The Windup Girl Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
The Windup Girl The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
59,430 ratings, 3.75 average rating, 6,086 reviews
Open Preview
The Windup Girl Quotes Showing 1-30 of 92
“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.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Politics is ugly. Never doubt what small men will do for great power.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Food should come from the place of its origin, and stay there. It shouldn't spend its time crisscrossing the globe for the sake of profit.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“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.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“She smiles at him, too young to know him for a stranger, and too innocent yet to care.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Water sluices away soap and grime, even some of the shame comes with it. 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.
At the end of her rinsing, she is happy to find a little water left in the bucket. She dips one ladleful and drinks it, gulping. And then in a wasteful, unrestrained gesture, she upends the bucket over her head in one glorious cathartic rush. In that moment, between the touch of the water, and the splash as it pools around her toes, she is clean.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“I hate your kind."

"Because someone like me made you?" He laughs again. "I'm surprised you aren't more pleased to meet me. You're as close as anyone ever comes to meeting God. Come now, don't you have any questions for God?"

Emiko scowls at him, nods at the cheshires. "If you were my God, you would have made New People first."

The old gaijin laughs. "That would have been exciting."

"We would have beaten you. Just like the cheshires."

"You may yet." He shrugs. "You do not fear cibiscosis or blister rust."

"No." Emiko shakes her head. "We cannot breed. We depend on you for that." She moves her hand. Telltale stutter-stop motion. "I am marked. Always, we are marked. As obvious as a ten-hands or a megodont."

He waves a hand dismissively. "The windup movement is not a required trait. There is no reason it couldn't be removed. Sterility. . ." He shrugs. "Limitations can be stripped away. The safeties are there because of lessons learned, but they are not required; some of them even make it more difficult to create you. Nothing about you is inevitable." He smiles. "Someday, perhaps, all people will be New People and you will look back on us as we now look back at the poor Neanderthals."

Emiko falls silent. The fire crackles. Finally she says, "You know how to do this? Can make me breed true, like the cheshires?"

The old man exchanges a glance with his ladyboy.

"Can you do it?" Emiko presses.

He sighs. "I cannot change the mechanics of what you already are. Your ovaries are non-existent. You cannot be made fertile any more than the pores of your skin supplemented."

Emiko slumps.

The man laughs. "Don't look so glum! I was never much enamored with a woman's eggs as a source of genetic material anyway." He smiles. "A strand of your hair would do. You cannot be changed, but your children—in genetic terms, if not physical ones—they can be made fertile, a part of the natural world."

Emiko feels her heart pounding. "You can do this, truly?"

"Oh yes. I can do that for you." The man's eyes are far away, considering. A smile flickers across his lips. "I can do that for you, and much, much more.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“She is an animal. Servile as a dog. And yet if he is careful to make no demands, to leave the air between them open, another version of the windup girl emerges. As precious and rare as a living bo tree. Her soul, emerging from within the strangling strands of her engineered DNA.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Sex and hypocrisy. They go together like coffee and cream.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Down an alley a washing woman has set out laundry in pans near the rubble of an old high-rise. Another is washing her body, carefully scrubbing under her sarong, its fabric clinging to her skin. Children run naked through the dirt, jumping over bits of broken concrete that were laid down more than a hundred years ago in the old Expansion. Far down the street the levees rise, holding back the sea.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Back home, we can't kill them fast enough," he says. "Even Grahamites offer blue bills for their skins. Probably the only thing they've ever done that I agreed with."

"Mmm, yes." Emiko's brow wrinkles thoughtfully. "They are too much improved for this world, I think. A natural bird has so little chance, now." She smiles slightly. "Just think if they had made New People first."

Is it mischief in her eyes? Or melancholy?

"What do you think would have happened?" Anderson asks.

Emiko doesn't meet his gaze, looks out instead at the circling cats amongst the diners. "Generippers learned too much from cheshires."

She doesn't say anything else, but Anderson can guess what's in her mind. If her kind had come first, before the generippers knew better, she would not have been made sterile. She would not have the signature tick-tock motions that make her so physically obvious. She might have even been designed as well as the military windups now operating in Vietnam—deadly and fearless. Without the lesson of the cheshires, Emiko might have had the opportunity to supplant the human species entirely with her own improved version. Instead, she is a genetic dead end. Doomed to a single life cycle, just like SoyPRO and TotalNutrient Wheat.

Another shadow cat bolts across the street, shimmering and shading through darkness. A high-tech homage to Lewis Carroll, a few dirigible and clipper ship rides, and suddenly entire classes of animals are wiped out, unequipped to fight an invisible threat.

