This was a really good collection. Each story had a unique feel, which makes for strong diversity, and almost all of the stories were really solid. AsThis was a really good collection. Each story had a unique feel, which makes for strong diversity, and almost all of the stories were really solid. As with his novel, "The Windup Girl" I think Bacigalupi's strength is in his world-building. That isn't to say that his writing isn't strong; it is. And that isn't to say that he doesn't create interesting characters; he does. But what separated Bacigalupi from other hordes of sci-fi writers is that his worlds are unique; they are never bog standard sci-fi settings. They are each rich, and vibrant, and that is remarkable.
There is only one story in the collection that isn't science fiction, and that is "Softer." I would call it my favorite story in the collection, but favorite isn't really the word to use. I would say it gave me the strongest visceral reaction of any of the stories, in being that it is singularly the most fucked up thing I have ever read. You have to read it for yourself to see, though.
Among my other favorites are "A Pocketful of Dharma" about a young street urchin in a bio-city, "The People of Sand and Slag" a far-future militarstic sci-fi in which immortality has been reached through evolutionary technology, and "Pop Squad," in which people are immortal from use of a medication, but overpopulation is so severe that it is illegal to reproduce.
Highly recommended sci-fi collection, especially if you read and enjoyed his novel, "The Windup Girl."...more
The strength in the Nebula winning novel "The Windup Girl" by first-time novelist Paolo Bacigalupi lies primarily in an outstanding job of world buildThe strength in the Nebula winning novel "The Windup Girl" by first-time novelist Paolo Bacigalupi lies primarily in an outstanding job of world building. The novel is set in a near-future Thailand, where agricultural companies are racing to churn out food products that are resistant to the plague-like food-borne diseases that plague the region. Calories are traded like currency, and Thailand is on the brink of war between the environmental agencies and the military order.
Although not a perfect book, Bacigalupi's debut is extraordinarily well-written and quite enjoyable. I tend to like literature that is a bit on the dark side, but "The Windup Girl" is absolutely pitch black. I would never recommend this book to someone who isn't okay with a dark feel, graphic violence, assault, etc... This is not a kids book.
The biggest hurdle in the early going of the book is that none of the characters are likable off the bat. They all remained flawed people, but I would say that teach shows redeeming qualities eventually, which I think makes them stronger characters for it. People are flawed, and the people in this book are flawed, but they are not there to be nothing but unlikable, either.
Not every storyline is exciting to start. It isn't until about halfway through the book that I felt like I was into each thread of the novel, but Emiko's (The windup girl) story gripped me from the early going, and there were interesting aspects to Anderson Lake (American businessman working for one of the agricultural giants) early on. The other story lines, including Hock Seng (Chinese survivor of genocide in Malaysia), and Jaidee (member of the environmental army) tend to drag early on, but interesting revelations finally come around and they pick up as well.
Despite pacing issues and occasionally being a little too dark, even for me, "The Windup Girl" is certainly an excellent novel and deserving of its Nebula Award. It probably won't win the Hugo because it hasn't been read by as many people, (see that Mieville's "The City & The City" and Priest's "Boneshaker" have twice as many ratings on Goodreads) but it probably should. I prefer it over Boneshaker, but it remains to be seen about the others. Very good dystopian novel....more