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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Windup Girl (2009)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,9712471,495 (3.76)2 / 471
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.
  1. 131
    River of Gods by Ian McDonald (santhony)
    santhony: Very similar dystopian view of the near future in a third world environment.
  2. 147
    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. 104
    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. 71
    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. 10
    Mosquito [short story] by Richard Calder (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Two powerful stories strike an eery chord...
  9. 21
    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!
  10. 32
    Bangkok 8 by John Burdett (ahstrick)
  11. 00
    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (sturlington)
    sturlington: Steampunk
  12. 01
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (g33kgrrl)
Asia (76)
Ghosts (65)

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English (242)  French (2)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (247)
Showing 1-5 of 242 (next | show all)
"Good book made even better by great narration"

"The Windup Girl" made quite a splash when it came out. It won the Nebula and the Hugo and it was the author's debut novel (although he'd written four previous novels that he couldn't get published).

I bought a copy when it came out in paperback but I struggled so much with all the strange Thai names and words in the first chapter that I put it to one side and somehow it never came back to the top of the reading pile.

When I saw that there was an Audible Frontiers version, read by Jonathan Davis, who did such a good job reading "Theiftaker", I decided to give it another try.

"The Windup Girl" is set in a far future Bangkok and is written from the point of view of five different characters: three men an American from one of the calorie companies that controls the world's food supply, a Malay Chinese refugee who has lost everything, a Thai Captain in the Environment Ministry who passionately defends his country; and two women, a Thai subordinate to the Captain who has her own agenda and a New Person, the Windup Girl of the title, who was manufactured in Japan.,

Jonathan Davis gives each of them a distinctive voice, in the right accent. He performs rather than simply narrating. He clearly studied the text carefully. Every inflection supports the author's meaning. He pronounces the many foreign words and formal titles with an easy familiarity that made me feel part of the landscape. The production standards are high. The music is appropriate. This is a movie for the ear.

The book turned out to be everything I had hoped for. Bacigalupi (the name is Italian and means "kiss of the wolf. I know this because John Irving used it for his main writer character in "One Night At Twisted River". I wonder if he's ever read "The Windup Girl?) has created a plausible future in an exotic (to me) setting. It is a hard world and the main characters all face the same challenge: deciding what they are prepared to do to survive and having to live with the person they become with each survival decision they make.

The book has a good plot and strong local colour but at its heart it is character driven.The characters do not divide easily into good or bad. They are products of their pasts who, under the extreme pressure of their current circumstances, have to decide what they really value and what they are prepared to sacrifice to get it. Some of the characters are hard to like but all of them feel real and all of them, even the most selfish and fear-driven, won my sympathy.

Bacigalupi is willing to be truly brutal when the story demands it. The sex show that the Windup Girl is forced to perform is graphic and detailed and completely devoid of any trace of eroticism. In a land where keeping face is everything, Bacigalupi show us that this performance is about humiliation, shame and power. One of the characters is forced to make a public apology. Coming from the West this didn't strike me as a big deal. Bacifalupi put me far enough inside the Thai character's head that I was shocked at the vicious, merciless annihilation of the man's pride and identity.

It's a long book, more than nineteen hours of listening, but it seemed to fly by and I regretted reaching the end simply because I had enjoyed it so much.

Read this book if you're in the mood for something thought provoking, difficult but fundamentally human ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
This was one of the most creative and imaginative books that I have read. Bacigalupi created a magnificent world that is harsh and brutal. His imaginings as to what could happen with our world in the future (maybe not too distal) are horrifying. This story was beautifully written. I did have a hard time following the audiobook and kept getting the characters confused. That's something that might have been rectified if I had a physical book. I think it's because the names are all different and difficult. I wanted more Emiko and was a little disappointed that the book wasn't all about her. I'd like to see more in this world and with these characters. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this book.

The future world that Bacigalupi creates is full of life and details and technologies that are plausible and functional. The main characters are believable, and have flaws that make them interesting.

The only reason that I cannot give it five stars is that I thought that the plot was not that strong. Whilst it was complex, it didn't have the twist I was hoping for. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Returned to library unfinished. No rating. I may try to finish this later.
  OtownShorty | Mar 26, 2020 |
Inizialmente di non facile approccio, in termini di scorrevolezza, ma da subito accattivante.
La è trama incalzante, le ambientazioni distopiche e gli ingredienti cyberpunk (genopunk o biopunk?) sono dosati e miscelati ad arte.
Finalmente qualcosa per cui entusiasmarsi.
(avere altre traduzioni del Bacigalupi sarebbe cosa gradita) ( )
  gi0rgi0 | Mar 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 242 (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 (7 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
Riffel, HannesÜbersetzersecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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