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The Windup Girl (2009)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,0272911,551 (3.75)2 / 495
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. 141
    River of Gods by Ian McDonald (santhony)
    santhony: Very similar dystopian view of the near future in a third world environment.
  2. 157
    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. 124
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Another novel about a dystopian future with strong environmental themes.
  4. 81
    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.
  5. 71
    Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (CKmtl)
    CKmtl: Fans of one of these works of Ecological SF may enjoy the other.
  6. 60
    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....
  7. 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.
  8. 31
    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. 32
    Bangkok 8 by John Burdett (ahstrick)
  10. 10
    Mosquito [short story] by Richard Calder (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Two powerful stories strike an eery chord...
  11. 21
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (g33kgrrl)
  12. 00
    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (sturlington)
    sturlington: Steampunk
  13. 00
    Autonomous: A Novel by Annalee Newitz (DemetriosX)
  14. 00
    The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (Shrike58)
    Shrike58: I'm making the cross-reference for reasons of setting (SE Asia), issues (food and the environment), and matters of post-human intelligence.
Asia (31)
Ghosts (109)

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» See also 495 mentions

English (284)  German (2)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (291)
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
I think the only reason it took me over a month to read this book is that it kept putting me to sleep. That doesn't mean it's not good (although I waffled about that toward the beginning). I think it's just because I read it at bedtime and it's not exactly action-packed. In fact, it's quite sedate. So after three or four pages, my eyelids kept slamming shut, even though I wanted to continue reading.

It's a haunting story of a city, Bangkok, in a future suffering from the sins of the present. Rising oceans threaten to flood it. Genetically engineered food and animals haven't worked out quite exactly as they were intended. Fossil fuels are no longer plentiful and cheap. All of these are presented in ways that require little suspension of disbelief. Only a sense of wonder.

The characters and setting kept me turning pages. They are compelling and vivid, with genuine goals and obstacles. Driving the plot are true mysteries, believable villains, and unexpected twists. This is by no means a happy story, on any level. But it is one worth reading. ( )
  zot79 | Aug 20, 2023 |
Very enjoyable and fresh. The environmental themes where very resonant for me.
  noiseislife | Aug 13, 2023 |
I wanted to like this, I really did. Unfortunately, that didn't really happen.

One caveat, I was stupid and didn't finish this book when I first took it out of the library and then I wasn't able to renew it. Back to the library it went while I waited for my turn again. A month passed before I got the book back and could finish it. This large break in the middle was not good for my reading experience.

All that aside, I just didn't really like the book. I found there just wasn't enough meat and detail about the main characters and that the story seemed to jump/start/stop too much. I'm not sure if that was on purpose as a way of mimicking the movements of Emiko or if it was just my perceptions of it.

( )
  beentsy | Aug 12, 2023 |
This book is awful.

Well, at least the first 12% of it was.   It was so awful that i really just couldn't be bothered to wade through any more of the trudging, depressing, miserable writing.   I feel i gave it a fair go because if a writer can't sort his mess out in the first 12% of a book then the book can be deleted as far as i'm concerned.

All we get are depressing characters that you really have no inclination for any level of empathy towards, you just wish they'd all go away and someone interesting turn up, but no one does.   Just miserable, depressing people who drink alcohol and smoke and live in a kind of steampunk dystopia which hasn't been explained as to how all this mess came about.   In fact, it all just feels totally messy, disjointed and made up by someone who really hasn't made any attempt at understanding whatever genre this is supposed to be.

So, at the end of 12%, NO THANK YOU!

Deleted! ( )
  5t4n5 | Aug 9, 2023 |
Awesome backdrop, interesting characters, nifty plot twists - what more could you ask for?

In my case I'd like a little light. Except for the ending it's a fairly dismal tale, dark enough that the little spark at the end doesn't even try to illuminate all that went before it.

It's not going to make my all time favourite list, but it's very much worth reading. Grab a copy if you haven't read it yet. And your cat will love it :-) ( )
  furicle | Aug 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 284 (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 (17 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
Lockhart, Ross E.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podaný, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riffel, HannesÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ulman, JulietEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wang, EugeneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"No! I don't want the mangosteen."
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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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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