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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
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The Windup Girl (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,1542201,206 (3.75)2 / 420
Member:Erratic_Charmer
Title:The Windup Girl
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:Night Shade Books (2010), Edition: (2nd), Paperback, 300 pages
Collections:Already read
Rating:***
Tags:science fiction

Work details

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2009)

  1. 111
    River of Gods by Ian McDonald (santhony)
    santhony: Very similar dystopian view of the near future in a third world environment.
  2. 146
    Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Although Perdido Street Station is more fantasy than science fiction, I felt there were similarities in the exoticness of the world-building and readers who enjoyed The Windup Girl may also enjoy Perdido Street Station.
  3. 113
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Another novel about a dystopian future with strong environmental themes.
  4. 71
    Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (CKmtl)
    CKmtl: Fans of one of these works of Ecological SF may enjoy the other.
  5. 60
    Neuromancer Trilogy: Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson (rrees)
    rrees: Gibson's global world of dirty cities and high technology are generally more optimistic that that of the Windup Girl but the styling is similar and the weaving stories of people and corporate interests are similar.
  6. 50
    The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: These two powerful, well-plotted novels each give detailed, dark visions of two different cities in the nearish future.
  7. 40
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (bridgitshearth)
    bridgitshearth: I find I can't say it better than some of the reviewers on Amazon. Enthralling, riveting, compelling....
  8. 30
    Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (bridgitshearth)
    bridgitshearth: This book seems to be overlooked: very quiet, no flash or catastrophe, very down to earth vision of a future with limited resources. It's one of my favorites, ever!
  9. 10
    Mosquito [short fiction] by Richard Calder (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Two powerful stories strike an eery chord...
  10. 32
    Bangkok 8 by John Burdett (ahstrick)
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English (216)  French (2)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All (221)
Showing 1-5 of 216 (next | show all)
A story set in the near future Thailand where epidemics are rampant, killing people and crops, oil being scarce, corporations control food supply, and countries becoming isolated. It is a very interesting world that isn't unwholly unrealistic. It expands on current trends, extrapolating what could happen if things continue in the pharmaceutical, farming, and global warming aspects. There are a mix of characters from different walks of life, that really makes the world come alive from different view points. It shows both the fear of ordinary people, while others may try to capitalize on it. The writing is very good, giving you pieces of information at a time. This may make the beginning of the book hard to understand, but it is worth it as the story grows. This is a very original, dystopia fiction book that I really enjoyed. ( )
  renbedell | Jan 22, 2017 |
The actual future Thailand with its "steampunk" technology is quite interesting. A society where oil has failed, that apparently even the internet and computers have failed too. No cell-phones. Dirigibles have made a come-back and bio-technology has become a two-edged sword. Cloning and other scientific devices have created new strains of plant diseases and human diseases too, that keep scientists busy and are one step away from destruction.

Meanwhile there are political implications in all of this: We meet a corporate spy of sorts, Anderson who we later find works for a mega corporation, Agri-Gen, and further struggles with the Environmental Ministry and the other areas of Bangkok. Meanwhile political pressures lead not only towards civil war powder keg, but giving up the ideals of the culture for the disgrace of profit.

Sounds good, huh?

The writing style is what I hate the most about this book. The author introduces many Thai terms and lets the reader only infer their meaning. There's no second person, no third-person narrator that nods and knows these terms. Having a glossary would have helped (as Frank Herbert did in his opus, Dune).

Page 69: Balances on planks and slips past women sweating over steaming pots of U-Tex glass noodles and reeking of sun-dried fish....ones who have bribed either the white shirts or the slum's pi lien, ..."

Through inference I figured out the white shirts are from the Environmental Ministry, keepers of bio-tech and protectors of the rights of Thai (at least I think so, I may be wrong on that point). U-Tex and others have created disease resistant rice, apparently. I'm still not sure what "pi-lien" is, really. We can figure from context that it is some kind of low-life, bums, etc.

Writing Style:

Another criticism is the writing style. Every other chapter has a new character and you could even skip every other chapter to read through that character's adventures. Trouble is, you have to recall back what was said and there's some measure of annoying flipping back and forth.

Don't get me wrong, this could work in some books, but not this one.

( )
  James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
5 stars for world-building, 3 for plot. Averages to a 4-star book. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Kept waiting for it to get good. Hours and hours... wasted. ( )
  JudeKuipers | Sep 28, 2016 |
This is a hard book to review. For one it is a lot of grand ideas about the future packed in the book which tries it's hardest to immerse you quickly. A lot of info goes by pretty quickly, you are basically dropped into future Thailand with no primer of the world. You have to learn as you read. I didn't really have much problem here, I thought the book was well plotted and if you can just float along for a while you soon understand all you need to. Sure it's slow and leisurely in its pace but I liked that about it.

I felt the writing was clean and very effective, the characters had real true motivations and you could understand why they did the things they did. I like the idea of books set in the future where science and technology hasn't solved all our problems for us. The world is still full of the same people, there is just as much corruption and fighting, and the rich still walk all over the poor.

This is a really good book, although something still keeps me from a 5 star rating. I would still recommend this to people who are into future tales. ( )
1 vote Sarah_Buckley | Sep 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 216 (next | show all)
It is a reasonably convincing vision of a future rendered difficult and more threatening than even our troubled present.
 
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.
 
But the third reason to pick up "The Windup Girl" is for its harrowing, on-the-ground portrait of power plays, destruction and civil insurrection in Bangkok.

Clearly, Paolo Bacigalupi is a writer to watch for in the future. Just don't wait that long to enjoy the darkly complex pleasures of "The Windup Girl."
 
One of the strengths of The Windup Girl, other than its intriguing characters, is Bacigalupi's world building. You can practically taste this future Thailand he's built [...] While Bacigalupi's blending of hard science and magic realism works beautifully, the novel occasionally sags under its own weight. At a certain point, the subplots feel like tagents that needed cutting.
added by PhoenixTerran | editio9, Annalee Newitz (Sep 9, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paolo Bacigalupiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chong, VincentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horváth, NorbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacoste, RaphaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podaný, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Anjula
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"No! I don't want the mangosteen."
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Rien n'est permanent. C'est l'enseignement central du Bouddha. Pas une carrière, pas une institution, pas une épouse, pas un arbre... Tout est changement, et le changement est la seule vérité.
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Book description
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.
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What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits? And what happens when this forces humanity to the cusp of post-human evolution? This is a tale of Bangkok struggling for survival in a post-oil era of rising sea levels and out-of-control mutation.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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