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The Windup Girl

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  32,658 ratings  ·  3,884 reviews
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;...more
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Night Shade Books (first published 2009)
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RandomAnthony
Long, scorching days are science fiction/fantasy weather. Back when I was in middle school, after quitting baseball but not quite when I could take the L across town to Wax Trax, I would walk the four or five miles to the Harlem-Irving Plaza a couple times a week. The mall had a Waldenbooks, and off to the right about three quarters toward the back (if you were standing at the entrance) stood the science fiction/fantasy section. I would take my hard-earned cash from umpiring t-ball games (actual...more
Nataliya
My grandmother reads food labels to see if they contain any genetically modified products. I used to laugh at it. Now, after reading The Windup Girl, I'm tempted to take a closer look at the food labels myself.



Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl is a bleak and depressing story set in the future run by calorie monopolies, where genetically modified products and manufactured foodborne plagues have wiped out the foodchains, wars are waged for precious seeds, and quarantines for food-borne diseases a...more
Michael
Try to picture a world where big corporations own the rights to the food we eat, and engineer it specifically so that the seeds can't be reused. Picture a world where the natural resources are steadily depleting, but everyone is still trying to act as if nothing is wrong. Picture a world where technology is barely managing to address the problems of the moment, and perhaps won't be able to keep up in the face of unexpected catastrophes.

That wasn't too hard now, was it?

The best science fiction i...more
Jeffrey Keeten
“We rest in the hands of a fickle god. He plays on our behalf only for entertainment, and he will close his eyes and sleep if we fail to engage his intellect.”

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In Paolo Bacigalupi's imagined future, Bangkok has become a simmering stew pot of paranoia, brutality, despair, and betrayal. Genetic manipulation has brought the world to the brink of extinction. With great advancements also came tragic mistakes. Blister rust, Cibiscosis, the Genehack weevil brought death and famine. The very companies t...more
February Four
Jun 09, 2013 February Four rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to February by: Hugo Awards
Caveat: I am Malaysian, and I am a Hugo voter who is reading the Hugo consideration edition. I hated the book so much I stopped reading it without even getting to the titular character Emiko. Make of that what you will.

Here is my biggest problem with this book: the name of my country is MALAYSIA. Not Malaya. MalaySIa. I don't mind as much if Andersen Lake gets it wrong--he's portrayed as an asshole who doesn't bother to get the local cultural details right anyway, and he seems quite racist to me...more
Catie
This is the kind of book that unceremoniously dumps you in the middle of a teeming, noisy world and demands that you sink or swim. Oh, and that noise that I mentioned? Yeah, it’s all slang, and in about five different languages – none of which you can understand. My advice is just try to float with it. Don’t stress out if you can’t understand half the words, or the vague references to “the incident” or “the situation in Finland.” All will come clear…trust me.

This story is set in a futuristic Tha...more
Aubrey
When it comes to sci-fi, I have plenty of caveats: plethoras of men, mounds of white people, all of the worth submersed in several provocative "ideas" built up by science and a great deal of solipsism. It took Le Guin's phenomenal The Dispossessed to give the genre a place in my further reading, and while this book doesn't measure up in terms of prose and thought experiments, it hits that international flavor that TD doesn't, something realistic future fiction should always aim for. Unless the n...more
Suz
Wow, this book was immensely unsatisfying.

And for the life of me, I don't know why it's won so many awards, accolades and general love from so many people.

The story takes place in Bangkok, after the "Contraction" (both peak oil events and the general destruction of the ecosystem, complete with plagues cause a collapse in society as we know it and quality of life), where a host of not-quite-interesting characters interact. Everything from eco-terrorist types trying to keep their country clean and...more
Stephen
6.0 stars. The most recent addition to my list of "All Time Favorite" novels. This is Science fiction "noir" AT ITS BEST. By "noir" I mean science ficiton (and fantasy) books that are characterized by: (1) a dark, dystopic world; (2) main characters that are "grey" as oppossed to black or white when it comes to morals; (3) plots that involve complicated questions of morality and characters doing the right thing for the wrong reason and vice versa.

Prime examples for me (all of which are also on...more
Kemper
The wife got me a cool gadget for Christmas. It’s a LED flashlight that is powered by turning a little crank on it so I won’t be cursing a lack of fresh batteries when I need it. In The Windup Girl, I could make some money by cranking that flashlight for someone.

