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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
3,5061971,513 (3.76)2 / 390
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. 20
    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. 10
    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 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 (192)  French (2)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (197)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
A very good book with an interesting world (amazing world building), I was amazed this is the same author as ship breaker (now I have to revisit it). My only complaint was it's lewd nsfw interactions,I get the necessity but I still hated it ( )
  Lorem | Jun 20, 2015 |
This started out fairly slow...and just as it began to pick up, I ran out of time & had to return it to the library. Would like to pick it up again & keep going....
  mfdavis | May 20, 2015 |
While much of sci-fi deals with hard, metallic, bleeping technologies, the genre occasionally ventures into organic-based techologies. These are usually idealized in utopian, peace-loving societies with a synergy between all the organisms and a Gaia temple in the middle of it all with nubile young priestesses of great wisdom tending a sacred grove or something.

Mr. Bacigalupi took the idea of a post-petroleum world that switched to biological-based technologies and applied real-world motivations and a(n un)healthy dose of worst-case scenarios. The result is a richly imagined dystopian future of ecological collapse. While other authors tend to fall into the genre trap of painting ecological collapse with a barren world, Mr. Bacigulpi paints his picture in the tropics with emergent, but invasive, life forms and ever-threatening disease and plague, both natural and man-made.

The author's dark future with quick cuts and incompletely developed characters has a definite William Gibson feel to it. Like Gibson's stories, all the characters are distant, both from each other and the reader. As such, readers who prefer a more emotional impact in their stories may find the story lacking and the plot a bit thin.

The story itself is maybe only 3 stars, but as an act of imagination and creation, it gets 4 stars. ( )
  Hae-Yu | May 12, 2015 |
He did a wonderful job of world building, and brought us into it through the eyes of amazing characters! All of them three-dimensional, with strengths and weaknesses that were drawn out through circumstance and familiarity as we got to know them. They were from all sides, and I cheered for all of them, and was genuinely sad when they died and elated when they succeeded.
Set in Thailand after GMOs and big agriculture ruined the earth, the most coveted minds are those that a can crack genetic code. And the question above all is, should we have changed ourselves too? Oh, I love it. How dramatic!
10/10 would read again, even though the start is as slow as a megodont starting a up a power spindle. ( )
  ooshwiggity | Feb 1, 2015 |
Bacigalupi is a terrific writer of hard SF that is paradoxically retro. He calls his work “post-petroleum” instead of post-apocalyptic. The story-telling is remarkable, with a wildly unpredictable and successful twist on the classical trope of the naive Hero … raised in humble obscurity and unaware of his royal and/or godly origins.

From page 10, a description of a factory line:
“The line boss’ bell rings again. Workers step forward to align the cutting tools. They’re producing two-gigajoule kink-springs, and the smaller size requires extra care with the machinery. Further down the line, the spooling process begins and the cutting press with its newly repaired precision blades rises into the air on hydraulic jacks, hissing.
“….
“Num’s bell rings a final time. The line grinds into gear…. Workers crouch behind their shields. Kink-spring filament hisses out from alignment flanges and threads through a series of heated rollers. A spray of stinking reactant showers the rust-colored filament, greasing it in the slick film that will accept Yates’ algae powder in an even coat.
“The press slams down…. The kink-spring wire snaps cleanly and then the severed filament is streaming through the curtains and into the fining room. Thirty seconds later it reemerges, pale gray and dusty with the algae-derived powder. It threads into a new series of heated rollers before being tortured into its final structure, winding in on itself, torquing into a tighter and tighter curl, working against everything in its molecular structure as the spring is tightened down. A deafening shriek of tortured metal rises. Lubricants and algae residue shower from the sheathing as the spring is squeezed down, spattering workers and equipment, and then the compressed kink-spring is being whisked away to be installed in its case and sent on to QA.”

And from page 81, a heart-breaking description of a ruined world. Daily life has become so awful that spirit ghosts, or phii, of good people cannot reincarnate.
“Jaidee has seen these ghosts as well, walking the boulevards sometimes, sitting in the trees. Phii are everywhere, now. Too many to count. He has seen them in the graveyards and leaning against the bones of riddled bo trees, all of them looking at him with some irritation.
“Mediums all speak of how crazy with frustration the phii are, how they cannot reincarnate and thus linger, like a great mass of people at Hualamphong Station hoping for a train ride down to the beaches. All of them waiting for a reincarnation that they cannot have because none of them deserve the suffering of this particular world.”
  maryoverton | Jan 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
The book is set almost entirely in the City of Divine Beings in Thailand, sometimes rendered as Bangkok, or Klong Thep, its harbour area. After an environmental fall where sea levels have risen - the city is surrounded by levees - the proudly independent Thais feel under siege from the technology of a resurgent West. Gengineered diseases, deliberately created or not, abound, people live in fear of their (re-)occurence. Among other animals and plants, cats have been swept away, their niche overtaken by almost invisible gengineered creations known as Cheshires. In this Thailand anything technological is frowned upon and subject to bribery for acceptance. Machines - even down to hand guns - are powered by mechanisms known as kink-springs or, for heavy work, (this being Thailand) megodont, genetically modified elephants. It is a reasonably convincing vision of a future rendered difficult and more threatening than even our troubled present.

The windup girl of the title is one of the less-than-human clones engineered by the Japanese to deal with a worker shortage and known as heechy keechy by the Thais. She has tell-tale jerky movements, an inbuilt inability to sweat except through her hands and is conditioned to please and obey (spot the fantasy here.) On his leaving Thailand her original owner sold her into a kind of slavery where she is subjected to regular sexual degradation in the floor show of an exceedingly seedy night club. (This aspect reminded me a little of one of the narrative strands in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.)

The novel is by no means flawless. We have four viewpoint characters - not all entirely convincing - one of whom is killed halfway through and whose narrative is taken over by a fifth who is ultimately the agent of change. Perhaps she should always have been the focus of the relevant strand.

While Bacigalupi may have intended our windup girl to feature more prominently, and she does kick off the dénouement, she is more or less a side line character and not involved in the resolution which, rather than being about something more interesting, degenerates into a shoot-em-up civil war. In the early chapters characters spend a lot of time talking to each other. Later chapters do however become shorter and snappier as the action takes over. Despite its setting and several Thai or Chinese main characters it feels a touch Western triumphalist in overall tone but Bacigalupi's Thailand did appear well researched.
added by jackdeighton | editA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deighton (Mar 9, 2011)
 
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 editionsconfirmed
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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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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)

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