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)
This book is written for a very particular mindset. If you are very much into a dystopian/post-apocalyptic nightmare world where technology has run rampant this will hook you (as it did me) right away. However, to stick with it, you have to be comfortable with a book that alludes more than it describes and be able to bear with a relentless sense of hopelessness that pervades until the end of the book.
It IS a very well written book, but I confess I found it difficult to remain engaged at times because it could be very depressing and/or downright opaque.
Bacigalupi world builds through inference. He describes things like "rust" and talks about terms like "Calorie Man" early on but never actually gives a good description of what those things *are*, just what they mean to other people. It's not a tool unique to this book, but I guess I'm old fashioned and prefer to be told just what terms mean in the beginning so I could understand their context for the rest of the book.
Davis did an amazing job of narrating this book. All the accents he had to develop and bring in were difficult yet none sounded like a parody of Asian accents, but rather accents based on careful study of real accents.
Very interesting story of the near future with a Thai locale and characters. The authors view of the future with the coastal areas flooded, genetically modified crops and people and access to and control of food being the lever of poltical power was extremely well done. Jonathan Davis' narration was very good and at the same time non-obtrusive. His ability to represent the various characters of various ethnicities was very good. I am looking forward to reading or listening to Bacigalupi's other books that take place in the same future.
I took a while to warm up to this book but in the end I couldn't escape the future world Bacigalupi so vividly describes. I found myself caring, almost in spite of myself, about characters that ranged from misguided to unsavory to loathsome to tragic. I found the fantastical post-petroleum world of genetically engineered crops, creatures and plagues to be as haunting as Blade Runner's world of hovercars, slums and clones. In the end I found it a great new take on a science fiction future. I'll definitely read whatever Bacigalupi writes next.
Authors I enjoy: Adrian McKinty, Charlie Huston, George Pelecanos, Elmore Leonard and JK Rowling.
The story is entirely unique. The characters are nuanced and grow in the midst of their circumstances. The reader does a remarkable job telling the story.
Clever, provocative, possible
The bioengineered woman; she mirrored the struggle of oppressed people of all locations and times.
He did a lovely job, changing voices to fit characters, reading with feeling, just a really nice reder to listen to.
This imaginative extension of the consequences of genetic manipulation explores the evolution of moralities and prejudices in an all-too-believable future. There is a glimmer of optimism in the final pages which all but demands a sequel — which I hope will never be written. The book is complete as is. I particularly enjoyed the authors even handling of "shock-and-awe" events that allows them a proper place in the narrative while not allowing them to become the focus. I will pay more attention to GM creativity in the light of this gripping novel.
Greenhouse Thug Life
Mr. Davis was an excellent narrator, esp. considering the myriad of characters he brought to life: male and female, young and old, of various nationalities. I enjoyed listening to him immensely.
The future is moist. Bring towelettes.
I had resisted reading this book for a while because it seemed like a hipster vision of the future, all politically correct and probably hopeless. And for the first few chapters, I wasn't sure that I liked it. But as the main character was finally introduced, I began to care, and to believe in the world created by the author more and more. Finally, I couldn't wait to hear what happened next.
I will warn listeners that this book contains some scenes depicting the debasement and abuse of women that are very disturbing. Nobody comes out clean at the end, though I did find the end very satisfying. In fact, I will be seeking out more books about this world.
The originality. The world and time was a creative and thoughtful extenstion of the modern timeline.
Firs class science fiction!
In my top ten. The Windup Girl outdoes some of the great classics of a dark future.
Pick almost any scene, Mr. Bacigalupi creates such believable detail you can hear and smell his Bangkok after the
The epic chaos that leads to the fall of the government paints a broad picture filled with intimate detail.
... a vision so rich, terrifying, and real, your head will spin.
I can't wait for Mr. Bacigalupi's next work.
This story is dark, graphic, and full of unlikable characters. That is what made me give an overall rating of only 3. I didn't enjoy the story because I kept thinking that something would have to turn out positive, but it didn't. I also wanted to like one of the characters, and I didn't. Not even the Windup Girl herself...I didn't like her...I just pitied her.
The story is excellently written and from a very interesting perspective of a possible future. Other people may like stories that show the negative side of humanity; if you do, you will really enjoy this book. The author had vision...incredible vision, and I am always amazed at how people invent these worlds; in this he did an excellent job. The Narrator was superb and made me continue listening, even though looking at these characters was uncomfortable for me.
I'm two thirds the way through this novel, but I feel sufficiently confident thus far to post some comments. It's easy to appreciate why it has won significant awards.
Whereas I did not enjoy other works by the author, I may have to re-read and give them a second chance after this book.
It's hard not to use superlatives to describe 'Wind-up Girl'. From the start, this book is, in my subjective opinion, fascinating, stunning and visionary. I think some significant credit is also due to the excellent narration of Jonathan Davis (who, I'm noting, does a good job on several other books)
A twenty second century Bangkok is richly described and experienced through the lives of the central characters.