It’s set in Thailand after corporate warfare between agricultural firms went biological. In the process of trying to taint the other guy’s crops, most of the world’s food supply is now perpetually at risk of being overwhelmed by the next...more
Tatiana
3.5 stars

Unfortunately, I ended up enjoying The Windup Girl significantly less I than I thought I would.

I blame it on two things:

1) the narrator read this novel way too slowly for my taste;

2) the world of the novel was a little too familiar after reading Ship Breaker and Pump Six and Other Stories. Bacigalupi's version of the future where natural resources are exhausted and the world is enslaved by genehacking "calorie men," who have total control of food and energy supply and who are the sour...more
Penny
I absolutely had to read this after reading Paolo Bacigalupi's collection of short stories Pump Six and Other Stories. Two of the stories in the collection are set in the same world as The Windup Girl and both resonated deeply with me. I found the collection hard to read and impossible to put down. I couldn't leave Paolo's imagination just yet and so I had to read this novel next. I'm so glad I did.

This story is set in a not impossible, or frankly unlikely, version of our current world. It is se...more
Apatt
I just realized something, neologisms - like bow ties - are cool. Explaining made-up words in a glossary or through infodumps is uncool. Nowadays sf authors seem to delight in making up new words and leave the readers to figure out their meaning through context. Depending on the skill of the author this can be an exercise in frustration or a lot of fun for the readers who like a bit of challenge.

Plenty of newly minted words in The Windup Girl, plus lots of Thai words which are equally unexplaine...more
Clouds

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.

This is the reading list that follows the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I loved reading the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners so I'm going to crack on with the Hugo winners next (but only the post-1980 winners, I'll follow up with
...more
Richard
Jun 22, 2010 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting state-of-the-art complex SciFi
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2010-03 SciFi Selection
The Windup Girl has been getting plaudits from all over, including here on Goodreads (Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction). It has been nominated for the 2009 Nebula Award as well as the 2010 Hugo Award, too. (Update: on May 15th, 2010, this novel won the Nebula award. Web over here for more details).

Frankly, I haven’t read many other novels recently that I think deserve to win more. This brings us Bangkok in the late twenty-second century, in a deeply textured mash-up reminiscent...more
David Sven
I read this to sample a bit of steampunk. Not what I was expecting. I kinda had in mind an alternate Universe with steam powered technology and Zeppelins. What I got instead was a future dystopian world...

"when whole kingdoms and countries are gone. When Malaya is a morass of killing. When Kowloon is underwater. When China is split and the Vietnamese are broken and Burma is nothing but starvation. The Empire of America is no more. The Union of the Europeans splintered and factionalized."

Steam is...more
Foz Meadows
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandi
Science fiction has always been my first love. I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately simply because it's more popular and there's more good new fantasy than good new science fiction. So much science fiction just looks like it's rehashing old stories, I kind of yawn reading the blurbs. However, The Windup Girl has been getting a lot of good word of mouth and I really liked a couple of short stories I've read by the author, so I thought I'd check it out. I was truly impressed with the book. Pa...more
Arun Divakar
In India, if the newspapers are to be believed then the rainfall is 70% shorter than what it was last year. Electricity is at a low as a majority of states rely on hydroelectric power and power cuts move from being an exception to a norm. The rise in price of fuel always starts off protests and invariably the price index of many an item goes higher. Which brings us to that dreaded question : What will the world be when the fossil fuels and electricity run out ? A fraction of such a world is what...more
knig
There is no real reason why this novel should be called the wind-up girl. Apart from the fact that there is, in fact, a character called ‘the wind-up girl’ (Emiko). Along with a plethora of other characters, each one given almost equal ‘air time’ in some twisted equal opportunities narratorial drive, which dispenses with the intent of primary characters and creates a mostra of frenetic participants, all dashing about wildly in an intense terpsichorean plot escalation. Some of these, such as Hock...more
Cindy
Mar 15, 2010 Cindy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cindy by: Sci-Fi/Fantasy March 2010 Group Read
I feel really guilty about giving The Windup Girl only 3 stars. In a perfect world I'd give her 3.5 glasses of ice water and a kink spring, but this is just integer-loving GR.

