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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
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The Windup Girl (2009)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,6392311,514 (3.76)2 / 455
  1. 121
    River of Gods by Ian McDonald (santhony)
    santhony: Very similar dystopian view of the near future in a third world environment.
  2. 113
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Another novel about a dystopian future with strong environmental themes.
  3. 80
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. 71
    Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (CKmtl)
    CKmtl: Fans of one of these works of Ecological SF may enjoy the other.
  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
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (g33kgrrl)
  10. 32
    Bangkok 8 by John Burdett (ahstrick)
  11. 10
    Mosquito [short story] by Richard Calder (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Two powerful stories strike an eery chord...
Ghosts (20)
Asia (73)
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English (226)  French (2)  Polish (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (231)
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
it's the 22nd century. 21st century energies are gone. a lot of the world is flooded. corruption is rampant. Thailand still has a bit of a toehold, holding back the seas, doing genehacks to eat, restricting the shadowy corporates from overrunning genomes, banning the windup toys of the still-rich. but it can't last. ( )
  macha | Mar 11, 2019 |
My first "science fiction noir". A vivid future Thailand with a large cast of complex characters and a complicated political scenario that is allowed to unfold with no clunky explanations. The most fascinating character is the Windup Girl, Emiko, created to be a kind of modern uber geisha. She fills the gaping hole left in my reading life by David Mitchell's Sonmi from Cloud Atlas. I wish there was more of Emiko in this novel, but using her as sparingly as possible is probably a better authorial choice - it's part of what makes her so intriguing, and is in keeping with her character too. While I'd love to read more 'Windup' novels, I'd hate for that to mean turning this near perfect novel into a franchise. Bacigalupi has published an earlier short story from this same world called "The Calorie Man", so at least I have that to look forward to. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
This book is dense. Bacigalupi throws you right into the fray with a combination of real words in Thai and Chinese along with his world’s own slang, and no glossary to flip back to. The last book I read about what could happen if we don’t take care of the environment was Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood), so this felt similar, but in a new setting that was interesting to delve into. ( )
  amsee | Mar 2, 2019 |
If she were to scrub for a thousand years she would not be clean, but she is too tired to care and she has grown accustomed to scars she cannot scour away. The sweat, the alcohol, the humid salt of semen and degradation, these she can cleanse. It is enough. She is too tired to scrub harder. Too hot and too tired, always.

Is it disturbing to admit that I loved this portrait of a world of shit? Every page illustrates plagues, famine, pogroms and lethal greed in a distant world bereft of petroleum but still labored with bio-monotony tethered with patented grain and calorie sources: which in turn are so vulnerable to disease both natural and terroristic.

Do we encounter this world through the kindly perspective of a good man, pushing a shopping cart and carrying the fire? Oh hell no. Instead we have a cast of loathsome creatures all lusting for gold bricks while the shitstorm innundates them.

Thinking about The Windup Girl six months later, the enormity of Sandy pummling the Atlantic coast leaves the nominally neutral reader somewhat queasy. We as a nation just spent a few billion dollars on a presidential election that deigned not to mention climate change even as the winds and tides broke ranks and cast aspersions over a thousand miles. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Bacigalupi envisions a bleak world here. Not only have oil reserves dwindled to almost nothing, companies went too far a generation or two back and lost control of a plague that poisons food crops. In due course animal populations have plummeted. Its called the Contraction, and the world has indeed shrank in population and land as water levels continue to rise.

The book is set in Thailand. Bangkok survives by way of a dam and pump system that keeps the ocean at bay, but the government is corrupt, its departments warring with each other in the name of the future security of the country. Imports are strictly limited and the country survives because it has the ability to engineer safe crops for its people. This is coming to an end as the Trade Ministry gains ascendancy over Environment. Captain Jaidee will stop at nothing to ensure that Thailand remains free of foreign interference. Anderson Lake represents that interferance. He is an undercover 'calorie man' looking for fresh seedstock so AgriGen, a company that caused the food problem, can generate new disease-resistant crops to people and enormous profits for themselves. Hock Seng, a scheming and often desperate Chinese refugee working in Lake's sham of a factory, Jaidee's Lieutenant Kanya, and Emiko the wind-up girl herself make up the principle cast.

All of the characters, even those seemingly secure in their priviledge, are caught up in their circumstances and seem to have their backs against a wall. What they're seeking isn't mundane but life or death. Every chapters has the characters inwardly cursing their fate and scrabbling their nails bloody against their schackles. And yet, there's not much emotion here. Other reviewers have commented on that. There are some awful things written here. Horrific circumstances where I was grateful for the narrative distance (a first person perspective would have made me give up the book in despair, probably), but it would have been nice to be able to have some connection to them.

In spite of that I admire this vision of the future complete with its grim review of the consequences of genetic engineering. Bacigalupi fails to account for the lack of sources of energy besides the kink-springs, but as a reader I was willing to go with the information given. This book took awhile to grab me, I put it aside for weeks at a time I think, but when it did get me, I couldn't stop reading it. I understand why it has been showered with so much praise and why a sequel hasn't emerged yet. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 226 (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 (13 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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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)

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