Windup Girl, The - Paolo Bacigalupi
The Windup Girl
Format: Paperback 544 pages
Date of publication: December 2010
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; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man" (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.
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I enjoy reading Thai-based fiction, the settings alone can make a pretty average book much more enjoyable for me. It's unusual, however, for such books to actually win awards for the quality of their writing but this one featured in Time Magazine's Top 10 Fiction list for 2009 and also won 'best novel' prizes in the Hugo and Nebula (both SF) awards. To me it's a cracking read (though I should admit that I 'read' it as an audiobook). Once I'd sampled it on a mate's recommendation it seemed good enough to justify me putting off reading the 3rd in the Stieg Larsson trilogy.
Undoubtedly, the Thai setting made it more engrossing for me (though this is Thailand in 200 years' time) and the (American) author seems to have a pretty good feel for all things Asian from an extended stay several years ago. The most annoying aspect of the book probably results from that visit too as he seems to have picked up a few words of Thai and is determined to use them as often as possible! So, in his frequent descriptions of food, whenever fish is involved, he always uses 'pla' though everything else is in English. The example which really got on my nerves is his (mis)use of the word 'khun' as a standalone translation of 'Sir' whenever anyone is speaking to a superior. No name following it, just "Yes, khun" though I suppose you/he could argue that this is just how people will talk 200 years from now.
It certainly didn't detract too much from a really exciting and entertaining book (IMHO!). Despite the further exploits of Lisbeth Salander, I already miss The Windup Girl.
Sounds an interesting read (listen) Gordie but I hope you did not pay this much for it
Nah, I subscribe to Audible (the postie's companion!) for £7.99 a month. Not so bad for 20 hours worth!
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I really enjoyed this book thought the story was really well paced with a strong understanding of asia culture. Cracking story.