The Windup Girl Paperback – May 1 2010
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR BY TIME, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, LIBRARY JOURNAL, LOCUS AND THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD, THE NEBULA AWARD, THE LOCUS AWARD, THE COMPTON CROOK AWARD, AND THE CAMPBELL MEMORIAL AWARD
“It’s ridiculous how good this book is. . . . Bacigalupi’s vision is almost as rich and shocking as William Gibson’s vision was in 1984 . . . I hope he writes 10 sequels.”
―Lev Grossman, TIME
“Reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s Blade Runner.... densely packed with ideas about genetic manipulation, distribution of resources, the social order, and environmental degradation ... science fiction with an environmental message, but one that does not get in the way of its compelling story.”
―Sacramento Book Review
“This complex, literate and intensely felt tale, which recalls both William Gibson and Ian McDonald at their very best ... clearly one of the finest science fiction novels of the year.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A captivating look at a dystopic future that seems all too possible. East meets
West in a clash of cultures brilliantly portrayed in razor-sharp images, tension-building pacing, and sharply etched characters.”
―Library Journal (starred review)
"When it hits its sweet-spot, The Windup Girl embodies what SF does best of all: it remakes reality in compelling, absorbing and thought-provoking ways, and it lives on vividly in the mind."
"Bacigalupi never slides into moralism or judgement ... Ultimately that's what makes this debut novel so exciting. It's rare to find a writer who can create such well-shaded characters while also building a weird new future world."
About the Author
Paolo Bacigalupi is the award winning author of adult and young adult fiction. His work has won the Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell, and Locus award among others, and been nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. His short fiction has been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and High Country News. Bacigalupi lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book setting is Post-Apocalyptic Bangkok, living on time borrowed from both the raising sea levels and the latest versions of food oligopolies biowarfare vectors. The world is slowly shrinking again, the initial catastrophic expansion caused by the exhaustion of the oil reserves. Nevertheless, the main sources of power still are, once more, beasts of burden and the weather.
Collapse of the economies of entire continents, chronic malnourishment, religious cleansings and an endless string of resistant terminal infections have pushed humanity to the very edge of existence. And yet, human greed and blind ambition still offer the impetus for the endless power-games that care not how many lives get trampled under its threads.
An American investor/spy after Thailand's only remaining bio-treasure; a shrewd and ruthless refugee trying to rebuilt his empire lost to murderous fundamentalism; government factions locked in a power-struggle to the death; and a seductively-designed Japanese Windup Girl that will unwillingly serve as the catalyst for the brewing explosion.
The book losses its 5th star because of its ending - and I will say no more to avoid any spoilers.
Other than that, a potent mix of William Gibson and Pierre Ouellette.
The story takes place in a pretty post-apocalyptic future Thailand, after genetically engineered food led to new strains of lethal diseases that completely changed the world. The story lines of different characters are cleverly interwoven and give a veiled picture of a highly corrupt and hierarchical society that considers "clean" food items and health regulations as top priorities. The common point between the American rep of one of the big calorie companies, his accountant, a Thai police officer and other minor characters is the wind-up girl, a human-like creature that fascinates and/or repulses everyone. Her actions and the importance she takes in some of the characters lives drive the novel.
I do not want to give anything away, but this was a great read, from the first to the last page! The writing is beautiful and solid. The world created by the author is richly detailed, thought-provoking, and sometimes, creepy in an unnervingly familiar way. I love this book and highly recommend to sci-fi fans, or anyone who enjoys a good dystopian novel.
In Bacigalupi's dark vision of the future, the biotech companies, or calorie companies as they are called, control the food production and use their power and influence to try to force politicians and agencies to do their bidding. One of these companies is AgriGen, and its representative is Anderson Lake, one of the key characters of the novel. Lake is in charge of a factory, but that is a cover for his real mission, which is to gain access to the Thai seedbank. Another key character is the title character, i.e. The Windup Girl, who is known by the name Emiko. She is one of those beings referred to as "New People" that were developed by the Japanese, in her case for sex.
The Thai society is also a key element in this story, as the politics surrounding the current child monarch queen shape everything that occurs in the story. There are the Trade Ministry and the Environment Ministry battling for power, and groups like the White Shirts who are a constant threat to anyone and anything which is perceived to be a corrupting foreign influence is a potential target for them. There are also the Green Headbands who never make an appearance in the novel, but who are referred to.Read more ›
Here's the blurb:
Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...
Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.
What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man" ( Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.
The worldbuilding was impeccable. I was fascinated with the way Bacigalupi portrayed a dystopian Bangkok and the rest of Southeast Asia.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Fantastic. Very much like a Phillip K. Dick story. The author paints a vivid and personal picture of life in Bangkok in a bustling future.Published 6 months ago by Jay Jennings
Boring . . .after resisting until page 350 I ended up reading the rest of the plot on wikipedia. Maybe I had too many expectations...anyways, did not work for me.Published 10 months ago by luther
Exceptional. Find myself going back to re-read several times now.Published 19 months ago by Charlain Shields
This guy can write. Check out THE DROWNED CITIES which is even better.Published 19 months ago by Scissorpaws
A complex, well charactered, semi-apocalyptic potential future. Extrapolates many of the current geopolitical, environmental, genetic and human issues. No easy outs.Published 19 months ago by Joe Church
Set in a future time when the world's plants and animals are subject to an endless cycle of disastrous mutations has put mankind's food supply at risk. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Heather Pearson
Bacigalupi creates an immersive alternate future with ambiguous morality and twisted technology that is enjoyable to visit. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2014 by Craig Jenkins
The story is tedious, pretentious and a bit distasteful. But the real undoing is that in every exchange of dialogue, the only adjectives used to describe the characters are... Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2013 by Sixtyliner
An overall good read, although the title is a bit misleading focal point.
Bacigalupi provides a solid science fiction with a perspective on the world after global... Read more