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The Windup Girl

(The Windup Universe #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  72,026 ratings  ·  6,741 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;
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Night Shade Books
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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 Weste…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)
Lawrence Isn't Kannika the prostitute who tortured the Windup Girl onstage? If so, she just disappears. No explicit revenge is taken on her. I know because I w…moreIsn't Kannika the prostitute who tortured the Windup Girl onstage? If so, she just disappears. No explicit revenge is taken on her. I know because I was expecting it. I think she was a victim, too, and hence her faults were forgiven by the author. (less)

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Paul Bryant

The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Authors

Once upon a time, a little girl named Goldilocks decided to go for a walk in the forest. Very soon, she came upon a house made of books.

She knocked at the door but no one answered, so being a rather bold and sassy little girl, she walked right in.

At the table in the kitchen, there were three science fiction novels. The first one was called The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Goldilocks began to read. “Ugh!” she exclaimed, “This plot is too cold, no
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
“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.”


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 compani
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
February Four
Jun 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 Alaba
Kevin Ansbro
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kevin by: Apatt
"She can barely remember the last time she slept without pain or fear, and she is groggy with it. The rooms are dim, lit only by the glow of the street's gaslights flickering alive like fireflies."

As I begin my review, I would like to 'fess up and state that dystopian novels really aren't my thing. Prior to reading this, I felt dystopian to be a by-word for introspective, poorly-written tosh.
I even swore an oath that I would rather tip Tabasco onto my eyeballs than ever read anything resembl
Jul 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
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
Interesting and provoking. Misleading title; I kept waiting for the story to focus more on the wind-up girl. Perhaps it should have been called The Company Man.

It's one of those dystopian allegories where she represents something or other to a guy that is involved in exploiting the world. I think. I should have wrote a better review. Interesting message, uncomfortable delivery.

His vision of the future is very dark, and I think he spends a lot of time, in all his works, exploring the fractures i
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
David Putnam
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is my top favorite book in the fantasy genre, it blew me away. The world he created felt so genuine and real. If you are a fantasy reader give this one a whirl, you won't be disappointed.
No but it is near future after GMO has ruined the world. I don't know if your into fantasy but this is a fantastic book. It swept the scifi awards, The Hugo Award for best Novel, Nebula Award for Best Novel John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, Seiun Award for Best Translated Nove
Simona B
Aug 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
The Windup Girl belongs to a very specific category of novels that make my heart ache as if it were being ripped open from the inside; said category being, great-concept-poor-excecution.

At page 100 (around 25% into the book) I still had to figure out what all the fuss was about. While I should have been eagerly wondering what was going to happen next, the one question that haunted me was "Why am I even reading this?", or, "What's the point of the whole thing?". I think the book failed to get my
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, playing-god
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Biopunk is, unfortunately, such an underrepresented genre compared to steampunk and other Sci-Fi subgenres with a potential that has to be unleashed.

I could imagine such a setting in a real dystopian, Mad Max Style world where everything is based on biological technologies and nothing technical can be used anymore. Probably with different ideologies regarding the use and development of biology as the main power blocks.
In the case of this novel, many problems such as peak oil, super pests and ra
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Foz Meadows
Oct 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Althea Ann
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aug 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Overall: Disappointing that this should have won the Hugo/Nebula. For a number of reasons.


Bacigalupi's worldbuilding is great: he imagines a far future Kingdom of Thailand, where risen sea levels + GMO mayhem have managed to destroy the planet. This biopunk dystopia feels desperate, immediate and urgent, and, on a meta level, it's a scathing commentary on (fair) trade, ag subsidies in the US/Europe, the American food industry and people (such as myself) burning up the atmo in environment
Megan Baxter
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't know if I've ever read a book quite like The Windup Girl. Normally, I try to situate a book I've just read in relation to other books, no matter how tenuous and personal the connections may be (I can't explain why I always think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a more interesting version of On the Road, for instance.)

But this, I'm at a loss. Nothing springs to mind. It so rarely happens, but The Windup Girl stands alone in my mind

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due t
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
Updated review, after a re-read in November 2018.


Imagine a future where we have actually run out of oil and fossil fuel, where genetically modified food has gotten completely out of control, where people have figured out a way to make genetic weapons that ruined other countries’ harvests, and foodborne plagues have screwed up every level of the food chain and killed millions. Calories are now the most sought-after currency: clean calories, that is. Anderson Lake, the sort-of main character of

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 w
Rusty's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
Full review @Scaredy Engines End of Line Library

Five QUINTILLION stars! Seriously though it has been such a long time since I stumbled across a book I love this much and to top it all off it’s set in a place I visited a lot on holiday while growing up: Bangkok!

But this wasn’t the Bangkok we all know, it was one that is a result of the aftermath of global warming and what humans are doing to the planet. I read this book while on holiday in Thailand so I got a deeper experience of the many culture
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
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

This was a great book. And the only reason I’m not rating it higher is because I’ve read better from Paolo Bacigalupi. If I had read this a few years ago, I think I would have enjoyed it unconditionally, but of course that’s not what happened. Instead, I read The Water Knife earlier this year and loved it, and as I usually do when I read an amazing new book by an author I’ve never read before, I went and picked up a bunc
This will be a very conflicted review but, overall a fascinating book...

This near future tale which takes place in an almost post fossil-fuel Thailand. This book really should be classified as horror, the most frightening aspect of it is it's very real plausibility. Genetically engineered world in which real food with calories is rare and where they are seeking stockpiles of non-genetically modified seeds to grow calories. A world in which corporations battle in biological wars and breed disease
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Paolo Bacigalupi is an award-winning author of novels for adults and young people.

His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Grand

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