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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RIDING THE EDGE OF DYSTOPIC BIOPUNK
This was the first book I read in 2011 and I can say that the year started on the right foot.

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...
Published on Jan. 9 2011 by NeuroSplicer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable plot/setting, very weak character development
MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW - INTENDED FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY READ THE NOVEL

The world that Paolo Bacigalupi paints in this novel is excellent. The concept of energy becoming infinitely precious in its own right, rather than as a basic tool of production, was especially fascinating. While most characters consider having enough food to eat to be a comfortable...
Published 14 months ago by Rook


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RIDING THE EDGE OF DYSTOPIC BIOPUNK, Jan. 9 2011
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
This was the first book I read in 2011 and I can say that the year started on the right foot.

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.

RECOMMENDED!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing sci-fi book, April 9 2012
By 
G. Larouche (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
This is an amazing example of dystopian sci-fi! All the prices and accolades were well deserved!

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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing read, Aug. 2 2010
By 
Patrick St-Denis "editor of Pat's Fantasy Hot... (Laval, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
With everything that has been said regarding Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, I was certainly expecting a quality read. Yet it's much more than that. Simply put, The Windup Girl could well be the finest science fiction novel of the year.

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. How the entire world is in a desperate struggle for survival against rising sea levels and climate changes, as well as the devastation caused by deadly crop mutations forcing millions of people to starve and die of hunger or disease. The author paints a very grim picture concerning the inevitable bleak future that our corporate and mass-consumption world will lead us to. The post-oil worl was another engrossing aspect of The Windup Girl, with power being provided by human labor and genetically engineered animals. Thailand, the main environment in which the story occurs, has remained more or less independent by maintaining an unflagging isolationist policy, which has so far enabled the country to stay ahead of the global agricultural corporations that control the worldwide economy.

The characterization is top notch with three-dimensional characters throughout. The Windup Girl is comprised of several POV characters, thus allowing the reader to see events unfold through the eyes of a number of disparate characters with conflicting agendas. Though Emiko, the titular character, often takes center stage, various others such as Hock Seng, Anderson Lake, Jaidee, and Kanya play major roles throughout the book. Witnessing the conflict between the Environmental Ministry and the Trade Ministry through the eyes of protagonists on both sides of the problem was quite interesting.

Although the pace of the novel is never brisk, Paolo Bacigalupi's sucks you right into this disconcerting dystopian tale from the very beginning. Enthralling, The Windup Girl doesn't let up till you reach the end, which should make you beg for more.

If you are looking for an intelligent and thought-provoking read, enter this post-globalisation world in which calorie companies control the economy with their manufactured sterile crops. But Thailand possesses a priceless resource that Western interests will stop at nothing to find: a secret genebank composed of countless strains of crops that could be used to combat the numerous plagues and perhaps help put an end to world hunger. And at the heart of this story lie an American calorie man, a Japanese genetically engineered young woman, and an old Yellow Card Man who lost everything when Muslim fundamentalists overran his country.

Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl is an absorbing read. It does for Southeast Asia what Ian McDonald's River of God did to a not-so-distant in the future India.

One of the top SFF reads of 2009!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Windup Girl, Aug. 2 2010
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
Paolo Bacigalupi is a relatively new name in the genre, but obviously one to pay close attention to. His debut, The Windup Girl, won first the Nebula for best novel, and then - just a few days ago - the Locus for best debut novel. It is also a finalist for the Hugo, and in my personal opinion fully deserves to win.

The Windup Girl is a "biopunk" story, set in a world where Global Warming has raised the sea levels and Carbon fuel sources are almost depleted. Biotechnology is the dominant science, and its forerunners are the "Calorie Companies" - megacorporations that control most of the world through the iron grip of food production. No natural sources of food could survive the engineered plagues and pests that ravage the ecosystem, and only the Calorie Companies have the knowledge and resources to stay ahead of unstoppable mutations, various new strains and their rivals' newest bio-threats. To add insult to injury, most of those threats are deadly to humans as well, and so people live in constant fear of plague and starvation.

The story is set in the city of Bangkok in the Thai Kingdom - one of the last countries thriving without the help of the Calorie Companies whose representatives are forbidden to set foot on its soil. The Thai possess an unimaginable treasure - a seedbank holding specimens of the extinct natural flora - and the megacorporations want to get their hands on this genetic wealth. But the triumvirate running the Kingdom - the Somdet Chaopraya, regent of the Child Queen; General Pracha, head of the Environmental Ministry; and Akkarat, leader of the Trade Ministry - are holding the threats at bay.

