“Pop Squad” — Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel, The Windup Girl, published in 2009, took the science fiction field by storm, winning the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards. He is also the author of the young adult novel, Ship Breaker, and several short stories, most of which can be found in his award-winning collection, Pump Six and Other Stories. In 2006, his story “The Calorie Man” won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and was nominated for the Hugo Award; in 2007, a story set in the same world, “Yellow Card Man,” also made the Hugo ballot. “The People of Sand and Slag,” which first appeared in 2004, was a finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

In a world rebuilding itself from the ravages of global warming, in a New York City whose edges are being absorbed by jungle, life is beautiful.  Floating above the monkeys and tropical trees, men and women make art, create music, and never grow old.

This is life after rejoo.

Rejoo:  it’s an elixir of life, a chemical rebirth anyone can buy.  It keeps the body slim and full of youth and pulls the stops on aging.  There’s no reason to die anymore.  A quick trip to clinic gives a person a whole new lease of life.

But just because there’s no mortality doesn’t mean there’s no crime or no police to reign in the criminals.  Our next story’s narrator might prefer attending the symphony, but in his day-job, he’s a cop who fights against a population explosion.

Because if no one dies, there’s no reason to procreate, and in a world still healing from environmental disaster, children are the new America’s Most Wanted—and they get the death penalty.

When there really is a fountain of youth, what price are we willing to pay for a drink?