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Paolo Bacigalupi

Author of The Windup Girl

38+ Works 15,516 Members 852 Reviews 28 Favorited

About the Author

Paolo Bacigalupi won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for his debut novel, The Windup Girl, which was published in 2009. His short story collection Pump Six and Other Stories was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and his young adult novel Ship show more Breaker won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and was finalist for the National Book Award. His work has also appeared in High Country News, Salon.com, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Paolo Bacigalupi at the 2012 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States.


Works by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Windup Girl (2009) 6,244 copies
Ship Breaker (2010) 3,424 copies
The Water Knife (2015) 1,824 copies
Pump Six and Other Stories (2008) 1,137 copies
The Drowned Cities (2012) 1,119 copies
The Alchemist (2011) 332 copies
The Tangled Lands (2018) 320 copies
The Doubt Factory (2014) 317 copies
Tool of War (2017) 252 copies
Zombie Baseball Beatdown (2013) 214 copies
The Alchemist / The Executioness (2010) — Author — 50 copies
The Calorie Man (novelette) (2005) 30 copies
The Fluted Girl (novelette) (2006) 28 copies

Associated Works

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (2008) — Contributor — 1,556 copies
Brave New Worlds: Dystopian Stories (2011) — Contributor — 509 copies
Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology (2007) — Contributor — 390 copies
The End Is Nigh (2014) — Contributor — 284 copies
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales (2014) — Contributor — 254 copies
Epic: Legends of Fantasy (2012) — Contributor — 191 copies
Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse (2013) — Contributor — 187 copies
Twenty-First Century Science Fiction (2013) — Contributor — 185 copies
Year's Best SF 14 (2009) — Contributor — 172 copies
Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 (2011) — Contributor — 153 copies
Diverse Energies (2012) — Contributor — 137 copies
Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge (2007) — Contributor — 131 copies
Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories (2007) — Contributor — 120 copies
Science Fiction: The Best of 2003 (2004) — Contributor — 119 copies
Science Fiction: The Best of 2004 (2005) — Contributor — 99 copies
Wastelands: The New Apocalypse (2019) — Contributor — 90 copies
I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet (2011) — Contributor — 90 copies
After the End: Recent Apocalypses (2013) — Contributor; Contributor — 88 copies
Fast Forward 2 (2008) — Contributor — 67 copies
Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow (2019) — Contributor — 59 copies
Cyber World: Tales of Humanity's Tomorrow (2016) — Contributor — 26 copies
We, Robots (2010) — Contributor — 23 copies
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 72 • May 2016 (2016) — Contributor — 13 copies
Pwning Tomorrow (2015) — Contributor — 12 copies
Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 60 • May 2015 (2015) — Excerpt, some editions — 11 copies
Love, Death + Robots: The Official Anthology, Volume 2+3 (2022) — Contributor — 11 copies
Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction — Interview with — 10 copies
Vital: The Future of Healthcare (2021) — Contributor — 10 copies
Cities of Light: a collection of solar futures (2021) — Contributor — 5 copies
Futuredaze²: Reprise (2014) — Contributor — 4 copies


2010 (65) adventure (142) anthology (1,190) apocalypse (98) audiobook (87) climate change (113) collection (96) cyberpunk (74) dystopia (769) dystopian (265) ebook (376) environment (63) fantasy (570) fiction (1,760) future (62) genetic engineering (147) goodreads (108) goodreads import (76) horror (158) Kindle (190) novel (118) own (82) post-apocalyptic (411) read (204) science fiction (3,578) Science Fiction/Fantasy (100) sf (781) sff (188) short fiction (104) short stories (1,106) signed (94) speculative fiction (205) steampunk (156) survival (83) Thailand (191) to-read (2,598) unread (179) wishlist (71) YA (279) young adult (351)

Common Knowledge



GROUP READ -- THE WINDUP GIRL by Paolo Bacigalupi in The 12 in 12 Category Challenge (August 2012)
THE WINDUP GIRL - Discussion Thread ***Possible SPOILERS*** in The 12 in 12 Category Challenge (March 2012)


Done, done, done, I am done! Oh joy.

