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The City Below the Cloud by TS Galindo #BookReview

In a city forever shrouded in darkness, Kalan braves the heights of the lichen covered buildings to scrub the invading fungi from the walls. What will be discovered when the secrets of The City Below the Cloud come for them?

A dystopian cyberpunk novella that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew.

The City Below the Cloud by TS Galindo book cover

Title: The City Below the Cloud | Author: TS Galindo | Publisher: Self-published | Pub. Date: 14 September 2019 | Pages: 71 | ASIN: B07XXGJ2LV | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Author for review consideration

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The City Below the Cloud Review

It has been some time since I last fretted over acid rain. Deforestation, the ozone-hole, and climate change caused by global warming, and plastic pollution, have long since knocked that contemporary anxiety of its perch. But as T.S. Galindo advises in this novella, “few things endure like fear and fungus.” Fungus is the other key feature in Galindo’s dystopia. The mushrooms feed off the acid rain, and they grow everywhere.

Kalan and Sett are orphan sisters, citizens of a city that makes “Blade Runner’s” Los Angeles not seem so bad. Fungus, the toxic Cloud and acid rain are ubiquitous in the City, and life expectancy is less than that of the Dark Ages. The only currency worthy of measure or trade is electrical energy. Citizens work or scavenge themselves to death earning “charge”. 

Kalan is an expendable human who scrapes (literally) a living removing mushrooms from areas too dangerous for costlier drones. When not clinging to life, her hobby is worrying over the wellbeing of her sister Sett who prefers to pay her way by scavenging, running with a cyberpunk gang. Each day or “cycle” is a challenge and so the story begins with a particularly nasty one. Kalan is losing teeth, she is throwing up mushrooms, and someone is following her. Her story walks us through the squalid city and to the society above the Cloud. “Every dystopia is someone’s utopia.” Someone is profiting from the hell that is the City. 

A novella affords only so much scope for character development but I was invested in Kalan’s story. Much of the dialogue is internal which works in this familiar context of human isolation in a crowded city. Disappointing is the treatment given to Kalan’s sister Sett whose own thread begins only to be brought up short and never expanded upon. 

Fouled Earth, dystopian cyberpunk themes are nothing new. Nor is the frightening idea that we are functionally enslaved to a handful of billionaires. “The city below the cloud” pulls these ideas together in a brief, tight, and pacy thriller, the reading of which is time well spent. 

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
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