By moving between several characters whose lives intersect the novel keeps a freshness going between chapters.
It's not a hard science SF novel, in that the author does not get bogged down in the science of genomics, but neither does he commit any major howlers in his inferences and extrapolations. The characters are well fleshed and the story has a realistic progression. An entirely original work, though with perhaps more than a nod toward the works of other great authors such as Phillip.K.Dick. I anticipate that this will see a major cinematic adaptation at some point.
"Great story - Narrator on Valium"
Jonathan Davis MUST have been paid by the minute. I can't imagine any other reason for the glacial narration. Fortunately my Audible app lets me change the narration speed. I found "1.5 times" was about right. As a result, this was a considerably shorter book than I'd expected!
Now, the story: The Windup Girl is a fable of a world without fossil fuels, where mega-corporations claim Intellectual Property rights over genetically engineered cereal crops while millions starve. It's a story set in world where gene-hacked sub-class are quite literally, lower than trash.
It's story of contamination, where disease, superstition and revolution spread in the same way as suspicion, fear and depravity.
The Windup Girl exists in a place of poverty and decay, where your next mouthful of fresh fruit might see you coughing up blood in the gutter, and where the corrupted remnants of the police have become the most feared gang in the district.
It's challenging. Especially because of it's heavy reliance on Thai culture. So don't expect an easy page turner. That said, I absolutely loved it.
After investing 5 hours I have given up with this audiobook. There is way too much time dedicated to slow exposition as back stories are built. A simple activity such as hiding some cash in a hidey hole inside a bamboo wall takes about 15 minutes to achieve. For some reason I am stuck with the impression that most character conversations have to involve someone shrugging. It's a shame because the Asian post-civ setting is interesting but yes, I get it: Malaysian, Thai and Chinese people are deep thinkers whose complex cultural rules need to be navigated carefully. The trouble is that Bacigalupi hammers this home page after page after page (i.e. minute after minute after minute), at the expense of actual plot development. I perked up a bit at the introduction of the Windup Girl character, but she's barely in the first five hours of this story.
All the characters appear to be mired in their own personal misery, in a society that offers little joy. Fair enough if you like the semi-apocalyptic, post-civilisation genre, but there are other authors (Alistair Reynolds leaps to mind) who could convey the same mood but in a fraction of the time, and without sacrificing the depth that Bacigalupi seems to prioritise over action.
If there's an annotated version of this audiobook, I suggest you try that instead, unless you have infinite patience.
"Warning before you start listening"
This book was written in the present tense and narrated with remarkable lethargy. I wish I had listened to a sample first but the reviews were so good I just bought it. I normally listen to a book a week but I found I had only managed five hours in 3 weeks after I started listening to this. Slow plot development, laboured irrelevant descriptions of situations and all in the present tense. I have decided to give up at the 5 hour mark.
No, love the genre.
It was just too lethargic.
Present tense narrations should be flagged with a warning.
"A wonderful, involving read"
This book just grabbed me from the beginning. Although I didn't have huge sympathy for any of the characters, the world created - in the not-too-distant-future - is all too horribly believable. The results of global warming, over use of fossil fuels and genetic modification in the hands of giant corporations (Monsanto anyone?) have left Thailand as one of the only Asian countries that still has some freedom, with rampantly mutating diseases being kept at bay by harsh methods and humans only just managing to get enough to eat. The American 'calorie man' is a kind of spy, seeking genetic information, whilst getting involved with a japanese windup girl - a genetically modified human designed to help the aging population of japan. The story escalates as characters lives interweave and crisis piles on crisis for the people of Bankok. A satisfying, well plotted and beautifully narrated story, I was sorry when it finished.
"Excellent story and narration"
The story meanders a little in the middle but the ride is enjoyable and the ending is well worth the wait.
"Well Worth Persevering With"
I was ready to throw in the towel after 2 or 3 chapters. Glad I didn't as The Windup Girl proved to be a very entertaining and satisfying listen. Loved the development of the characters and the world they lived in. The slow pace didn’t bother me at all.
Very well performed by Jonathon Davies
"Good but lacked history."
loved the dystopian future stuff. Not enough history on the destruction of our modern day society to the future depicted.
"I was unable to engage with the concepts"
This book was so far into the realms of fantasy that I was not able to connect with the central concept. I think it takes a certain kind of thinking to latch on to the general theme and to want to read more. If you have this kind of thinking,it is probably enjoyable but not for me.
I could not hook into the concept and the theme of what was presented.
Narration skipped from one concept to another. Not really the narrator's fault
Felt unable to understand it and was sorry that I had downloaded it as I felt it was not within my realm of understanding.
"An excellent book to take a chance on"
A beautifully write and intriguing story. Twists and developments to keep your attention. Narration is brilliant.
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