This was not the reaction I was expecting when starting this book. I enjoyed Ship Breaker, and then NetGalley had a fantasy novel by the same author, so here I am.

We are in a kind of Renaissance Italy, a Venetian republic/Florentine republic of sorts, with hints of magic. There are nobles and merchant/banking houses that embrace the mafia lifestyle. Backstabbing is a feature, not a bug. Sounds like fun, right? I liked the very first pages, and how Davico (a very unwilling heir to the most powerful mafia family, sorry, it was banking house) talked about his father.

“He liked to say that he traded in goods, but more in promises, and he never failed to collect.”

After that, the further I read, the more annoyed I became:

😡 There is a lot of fake Italian/Latin/whatever. I had no trouble understanding the stuff, but it felt grating, annoying, pretentious. This sort of thing went on and on: “He sought to play in politics, where the art of faccioscuro is both sword and shield, and he held neither. He imagined he could sit parlobanco with your father.” Me: please stop already.

😡 There are many irritating editing errors, the most I’ve ever had in an ARC. I had to reread certain sentences several times before they made sense.

😡 (They drink a lot of tea. Is it a nod to all the tea-drinking in modern sci-fi? Anyway, why are we drinking so much tea in fake Renaissance Italy? And why are their cheeses always described as “bitter”? This is a crime against cheese, that’s what it is!!!)

😡 Davico, I am sorry, you lack depth, which means that you are not well-written. (This goes for all the other characters as well.) You are also annoying. The constant self-doubt, a naïveté that is almost aggressive, the “I don’t want this destiny, poor little meeeeee”, and being very juvenile in general… I got tired of them all after almost 600 pages. Davico grows a bit of spine ca 80% into the book – too little, too late.

😡 Infodumps! We are bombarded with endless descriptions and exposition: the ancient philosophers of this world; pages and pages of their mythology; a lot about their herbs and mushrooms (because Davico likes them). Last but not least: immediately after a Red Wedding wannabe event we are treated to several pages of the history and workings of this world’s banking system. But why?

😡 So the narrative stutters, loses momentum, gets lost, doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a bad sign when the reader asks “is anything at all supposed to happen in this book?” about 30-40% through.

😡 Sex, sex, sex. Sex? Sex, sex, sex! I’m no prude, but the whole society seems to be obsessed. Davico is a horny teenager, but when everyone behaves and talks like teenagers, it gets annoying. The one steamy sex scene makes a dirty voyeur out of the reader, it feels like pornography. I did not feel the characters’ passion. I wanted to go wash my eyes. How was this done? I am mystified.

😡 As the plot finally (finally!) thickens a bit towards the end, there is a lot of blood, gore, torture, humiliation, as well as blood, gore, torture, humiliation. The book gets as obsessed with those as with sex. Ouch.

😡 I wondered why so many Checkov’s guns failed to fire in this book. Then I came to the end, and it was written in a very clear “let’s have a sequel, maybe?” way. Where is my closure?

My reasons for that extra star:

👌The dialogues were very well-written, I enjoyed them.

👌Celia was interesting. We should have followed her instead.

👌The magic stuff was cool. When it did appear, I felt that I was reading a different (better) book.

👌When Davico goes to a neighbouring kingdom to negotiate, his hosts decide to cruelly test him. The test involved a vicious war horse. That was a good scene.

Judging by other reviews, I seem to be an outlier. You might want to check if you agree or not ;)

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the free e-book!
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Alexandra_book_life | May 28, 2024 |
good companion read for Cadillac Desert
sarcher | 94 other reviews | May 8, 2024 |
It's not only the format (4 novellas, written by two authors, all set in the same world, during the same period) that makes this original, it's the premise of how magic works in this world and how that drives all the plots in these novellas.

All of the stories are about people in desperate situations doing what they need to survive and try to protect the people they love. You end up rooting for them the whole time, fingers-crossed, that things will somehow work out for them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. All the stories are pretty dark and one is very adult. Which definitely works for me, because I'm almost an adult (it starts around 60 right?).

