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The Windup Girl [Hardcover]

Paolo Bacigalupi
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Oct 2009
What Happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits? And what happens when said bio-terrorism forces humanity 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 questions.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (14 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597801577
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597801577
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 597,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Bacigalupi is a worthy successor to William Gibson: this is cyberpunk without computers (Time Magazine)

Not since William Gibson's pioneering cyberpunk classic, NEUROMANCER (1984), has a first novel excited science fiction readers as much ... Paolo Bacigalupi is a writer to watch for in the future. Just don't wait that long to enjoy the darkly complex pleasu (The Washington Post)

An exciting story about industrial espionage, civil war, and political struggle, filled with heart-thudding action sequences, sordid sex, and enough technical speculation for two lesser novels (Cory Doctorow)

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 (starred review)) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The winner of five major SF awards, The Windup Girl is both a heart-stopping dystopian thriller and a razor-sharp vision of our near future. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new number one author 24 July 2010
By clyxylc
I am one of the `Malayan Chinese' as depicted in this novel, and I am simply astonished at how real and accurate Bacigalala's grasp and hold of the socio-political undertones of Thailand and the Malaysian Chinese are in this novel. Many times I find myself flipping to the front to check the author's name to see if he really isn't Asian and then to the tiny write-up of himself to see if he lived in Asia for decades. Iowa born. Hmmm.....
Lot's of great dystopian lit out there, but this one really hit home for me simply because of its Asian setting. Could actually picture dystopian Bangkok all around me as I read this book.
Ok constructive rascist views aside, this book is one of the best pieces of dystopic science fiction I have ever read, my other favorite being Dune (by the original Frank Herbert). I'm usually not one to pounce on new unheard of authors, but I came onto this having just finished Bagicalalala's YA novel Ship Breaker which blew me away (and is not in an Asian setting but in the Gulf of Mexico). I started the book with the presumption that this was no way going to be better than Ship Breaker. But the book proved me wrong 15 minutes in. An exciting, thrilling, dystopic romp to the finish. I am hungry for more Bacgialala now.
Why the hell is it taking till December for paperbacks of Pump Six (his short story collection) to be released?!??!!!! I simply can't afford the hardcover versions going for $400 over at the moment!!!!
Congratulations for being my new number one author farang Paolo. Hurry up and show us what else is in your imagination.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex and wonderfully satisfying novel. 9 Feb 2012
Most science fiction falls into one of two camps. The first consists of poorly-written, plot-driven page turners that are like McDonalds Happy Meals - satisfying to eat but you feel cheated afterwards. The second is aiming rather higher, aspiring to be literary fiction, but normally falling short and failing to deliver much of a story either - a bit like "nouvelle cuisine", with its dainty portions that hardly add up to a decent mouthful.

Here we have a book that manages to fall into both camps with resounding success. First, it's incredibly well-written. The prose is evocative without being florid, the register is infallible, and structurally it's like a Breuget timepiece. Politically it's very interesting - the relationships between the various tribal and ethnic factions in the book are entirely credible and persuasive. Although it's set in Thailand, where all but three or four of the main characters have non-Anglicised names, I never once struggled to remember who was who. But it's the story that is the main thing - part love affair, part political thriller, part dystopian nightmare, part pure speculative fiction. I really couldn't put it down, and I'm sure that Bacigalupi will go on to write even better, more intense books than this. I, for one, can't wait. For me, his only rival is Iain M Banks, and that's very high praise from me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By zerot
For a debut novel this is an amazingly confident story. Bacigalupi has succeeded where so many new authors fail and has managed to create a wholly believable future world. Climate change and genetic engineering have wreaked havoc across the globe and the Kingdom of Thailand is a bleak, sweltering place. The story follows a number characters as years of political and cultural machinations come to a head. One of these is Emiko, the windup girl. A genetically engineered "new person" whose built-in enhancements are off-set by the imperfections designed to please her creators. As she strives to overcome her programming her life intersects with the other protagonists as the Kingdom goes into meltdown.

The science is clever and engaging and supports the plot and moves the story forward without getting in the way. Comparisons with William Gibson are justified although I found Bacigalupi probably a little more accessible than Neuromancer etc. The dialogue crackles and sizzles with the rising tempo of events and Bacigalupi captures the different personalities and perspectives of his main characters brilliantly. I wasn't sure that one of the leads - Hock Seng - was that crucial to the plot and his segments are probably the weakest. But the book moves along at a slick pace and only seems to drag in a few places.

All the nominations and awards are well deserved. Read it and wait in anticipation for the seque.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chekov once observed that, `If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.' In The Windup Girl, an entire armoury is carefully hung on the wall in the first half of the book. In the second half, much of the tension derives not from wondering whether tragedy will befall 22nd century Bangkok, but how this will come about. It says much about The Windup Girl that the onrushing apocalypse - not the fate of its characters - provides the main narrative drive.

The Windup Girl's world is one devastated by overpopulation, environmental damage and resource depletion; readers familiar with the 'biopunk' subgenre of science fiction will recognise elements of the book's premise. Early in the 22nd century, fossil fuels are all but exhausted, genetically-modified plagues and catastrophic climate change have destroyed much of the world's farmland, and calories are the new currency in this climate of scarcity. Mid-Western `calorie companies' control much of the supply, locked in an arms race with the plagues unleashed by their competitors. The protagonist, Anderson, is a company man, undercover as a venture capitalist, attempting to exploit the Thai elite's scheming and power struggles to lay his hands on the country's seedbank. He encounters the titular windup girl near the start of the book, a genetically-modified geisha kept captive in a brothel. Their affair goes on to precipitate chaos in Bangkok.

Bacigalupi deserves credit for creating a vivid, well-realised setting. Every turn of the page reveals a thought-provoking new detail of his unhappy world. By confining the action to Bangkok he creates an atmosphere of claustrophobia and of being buffeted by external events which perfectly suit the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Package received in good time, item as described, very happy.
Published 12 days ago by Emma Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars The (fairly) near future.
I'm not a big fan of the sort of sf set in galaxies far, far away, a long, long time ago as they are usually Lord of the Rings-type fantasies dressed with super-science and... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Mark Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars; interesting and imaginative, but with a bit of the Kilgore...
This was an interesting and for the most part, engrossing speculative read: a genre classice of "biopunk" and "genepunk", apparently. Read more
Published 1 month ago by enthymeme
4.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting ideas
The characters and pace of the book are both f=great and some of the ideas seem realistic but let's hope not prophetic.
Published 2 months ago by Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars Top of the Pile
Amongst the quite literally thousands of Sci-Fi novels published every year this one was by a clear margin the best of 2009 and thoroughly deserved its' plaudits and awards. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I loved this book. A realistic vision of the future after collapse of industrialised society. It took me a little while to get into, as there wasn't one particular character I... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Daniel Malcolm
1.0 out of 5 stars For a minority of listeners...huge fail.
This is a review of the audio book. I plan to read this on my kindle because, having tried to listen to it, I cannot tolerate the ridiculous pronunciation of Thai words and places. Read more
Published 5 months ago by mandylouise
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Now this I did enjoy, a really good idea and well written to boot. Would transfer to film well I would have thought! - 4 stars
Published 6 months ago by ebbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great great book
Love this book. Really interesting concepts of possible future effects on society and the planet of GM crops and the aggressive corporations that push them. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ironzionryan
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable tale
While it could be slightly slow at times, it could also be very action packed and brutal (although not gruesome) at others. Read more
Published 9 months ago by K. Royle
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