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.
BONUS AUDIO: In an exclusive introduction, author Paolo Bacigalupi explains how a horrible trip to Thailand led to the idea for The Windup Girl.
©2009 Paolo Bacigalupi; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"This complex, literate and intensely felt tale, which recalls both William Gibson and Ian McDonald at their very best, will garner Bacigalupi significant critical attention and is clearly one of the finest science fiction novels of the year." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Windup Girl will almost certainly be the most important SF novel of the year for its willingness to confront the most cherished notions of the genre, namely that our future is bright and we will overcome our selfish, cruel nature." (Book Page)
"A classic dystopian novel likely to be short listed for the Nebula and Hugo Awards" (SF Signal)
Love epic sci fi and fantasy, but hate looking of really good books. So many duds out there. I am gamer too.
Very good hard core sci fi in the world it is set, with a message that is not preachy, but a very slow moving story. If you like story over action then this a good book for you. The story follows characters who seem to have very little interaction that leads to a chain of events that reach the book's conclusion. The world is gritty and grimy, set between the few haves and the all the rest of the have nots. The wind up girl is not electrical/mechanical but is genetically engineered. Which to me makes her still human, but how she is 'programmed' that makes her the way she is. It is the simple fact that she is made that is how others perceive her. The narrator is very good, he can jump from an American male to an Asian woman without a hitch. His voice is clean and clear. Over all the book has the feeling that is should be great, but in the end is somehow lacking.
A brilliant "biopunk" novel set in Thailand, in the post-petroleum age where genetic engineering has unleashed plagues on crops and people alike, and Thailand maintains its independence by preserving its sacred heritage seedbanks, untouched by Western "calorie companies."
The main characters are Anderson Lake, an undercover "calorie man" (which makes him a bad guy, basically, though he does have his occasional redeeming moments), and Emiko, the Windup Girl, a genetically-engineered "new person." However, there are several other POV characters in the book.
This is a pretty glum view of the future, and some of the technological changes struck me as unlikely, but for the most part, it was a convincing dystopia. The only problem was that none of the characters were entirely sympathetic (except Emiko, who was flat, personality-wise), and with the shifting POVs in each chapter, it's hard to get engaged with any of them. Only towards the end do all their separate storylines come together.
Also, be aware that there are a couple of viscerally described rape scenes, and the portrayal of Thailand (and other Asian cultures) is rather off-puttingly exotifying.
Nevertheless, for the story alone, it's still one of the best SF books I've read in years.
I am not typically a sci-fi reader. I was simply tired of my usual reads and wanted something different. Although the reviews for this book are highly polarized - I loved it. Great story, many layers, unexpected twists, very well written and developed. The narration by Jonathan Davis is simply the best. Listening to him alone is enough reason to recommend this book. This is the first 5 star rating I have given in the 2-3 years I have been a member of Audible.com.
Semi retired CPA, Sarah's mom, corgi mom, avid traveler, political junkie, somewhere north of ATL
This is not the type of book I usually read or listen to. I chose it because I wanted a change of pace over my usual read and because of the reader reviews .I am so glad I did. It is one of the best listens I have discovered on Audible.com and recommend it highly. I am not surprised to see it win an award. Can't wait to listen to his latest.
The narration was superb, the writing was fluid and detailed, character development was spot on, but I just couldn't get into the first half of this book. I wanted to like this book, and kept waiting for a hook to capture my attention, but it never came, instead it just trudged along.
The story very slowly and often painstakingly unraveled in the first half, introducing main characters who I didn't care about, and situations that didn't spark an interest. Even the hook of the book 'the new people', took most of the book before anything of interest happened.
It seems that when something interesting in this book did happen, it was dropped rapidly in replacement of something boring. I had hope when something unique happened with a 'new person' and the discovery of a great ability, but was let down once again when it was not explored.
Characters such as Yates and the scientist seemed to have great potential, but were never developed, and items such as the windup spring, and northern territories had great potential but were left in the dust. Exciting areas like Calorie companies and Gene Rippers were barely investigated, yet internal conflict between bland government agencies were written to near exhaustion.
The second half of the book does pick up, with unique and new concepts about survival, ethics, and commerce, and introduces more action, but it couldn't save the book for me.
The world that Paolo Bacigalupi has created is a fantastical one, capturing the world in the midst of great change. In it we are shown how even though everything is changing culture does not change as fast as the world around it.
Jonathan Davis does an amazing job narrating this story; I am totally blown away by his performance. He fills the characters with so much life, making them each a vivid character with their own desires and fears. His ability to create a palpable difference between the different Asian cultures is fantastic.
I really enjoyed the science fiction aspects of this story, the new words, the blending of different languages, new creatures, and most of all interaction between the different characters. Every character expresses their desires and fears as the story moves along at a perfect pace, almost all of the characters are both hero and villain, living in some shade of gray. Good stuff.
There are some very brutal scenes in this book where I feel the author went WAY overboard, to the point that I almost stopped listening and deleted the book, but instead I turned the player up to 3x speed and got past them, it was worth it (but I think it would be a better story leaving some things to the imagination instead of spelling them out in horrifying detail.)
Optical Engineer from San Jose, CA.
Most definitely. Jonathan Davis is a fantastic reader, and he is particularly good at portraying the darker side of life, which this book is full of. For a male reader, I think he is amazingly good at portraying the emotions of the female characters.
It is very similar to Ship Breaker in its post-apocalyptic themes. On the intrigue side of things, I would say that it is similar to Alastair Reynolds books, but with a much less fantastic setting.
Jonathan Davis really brings the characters to life: their pain, their conniving spirits, their confusion, and especially their insanity.
I have come to realize that I don't personally enjoy this type of book as much as others. It isn't a very "fun" story, but this type of book never is. It has some very serious themes, and of course, lots of sexual content and a rape scene. It is a story of very complex motivations and conflicting goals.
Usually I'm happy if I don't notice the narrator at all, but for The Windup Girl I'll make an exception. The reading actually enhanced the story for me, and I'll now seriously consider buying other Audible books just on the basis that they're narrated by Mr Davis.
I didn't know what I was going to get with this book. What I got was a great listen and a thought provoking concept that I still think about several months after having listened to it. I'm a big Sci-fi buff and it's unusual to run into truly unique concepts.
This book shows a very possible future where we have burnt out all the energy sources we had buried in the ground. How would you transport yourself in such a world? How would you feed yourself? This book creates such a world through inference. It doesn't spend a lot of time telling you how things got the way they are, nor does it preach green at you. It focuses on what life would be like in such a place.
If you're looking for something different and unusual, this book is for you.
Paolo Bacigalupi has written a book set in Bangkok inspired by a visit he made there. In this grim science fiction work, he presents a bleak story that will not turn the listerner loose. Social, economic, technological, and biological issues all come together to propell a story of and study of the human condition.
This is my first foray into science fiction and I am impressed. This is one mind bending ride. I would think that SF fans would find this volume a step apart. Those who are willing to approach this book with an open mind and willing to get through some dry parts (for me) will be rewarded.
The narration is excellent.
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