My wife really loved this collection, especially after I tortured her by having her read The Three Body Problem. Luckily she dropped that a about 3 hours in and jumped into this one, so her trust in me was restored.
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ragwaine | 8 other reviews | May 1, 2024 |
This book was the February selection for our SF book club. Having liked Bacigalupi’s Nebula and Hugo nominated short story, “The Gambler”, I was looking forward to reading one of his longer works.

Despite the title, this is more a “biopunk” novel than a steampunk work. It is dark, disturbing, and allegorical. There are no real heroes but there are plenty of irredeemable villains.

Set in Thailand in a dystopian future, there is a global food shortage brought on by the mutation of genetically modified seeds and the collapse of the petroleum industry. These seeds are controlled by a few megacorporations, referred to as “calorie companies”, who grant exclusive licencing for the use of their seeds on a country-by-country basis. These geneseeds are highly regulated, ostensibly to control for any further lethal mutations. Therefore, any new or “lost” seed strains are contraband and highly sought after.

Bacigalupi does an excellent job describing the fetid, corrupt, desperate environment in Thailand. Using the third-person omnicient narrative voice, we enter the story of each of the three main characters mid-arc. It is up to the reader to extrapolate information and piece together what is really going on. There is a liberal use of Thai words that adds to the flavour and authentic feel.

Through the first 120 pages the novel slowly lays out the power struggles among the government ministries, the royal house, the purist police, and the various high powered merchants and megacorps. There are oblique references to the Expansion, the Contraction, and the coal wars - all hinting at a globe-spanning environmental disaster. The Kingdom of Thailand stands apart from the other Southeast Asian countries. Through a disciplined, fascistic nationalism, those in power protect the Kingdom against the greedy foreigners who first destroyed all the food and are now charging crazy rates for "taint free” food.
“[The Minister] understood what was at stake, and what had to be done. When the borders needed closing, when ministries needed isolating, when [towns] needed razing, he did not hesitate.”

There are strong allegorical elements: what happens at the individual level mirrors what is happening at the community, corporate, and national level. For example, the megodonts – elephantine hybrids bred for mindless labour – and the cheshires – feral cats that evolved an ability to literally blend into the background hint at both the man-made and environmentally-pressured mutations interleaved with daily living. Bacigalupi has a rich, lyrical writing style: In referring to the political infighting between the Ministries of Trade and Environment: “A storm is coming, full of water spouts and tidal waves.”

The intersecting threads that link the several main characters just begin to be revealed half way through the book. Until then, these disparate threads have to be held in the reader’s mind – utterly foreign languages and customs in a newly constructed world. Eventually through discrete revelations, some pieces begin to come together to create the bigger picture. I had several “oh, that’s what’s going on” moments as the individual bits began to tie together.

The titular character does not appear until two-thirds into the novel. Called Emiko, she seems to represent the Struggle for Self-Identity. As a genetically created human, in Thailand she is an abomination. She cannot walk the streets in daylight for fear that she will be raped, beaten, or picked up by the authorities and “mulched” back to her component organs. The book describes in graphic detail the sexual and emotional humiliations and degradation Emiko goes through on a daily basis at the strip club where she is housed.

Sadly, I did not find myself caring about any of the characters. Key world-building elements that would have helped put their actions in a better context were not revealed until well after the first 150 pages. This information would have served the story better to have been in a prologue. Too many times, when characters would spend time in spiritual reflection, I found myself asking, “Yeah, so?”

This book is less driven by characters than by larger ideas of ecological ownership, politics, global history, indentured servitude, morality, and social responsibility. Published only four years ago, the issues it raises and forecasts give it contemporary relevance.

This book was both a 2009 Nebula Award winner and tied for a 2010 Hugo Award for best novel. This book also won the 2010 Compton Crook Award and the 2010 Locus Award for best first novel.

Though very well written, this award winning book is not structured in a way I enjoy. It is a non-subtle warning of what may happen if food production is allowed to become fully industrialized, put in control of a few global corporations, and genetically manipulated... a dark and violent future.
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Dorothy2012 | 303 other reviews | Apr 22, 2024 |


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