"We would have realized our mistake," Anderson observes.

"Yes. Of course. But perhaps not soon enough.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“She holds the bills between her fingers. Her training tells her to be polite, but his self-satisfied largesse irritates her.

"What does the gentleman think I will do with his extra baht?" she asks. "Buy a pretty piece of jewelry? Take myself out to dinner? I am property, yes? I am Raleigh's." She tosses the money at his feet. "It makes no difference if I am rich or poor. I am owned."

The man pauses, one hand on the sliding door. "Why not run away, then?"

"To where?”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“The doctor smiles. "Don't cling too tightly to what is natural, Captain. Here, look," he bends forward, makes cooing noises. The shimmer of the cheshire cranes toward his face, mewling. Its tortoiseshell fur glimmers. It licks tentatively at his chin. "A hungry little beast," he says. "A good thing, that. If it's hungry enough, it will succeed us entirely, unless we design a better predator. Something that hungers for it, in turn."

"We've run the analysis of that," Kanya says. "The food web only unravels more completely. Another super-predator won't solve the damage already done."

Gibbons snorts. "The ecosystem unravelled when man first went a-seafaring. When we first lit fires on the broad savannas of Africa. We have only accelerated the phenomenon. The food web you talk about is nostalgia, nothing more. Nature." He makes a disgusted face. "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.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“How many of us are dead because of their potential unleashed? Your calorie masters showed us what happens. People die."

"Everyone dies." The doctor waves a dismissal. "But you die now because you cling to the past. We should all be windups by now. It's easier to build a person impervious to blister rust than to protect an earlier version of the human creature. A generation from now, we could be well-suited for our new environment. Your children could be the beneficiaries. Yet you people refuse to adapt. You cling to some idea of a humanity that evolved in concert with your environment over millennia, and which you now, perversely, refuse to remain in lockstep with.

"Blister rust is our environment. Cibiscosis. Genehack weevil. Cheshires. They have adapted. Quibble as you like about whether they evolved naturally or not. Our environment has changed. If we wish to remain at the top of our food chain, we will evolve. Or we will refuse, and go the way of the dinosaurs and Felis domesticus. Evolve or die. It has always been nature's guiding principle, and yet you white shirts seek to stand in the way of inevitable change." He leans forward. "I want to shake you sometimes. If you would just let me, I could be your god and shape you to the Eden that beckons us."

"I'm Buddhist."

"And we all know windups have no souls." Gibbons grins. "No rebirth for them. They will have to find their own gods to protect them. Their own gods to pray for their dead." His grin widens. "Perhaps I will be that one, and your windup children will pray to me for salvation." His eyes twinkle. "I would like a few more worshippers, I must admit. Jaidee was like you. Always such a doubter. Not as bad as Grahamites, but still, not particularly satisfactory for a god."

Kanya makes a face. "When you die, we will burn you to ash and bury you in chlorine and lye and no one will remember you."

The doctor shrugs, unconcerned. "All gods must suffer.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Jaidee has seen these ghosts as well, walking the boulevards sometimes, sitting in the trees. Phii are everywhere now. Too many to count. He has seen them in graveyards and and leaning against the bones of riddled bo trees, all of them looking at him with some irritation. Mediums all speak of how crazy with frustration the Phii are, how they cannot reincarnate and thus linger, like a great mass of people at Hualamphong Station hoping for a train down to the beaches. All of them waiting for a reincarnation that they cannot have because none of them deserve the suffering of this particular world.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“It is beginning."

Pak Eng and Laughing Chan and Peter all look at Hock Seng with respect. "You were right."

Hock Seng nods impatiently. "I learn."

The storm is gathering. The megodonts must do battle. It is their fate. The power sharing of the last coup could never last. The beasts must clash and one will establish final dominance. Hock Seng murmurs a prayer to his ancestors that he will come out of this maelstrom alive.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“I am bought, she thinks. I am paid for. I am bought.

When she first arrived at the Environment Ministry as Akkarat's mole, it was a surprise to discover that the little privileges of the Environment Ministry were always enough. The weekly take from street stalls to burn something other than expensive approved-source methane. The pleasure of a night patrol spent sleeping well. It was an easy existence. Even under Jaidee, it was easy. And now by ill-luck she must work, and the work is important, and she has had two masters for so long that she cannot remember which one should be ascendant.

Someone else should have replaced you, Jaidee. Someone worthy. The Kingdom falls because we are not strong. We are not virtuous, we do not follow the eightfold path and now the sicknesses come again.

