like Fantastic Voyage meets Sound of Distant Thunder, with a light glaze of Atlas Shrugged in sarcasm sauce. Those are all great stories in their own right (though I personally loathe Ayn Rand's pretentious uber-crap self-indulgence justification - reason drives the world, my butt). JP has put together something that also has a good message and delivers a nice read. It's not honestly that original, neither in its setting, nor in the notion of capatilistic elitist over-exploitation that it delivers, but it's still fun. I don't think every story has to come completely out of left field. It's hard, if not impossible to come up with brand spanking new ideas in this day and age. So you take a little of this and a little of that and mix them together into something tasty. It's like a casserole made from Thanksgiving leftovers - reminiscent of something sure, but good and filling in it's own right.
For the record, I think JP actually does a better job than Asimov with the setting (yeah, I said it). It's visceral (hah!) and it gets you where you want to go. The bigger problem that I have is with his overall theme. Now don't get me wrong, I have a loathing for man's inherent greed, and anthropocentric destructivity that's a mile wide. It's just that I don't really think it's a particularly nuanced view that JP puts out. Macho plutocratic tyrants = feckless exploitation of nature. Yeah. We all agree on that, but it does ring a little bit of the cartoon if you get my drift. Simple lines and bright colors. On the other hand, it is a short story so what should I expect? It made me think. Not a lot, no, but it did make me think. Plus it was fun. Is that enough or is there some way that it could grow into something more layered? I don't know....