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The Windup Girl Audiobook

The Windup Girl

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Publisher's Summary

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.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 2010
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2009
  • Best Books of 2009, Publishers Weekly
  • 10 Best Fiction Books of 2009, Time magazine
  • Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy 2009, Library Journal

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (4927 )
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3.7 (3209 )
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4.1 (3186 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jefferson 01-27-11
    Jefferson 01-27-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Scary Fluid Line Between Natural & Unnatural"

    The Wind Up Girl is a strong work of dystopia science fiction filled with imaginative, vivid, and provocative ideas, settings, and characters that cast a horrible light on our present world here and now. The novel takes place in the capital city of a future Thailand that is barely holding out against global warming, scarcity of fuels and foods (calories), and prevalence of mutating, genetically engineered plagues that attack flora and fauna. Powerful genetic-agricultural corporations who control the world food and gene supply are itching to get their hands on Thailand's secret, "natural" seed bank. Genetically engineered people (wind ups), elephants, and cats play their roles (or break free from them). In this situation Bacicalupi tells his story from the point of view of several compelling characters whose schemes and dreams and destinies become ever more intertwined as the novel progresses.

    Some reviewers have complained that the novel is too slow, especially in the first half or so, but I found it completely engrossing. Some reviewers have said that there are no likable characters, but found all of them very human and increasingly compelling. I sympathize with the reviewer who said that he'd have preferred shorter or fewer of the movie-type action scenes that kick in as the novel surges through its climax, although the reader, Jonathan Davis, does such a splendid job that I found myself excited rather than repulsed by the action.

    Jonathan Davis delivers a virtuoso performance, convincingly reading parts for a Japanese wind up girl, an aging Chinese refugee entrepreneur, a Thai double agent, an American corporation operative, and more, his voice becoming appropriately tender or intense, cynical or ominous, jaunty or morose, depending on what's going on in the story.

    All in all a fine listen!

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim 09-29-09
    Tim 09-29-09
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    "Spellbinding"

    At first I thought the book was a little slow, then as events unfolded, I found myself thinking back to the earlier chapters. The characters were engrossing and very real and the future presented was believable.

    This listen was good enough that instead of listening only on my commute, I would keep it playing after I got home.

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Lake Oswego, OR, United States 11-03-10
    Dr. Lake Oswego, OR, United States 11-03-10 Member Since 2017
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    "Outstanding - great story - fabulous narration"

    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.

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Garland, TX, USA 03-21-10
    Robert Garland, TX, USA 03-21-10 Member Since 2006
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    "A Very Different Sort of Story"

    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.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Coffin 09-30-09 Listener Since 2009
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    "Hard to believe this is a debut work."

    Great narrator - reminded me of Muller. I absolutely loved the story. Follows 4 characters during a revolution in the future. The future however felt believeable and scary. I actually saw an ad yesterday about using algae for fuel. It kind of spooked me out. You do have to pay attention to the details in the beginning, but it is worth it in the end. Congratulations for Paolo, he has a bright future.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael G Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 10-12-12
    Michael G Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2016
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    "A compelling and engrossing literary masterpiece"

    Most dystopian visions suffer from either a lack of a credible transition phase from the present to the timeframe of the story or the description of the future is too shallow and sparse to convey a sense of believability that leads to immersion in the new world. In The Windup Girl, PB delivers what can be described as a textbook example of how to "do it right." In this case, global warming has led to rising oceans (placing littoral communities at risk) and environmental collapse. Man has already compounded the problem by attempting to "gene hack" plants for the food supply which has led to new and potentially fatal diseases. Cheap energy sources are also gone; while electricity is still available, the world operates in a quasi-mechanical state where human and animal energy is utilized. Because of disease, nation states have isolated themselves which has led to global economic collapse. The story begins in the early stages of a new expansion and takes place exclusively in Thailand.

    Part of the appeal is the depth and breadth of the varied elements that go into crafting a complex societal structural. PB captures all the various elements in their gory detail: nationalistic protectionist behaviors, foreign nationals regarded as undesirable aliens, greedy imperialistic foreigners out to steal national resources, along with the common folk with retention of religious superstitions such as Buddhism, purveyors of vices, and the governmental infighting & politics. Into this milieu comes a "cereal" man who is secretly pursuing seed stock that may provide new genetic backgrounds resistant to disease and a "windup girl" who is an example of "new people" or genetically engineered humans produced by Japan to cope with their declining populations and at the same time, regarded by the Thais as abominations without souls.