And she is the one who must stand against them, like Phra Seub—but without the strength or moral compass.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“In the distance, the battle rages still, moved on to other avenues and other victims. Hock Seng limps down the street. Bodies lie everywhere. He reaches an intersection and hobbles across, too tired to care about the risk of being caught in the open. At the far side, a man lies slumped against a wall, his bicycle lying beside him. Blood soaks his lap.

Hock Seng picks up the bicycle.

"That's mine," the man says.

Hock Seng pauses, studying the man. The man can barely keep his eyes open, yet still he clings to normalcy, to the idea that something like a bicycle can be owned. Hock Seng turns and wheels the bicycle down off the sidewalk. The man calls out again, "That's mine." But he doesn't stand and he doesn't do anything to stop Hock Seng as he swings a leg over the frame and sets his feet on the pedals.

If the man complains again, Hock Seng doesn't hear it.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“You must go ask Gi Bu Sen for advice. He is the only one who knows what sort of monster we face. These are his children, coming to torment us. He will recognize them. I'm having the new samples prepared. Between the three, he will know. "

"There's no other way?"

"Our only other choice is to begin quarantining the city, and then the riots will begin and there will be nothing left to save.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“every so often they reach an impasse of language that seems more rooted in culture than vocabulary.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Jaidee always insisted that the Kingdom was a happy country, that old story about the Land of Smiles. But Kanya cannot think of a time when she has seen smiles as wide as those in museum photos from before the Contraction. She sometimes wonders if those people in the photos were acting, if perhaps the National Gallery is intended to depress her, or if it is really true that at one point people smiled so totally, so fearlessly.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Even our prayers are to farang, Kanya thinks. A farang antidote for a farang plague.

Take any tool you can find. Make it your own, Jaidee said in times past, explaining why they consorted with the worst. Why they bribed and stole and encouraged monsters like Gi Bu Sen.

A machete doesn't care who wields it, or who made it. Take the knife and it will cut. Take the farang if they will be a tool in your hand. And if it turns on you, melt it down. You will have at least the raw materials.

Take any tool. He was always practical.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Hock Seng doesn't pause to ask any more. He turns and runs, as fast as his old bones will carry him. Cursing himself all the way. Cursing that he was a fool and didn't put his nose to the wind, that he let himself be distracted from bare survival by the urgent wish to do something more, to reach ahead.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“There's a certain trick to ignoring her bad moods. The first time Jaidee met Kanya, he almost thought she was stupid, the way her face remained so impassive, so impervious to any hint of fun, as though she were missing an organ, a nose for smell, eyes for sight, and whatever curious organ makes a person sense sanuk when it is right in front of them.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Jaidee never told her how they first met, not even after they were married. It was too humiliating to admit to what she had seen in him that night on the street. To tell her that the man she loved was that other fool as well.

And now he prepares to do something worse. He puts on his white dress uniform while Niwat and Surat watch. They are solemn as he prepares to bring himself low in their eyes. He kneels before them.

"Whatever you see today, do not let it shame you."

They nod solemnly, but he knows they do not understand. They are too young to understand pressures and necessity. He pulls them close, and then he goes out into blinding sunlight.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“The Grahamites who preach on the streets of Bangkok all talk of their Holy Bible and its stories of salvation. Their stories of Noah Bodhisattva, who saved all the animals and trees and flowers on his great bamboo raft and helped them cross the waters, all the broken pieces of the world piled atop his raft while he hunted for land. But there is no Noah Bodhisattva now. There is only Phra Seub who feels the pain of loss but can do little to stop it, and the little mud Buddhas of the Environment Ministry, who hold back rising waters by barest luck.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Everything is change. It would be good for you to remember it. Clinging to the past, worrying about the future. . . It's all suffering.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“She is begging for survival, and he speaks of fantasy.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Men are loyal when you lead from the front. I won’t have a man wasting his time winding a crank fan for me, or waving a palm frond just to keep me comfortable like those heeya in the Trade Ministry. I may lead, but we are all brothers. When you’re a captain, promise me you’ll do the same.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl
“Anderson forces a laugh. "Of course." He smiles, but inside he is seething. He'll have to deal with Raleigh. And now perhaps Carlyle as well. He's been sloppy. He eyes the ngaw with disgust. He's been waving his latest interest in front of everyone. Grahamites, even, and now this. It's too easy to get comfortable. To forget all the lines of exposure. And then one day in a bar, someone slaps you in the face.”
Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl

« previous 1 3 4