There are aspects to The Windup Girl that I really, really liked. It's extremely literary with evocative, fresh writing. The world building is complex and Bacigalupi doesn't feel the need to answer every single question or detail. It feels like a cross between biopunk, steampunk and near-future dystopias. Finally, much of t...more
Jim
Jan 07, 2011 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jim by: numerous Goodreads reviews
First, the caveats. This book is not for everyone. It has terrifying moments, along with some graphic, explicit scenes that many may find offensive.

With that said, I give a lot of latitude to books that are written with extreme skill, and to a moving story that is well told. The Windup Girl, for me, is outstanding in both those respects. Ten pages in, I was hooked, having found the rhythm of some unusual terminology and the dystopian scene. From that point on, I couldn't put it down, and there...more
Nicole
If I could give this 0 stars I would. I really wanted to like the book. The premise, a post-apocalyptic world where bioengineering and climate change have made life barely functional, seemed an interesting angle. Unfortunately, the book was full of gratuitous foul language and then a couple chapters in there is a horrible, pornographic rape scene. I didn't need or want to read any more once it became clear that this was going to be the way things were done. It was also clear almost immediately t...more
Tim "The Enchanter"
Posted to The Literary Lawyer.ca

A Secular Morality Tale - 4 Stars

The Windup Girl is part novel part visceral experience. From the first page, the reader is immersed in the gritty, fetid and hot streets of a future Thailand. While gradual introduction to a world is standard in most novels, The Windup Girl uses full immersion and challenges you to catch up. This will not be for every reader. The pacing and style will put off some readers. If you are looking for a light and easy read, you sho...more
Tfitoby
Wow! I went from knowing nothing about this book to loving it within the first few chapters. The front of the book compares the author with William Gibson and sure certain ideas and themes are comparable to his cyberpunk but in style, tone and structure this felt more like a James Ellroy novel.

At times it's completely brutal in its description of human carnage and none of the major players are good or bad; they are all varying shades of grey all with their own selfish agendas. Very much in the...more
Stacey
I think I've recommended this to more people than any other book I've read (except maybe American Gods,) and yet I had to let it tumble around in my mind for months before writing about it.

Sometimes it's like that, and I'm so smitten with a story, or the prose, or... something... that I have no clue what I want to say at the end. I think the idea of all of these people doing such ordinary things, day to day, in the background, as they struggle to just survive in a world that has gone so complet...more
AMessyRenaissance
I feel like reviewing this book is very difficult.

There are a lot of problems:

-- The author dumps you into a completely envisioned future, with all of the resulting slang and history, with no explanations. It made figuring out what was going on in the beginning difficult.
-- I spent a lot of time trying to understand the world the author was creating, only to figure out that the majority of all of it, didn't matter to the story in the end.
-- I can't decide whose story this book is suppose to...more
Adam
In recent years there have been a couple of terrific novels that have shown up in the science fiction section. Iain Macdonald’s River of Gods and Paul J MCauley’s The Quiet War are books that combine wild ideas, believable and tasteful world building, great atmosphere, language, political savvy, character, page turning plots, and great use of the science fiction traditions of Shelley and Wells (to paraphrase Warren Ellis and others to respectively, show responsibility for your creations and usin...more
Chance Maree

Initially a successful short story and novella writer, Paolo Bacigalupi's first novel, The Windup Girl won many awards including the Nebula and Hugo. It is an intelligent, apocalyptic saga full of corrupt governments, greedy and immoral corporate super-powers, and civil insurrections, all players on an Earth that evolved through the consequences of global warming and plagues caused by the gene ripping of Mother Nature. It is a dark and dreary world, not for the faint of heart. Characters range f...more
Lit Bug
This 2009 Nebula and Hugo Award-winning futuristic bio-punk novel is set in the 23rd century Thailand, when global warming has depleted all natural energy sources and overturned all remnants of the past, familiar world. Now manual kink-springs are used to generate power. Rising ocean levels have ensured the depletion of old-world farming and food resources, resulting into rampant biotechnology, owned by gigantic mega-corporations who produce and sell genehacked seeds and use bio-terrorism and co...more
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Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in High Country News, Salon.com, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. It has been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for three Nebula and five Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best sf short story of the year.

His debut nov...more
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Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1) The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2) Pump Six and Other Stories The Alchemist Zombie Baseball Beatdown

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“We are nature. Our every tinkering is nature, our every biological striving. We are what we are, and the world is ours. We are its gods. Your only difficulty is your unwillingness to unleash your potential fully upon it.” 40 likes
“Politics is ugly. Never doubt what small men will do for great power.” 25 likes
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