    While the early sections suggest a love story (a la West Side Story) between a foreigner and the windup girl in a land where neither is warmly received, the deeper exploration is the human struggle for stability and sustainability under conditions where little is sustainable. With the ever evolving biological threat, even that which is regarded as human may not survive. The dilemma is between the preservation of practices because of familiarity, comfort, and historical legacy versus the need for adaptation by both the individual and society. Refreshingly, all the expected human foibles are present. There are no winners, only the recognition of genetic survival as the only truly long term goal.

    The narration is simply superb with comprehensive range of genders, ages, and ethnic groups. The flow and dramatic presentation is most appropriate and viscerally adds to the listening experience. Kudos to the narrator for an audible science fiction masterpiece.

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erica Magna, UT, United States 10-02-10
    Erica Magna, UT, United States 10-02-10
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    "Intriguing"

    Bacigalupi is very imaginative in The Windup Girl. Imagining a future where the growing of crops has been dominated by genetic engineers in the Midwestern US that release terrible plagues to ensure the viability of their own goods, he gives a chilling view of what might happen after petroleum reserves run out and global warming has flooded major cities. Very well written, from a variety of different viewpoints. I loved Jonathan Davis' narration--he did a very good job creating a unique voice for all characters and mimicking accents characters from various locales in Asia. The Windup Girl herself is very empathetic. As a warning, there are very graphic parts in the book, especially in regards to the profession the Windup Girl is forced into after she is abandoned by her original owner. Still, I highly recommend it. I gave it 4 stars because there were a few times when it seemed to drag a bit and was a little repetitive. But it's a great listen if you've got the time.

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurene New York 11-14-10
    Laurene New York 11-14-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Good book, terrific performance"

    This is like a Graham Greene novel, set in a future world in which bioengineering and energy shortages have altered everyday life a lot. The Kingdom of Thailand is a self-isolated nation whose independence from the "calorie companies" that supply the world's food (engineered so that customers can't grow it themselves and are stuck paying the calorie companies through the nose) is made possible by rigorous environmental regulations and prohibitions against imports like the title character.

    There's scheming, double-crosses, conspiracies, corruption, spying and everyone is motivated by a desperate self-interest. Because there are so many characters, many of whom don't come together until the end, it takes this book a while to build up momentum. Once it does, though, it's quite exciting, and even when you're not sure where it's going, the narrator's superb performance, subtly modifying his tone of voice with each character's point of view, and adding lots of small touches (he'll narrated the description of someone going through a bag looking for something exactly as the person himself would speak while doing it, for example), make it all very vivid.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julio Boston, MA 12-14-09
    Julio Boston, MA 12-14-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Exotic and wonderful"

    To get a feeling for this book, Mr. Bacigalupi has released various short fiction stories on the web (calorie man, yellow card man). This is a fantastic book. Its about an uncertain time in the future where corporate greed and unconcerned use of resources by everyone has led to a partial reversion of civilization. There is a bit of getting use to listening to foreign names and words, but beyond that the story is very well laid out. There are branching stories intricately woven together. There are no cop-outs, sticky situations aren't magically resolved, and the ending is fitting with the feeling of the story.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GerryO denver 11-20-09
    GerryO denver 11-20-09 Member Since 2017

    book addict

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    "Is This Our Future?"

    I hope not, but many things in this story may come to pass. A strange, fascinating tale. Best listened to slowly I'd say. Story is complicated and dismal but a terrific adventure. Do yourself a favor and listen....

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • David
    Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom
    6/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Warning before you start listening"
    What disappointed you about The Windup Girl?

    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.


    Has The Windup Girl put you off other books in this genre?

    No, love the genre.


    How could the performance have been better?

    It was just too lethargic.


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Nope.


    Any additional comments?

    Present tense narrations should be flagged with a warning.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Philip
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    6/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An excellent book to take a chance on"

    A beautifully write and intriguing story. Twists and developments to keep your attention. Narration is brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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