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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Windup Girl (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9322161,309 (3.75)2 / 408
Title:The Windup Girl
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:Night Shade Books (2010), Edition: (2nd), Paperback, 300 pages
Collections:Already read
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. 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!
  8. 30
    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....
  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 (211)  French (2)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (216)
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
A dystopia for our time: under the looming disasters of climate change and bioengineering for commerce and war, the action focuses around the treasure of an ancient seedbank hidden in the kingdom of Thailand. This book totally satisfies one of the basic requirements of science fiction, the building of a believable world. The characters are not so believable but are varied and interesting, particularly in their culture-based motivations and loyalties. A very interesting read, I enjoyed it very much. ( )
  JudyGibson | Jul 17, 2016 |
An entertaining read, although I would have liked to have understood more about how the world fell into the control of the Calorie Men. The only thing I struggled with (spolier alert) is that if all windups have the speed etc, why it took Emiko so long to break out of her training, after the experiences she had to go through with Raleigh... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
The realism of Paolo Bacigalupi's dystopia is undeniable. Gritty, depressing, at times sweltering, it somehow allows for shimmers of hope. Or is that a mirage amidst the sweltering climes of 22nd Century Bangkok? What I know for sure: Emiko. Hock Seng. Anderson. Kanya. Jaidee. Characters I'll always remember. ( )
  apomonis | Jun 2, 2016 |
The Windup Girl has such a complex setting I honestly can't summarize it without feeling like I'm doing it an injustice. It's a bleak dystopia with global energy and food shortages, which happened when all the major farming corporations rendered their product sterile through genetic modifications as a means to corner the market. Now people look at the world in the form of calories, a walk across the street might not be worth the calorie expense, and the world is fueled by elephants and wound springs.

That is a gross simplification, and I can do no better with the characters. There are several, from all walks of life, just trying to get by in this world. Anderson runs a spring factory, winding up the springs that propel bikes, boats, and anything else that requires power. Hock Seng is an Asian man who works in his factory, a once-rich trader who now lives in the Yellow Card slums. Jaidee and Kanya are White Shirts, the local equivalent of an over-zealous police force. Then there is Emiko, who is a windup girl - an ultra-realistic Japanese-produced robot (of a sort) who would be mulched by the White Shirts if they ever found her out.

None of these characters are perfect. Other than Emiko, some people may have a problem finding a character to like, as all of them have ambiguous morals. That's exactly what I liked about it, though. It's a desperate time, and there are no virtuous heroes here. The plot is the same way, in that it meanders and plods along, and considering the vast majority of modern literature is predicated on plot and character-fandom, I'm surprised the book is as popular as it is. With that said, I personally adored the novel. It's complex, it's multi-dimensional, and maybe a little overwhelming at fist, but in the end I found it intensely satisfying, and I think it'll stick with me for awhile.

Note: The edition I read also had two short stories associated with the book. "The Calorie Man" and "Yellow Card Man." The first one is great, and would also get 5-stars individually, but Yellow Card Man was somewhat predictable. ( )
  Ape | May 27, 2016 |

Anderson Lake owns the SpringLife factory, but it is only a cover for his true mission, locating the Thai seedbank. His employee, Hock Seng, embezzles from the company as he plots to steal the blueprints for the king springs they manufacture. Emiko, a windup girl who works as a sex slave for Raleigh, tells Anderson what one of her customers told her about the seedbank and Gi Bu Sen, and Anderson tells her about the village in the north filled with New People after which Emiko dreams of escaping to the village. Hock Seng makes a deal with the Dung Lord to sell him the blueprints because he failed to bribe the officials to import the necessary equipment to fix the factory.

Jaidee inspects the shipment and destroys the contraband which displeases many important people who have his wife kidnapped. Jaidee makes a public apology and accepts a demotion, but when he learns his wife is dead, he infiltrates the Trade Ministry where he is captured and murdered. His body is deposited on the front steps of the Environment Ministry, causing an uprising among the white shirts, and Kanya is appointed as his replacement. When Mai finds a new plague in the factory, Hock Seng orders her to hide it, yet he helps her escape when the enraged white shirts invade the building.

Meanwhile, Anderson and Carlyle negotiate with Akkarat for access to the seedbank, and Anderson becomes infatuated with Emiko. Kanya learns about the plague and seeks aid from Gi Bu Sen. During Anderson's negotiations with the Somdet Chaopraya, he introduces the official to Emiko, but when the Somdet Chaopraya's acts prove too humiliating, Emiko kills him and eight others before seeking refuge with Anderson. Akkarat assumes that Emiko is a military windup, blames Pracha and uses it as an excuse to wage civil war. When Kanya learns of this plan, she investigates, learning that Emiko is not a military windup, yet Akkarat still blames Pracha, wages war and kills the highest ranking officials in the Environment Ministry, leaving Kanya as the ranking officer. After the Dung Lord's men steal the kink-spring blueprints, Hock Seng captures Emiko to hold for ransom; Anderson negotiates with Hock Seng, offering him AgriGen's patronage to release Emiko.

Having killed General Pracha and the other leaders of the Environment Ministry, Akkarat appoints Kanya as the head of the Ministry, and he grants seedbank access to the farang; however, Kanya disagrees with his decision and kills the farang before moving the seedbank to a safer location and destroying the levees to flood Bangkok. She and the Queen then relocate the citizens to Ayutthaya where Kanya becomes the new Tiger, and the Queen rules without a Somdet Chaopraya. Akkarat becomes a monk to atone for his failure to protect the city, and Emiko nurses Anderson until his death from the new plague. She lives alone in the city until Gibbons visits and promises to use Emiko's genes to create a fertile race of New People, fulfilling Emiko's dream of living with her own kind. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 211 (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 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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"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)

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