Into this tapestry are woven the stories of five characters. Anderson Lake, an agent of one of the Calorie Companies, trying to find a way into the seedbank; Hock Seng, an illegal "yellow card" immigrant - survivor of the Malaysian purge of the ethnic Chinese - who works as Lake's secretary in the factory he uses for a cover; Jaidee Rojjanasukchai, the "Tiger of Bangkok", an idealist captain of the White Shirts (the enforcement wing of the Environmental Ministry), who becomes involved in the intrigues between General Pracha and Minister Akkarat; his lieutenant and protegee, Kanya, who is not what she seems to be. And the Windup Girl herself - Emiko - a Japanese "New People" construct, the product of a race that grows its soldiers, workers, secretaries and geishas in vats. Called "Windups" because of the tell-tale stutter-stop motions built in their genomes, the New People are the spine of Japanese economy. Bred to be the perfect secretary and companion, Emiko serves her master unquestioningly, her whole being designed to be submissive. But when it turns out that a ticket for her return trip to Japan would cost more than for her master to just buy a new secretary when he gets home, she is abandoned in Bangkok - a place where her very existence is an abomination, where she hasn't even got the right to live, and where her extremely smooth, almost pore-less skin leads to constant overheating. Her condition is exploited by a man named Rileigh, who uses her as entertainment in his brothel.

Their stories intertwine, while building tensions threaten to drown the city in a civil war between the warring factions of the government. Bacigalupi paints a picture of an irreparably damaged world that tries to get back on its feet while malicious forces strive to control the lives of billions with biotechnological monopoly. After the "Contraction", following the collapse of Western Civilization, the time has come for a new Expansion, and the Calorie Companies would direct it if given the chance. But evolution has taken a new course, and in this ever changing nightmarish reality the only ones who cling to the old order are the humans themselves.

The Windup Girl is a warning environmental tale of what could happen after the depletion of fossil fuels, and where development of bioengineering may lead us. Not all technologies are overly believable (the kink-springs for example take some disbelief suspending), and most characters give out mixed signals to say the least (when they aren't outright scheming opportunists), but somehow it all works in concert with the magnificent world-building, making Bacigalupi's debut novel a brilliant work of Science Fiction, and one that really deserves all the praise it's been getting.

9/10

[...]
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genetically Modified Dystopia, March 26 2010
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Hardcover)
Windup Girl is the first novel by Paulo Bacigalupi. After reading this book, I have become an instant fan of his work, and look forward to his follow up. Windup Girl is imaginative, and extremely well written. The Thai terms, and some sci-fi jargon make the first few chapters a bit of a challenge, but once you get into the story, it moves along quickly.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! And has been nominated for the upcoming Nebula Award., April 6 2010
By 
Robert Blouin (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Hardcover)
Plot, characters, setting--awesome on all counts. A challenging read at the beginning, but the rewards are many, up until the very strong ending. This novel has been nominated for the upcoming Nebula Award. Past the first 25 pages or so, I found it extremely hard to put down. Couldn't find anything weak in it. I won't forget those characters.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing but impressive, Dec 29 2010
This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
I bought this book based on an Amazon recommendation so I had no idea of what to expect. The book is somewhat painful to read, as many or most of the characters spend most of the book suffering through traumatic experiences, but the quality of the writing, and the very appropriate ending make it worthwhile. A deeply thought out masterpiece.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and deep, June 23 2014
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Kindle Edition)
A complex, well charactered, semi-apocalyptic potential future. Extrapolates many of the current geopolitical, environmental, genetic and human issues. No easy outs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars worth the Effort, May 5 2014
By 
Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
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. Amid all this despair, farmers in Thailand are growing crops lost to the rest of the world. This has brought calorie man Anderson Lake to try and find the scientist responsible. During his quest, he is introduced to Emiko, a Japanese created 'New People'. While the Japanese embrace these creche grown beings, the rest of the world barely tolerate these windups.

Coming from an environmentalist background, I was most intrigued by devastation to the global flora and fauna. A little snip here and little tinker there, and soon we have a cascading genetic crisis. I wish there had been more emphasis on this part of the story rather than on the windup girl and the political crisis that developed in the country. The one thing that most disturbed me was the level of corruption in all branches of the government. Bribes were required in almost every situation. You want a package cleared through customs, you pay a bribe, you want to get the union to do the work they've been hired to do, you pay a bribe, you want to do just about anything, you pay a bribe. As distasteful as this process is to me, it was fundamental to the development of this story.

This story really has me pondering how close we come to this type of disaster. Currently the Emerald Ash Borer is devastating the white ash trees across my area of Ontario. Loss of trees in the affected areas will be 100% (unless treated). This is horrific damage from a pest that was accidentally introduced to the area. Imagine if these pest had targeted a food stock instead of a tree.

I found this book was a bit hard to get into. There was a new world to be introduced to as well as several sets of characters all with their own connections, ranks and priorities. Once I got past that stage, I rather enjoyed the story line. This is a complicated world that Mr. Bacigalupi has constructed and there are a few open story lines that could lead to a sequel, but as of yet, there is no hints of a follow-up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clever Science Fiction, Jan. 20 2014
By 
Craig Jenkins (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Windup Girl (Paperback)
Bacigalupi creates an immersive alternate future with ambiguous morality and twisted technology that is enjoyable to visit. Would have been 5* but in retrospect, i don't know that I felt a connection with the characters that grew throughout the novel, and (without ruining the twists) they don't all stick around to grow with.

More a compelling world and an interesting plot than a character driven or emotive experience. You can see that he has the potential to do even more, and that will indeed be a treat.
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The Windup Girl
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Paperback - May 1 2010)
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