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The Windup Girl

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  38,419 ratings  ·  4,337 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;
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Hardcover, 359 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Night Shade Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Daniel Grad Traditionalist Eastern cultures put a lot of emphasis on hierarchy and assigned roles in society. Individual feelings are not as important as in…moreTraditionalist Eastern cultures put a lot of emphasis on hierarchy and assigned roles in society. Individual feelings are not as important as in Western cultures. So even if everyone hates him, they still have to show respect (not in a coercive manner; an individual would feel ashamed for showing any outward sign of their feelings towards the person they're supposed to only show respect for).
But besides all that, I think here "the people" who revere him and "everybody" who know of his reputation are actually two distinct groups. Most characters in the book have connections and access to information that are beyond what most of the population would know. The common people only see his public image and maybe a few have heard some rumors.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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
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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
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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
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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
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Becky
Well... That was interesting. I really had no idea what this book was actually going to be about when I started it, and even if I had read the description or reviews, I don't think it would have helped much. I just finished this book, after being immersed for a full week in this world, a plausible future Earth, and I'm thinking that I'll be pondering the lessons and themes in this one for a while yet. There's just so freaking MUCH to this book... It's hard to say that it's about any one thing. I ...more
Foz Meadows
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Althea Ann
What? I haven't said anything about this book yet?
I've now read this book for two different book clubs. And I'm working on reading everything that Bacigalupi's ever published. The Windup Girl won the Hugo and the Nebula, and well-deserved both.

What makes this book so excellent?
Well, first, it posits a frightening, fully believable, and wholly realized future. Set an indeterminate amount of time from now, not all the details are filled in. The Expansion (a time period that we're obviously in rig
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Jonfaith
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 b
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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
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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
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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
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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
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
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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
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
Lyn
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a biopunk novel that won the Hugo Award in 2010 along with China Mieville’s The City & the City.

I picked up the book because I also enjoyed City and the City and because I was intrigued by the genre “Biopunk”. The novel is full of referenced to “gene ripping” and DNA experimentation and also a great deal of examples of how such experimentation can go terribly wrong as some new invasive species have taken over as readily as kudzu on a roadside hill in A
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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
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
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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
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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
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Chris
Wait, what? What did I just read?



Yeah, something like that, Captain.

I tell you what though. I liked it! If this was a series, I'd read more of them. Yeah, if you write a Malazan Book of the Windup, I'll damn read it.

Because there was so much I didn't understand. There was so much I scratched my head about and wondered WHY?! But I was engrossed. The future Thai Kingdom depicted here and the world it's set in are brilliant. I felt like I was there. I didn't always get what was coming, but if you s
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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
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More about Paolo Bacigalupi...
Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1) The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2) Pump Six and Other Stories The Water Knife The Alchemist

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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.” 47 likes
“Politics is ugly. Never doubt what small men will do for great power.” 32 likes
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