The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl

3.8 197
by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, a new edition of the break-out science fiction debut featuring additional stories and a Q&A with the author.

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct,

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Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, a new edition of the break-out science fiction debut featuring additional stories and a Q&A with the author.

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, 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 this 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 and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly-acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

In this brand new edition celebrating the book’s reception into the canon of celebrated modern science fiction, accompanying the text are two novelettes exploring the dystopian world of The Windup Girl, the Theodore Sturgeon Award-winning “The Calorie Man” and “Yellow Card Man.” Also included is an exclusive Q&A with the author describing his writing process, the political climate into which his debut novel was published, and the future of science fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

In just 300 pages, Paolo Bacigalupi's Windup Girl uncoils its intertwined stories of bio-terrorism, genetic engineering, civil war, food plagues, and slavery. Set in Thailand, this stark dystopian novel has been the beneficiary of a groundswell of enthusiasm in hardcover. In paperback, we expect it to do even better. (Hand-selling tip: Critics have hailed this fiction as "disturbing...beautiful, fast-paced, exciting...and also a novel of hope." And as a "complex, literate and intensely felt tale, which recalls both William Gibson and Ian McDonald at their very best.")

Product Details

Night Shade Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Windup Girl 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 194 reviews.
StupidSchmuck More than 1 year ago
I bought "The Windup Girl" on a whim. After reading the back I decided to give it a try. Bacigalupi has invented a terrifying future. Filled with Blister Rust and famine. No longer does the human race rely on the old fossil fuel, that source is long gone. So is the idea of a global economy. What once took hours now takes weeks as humans ply the oceans as they once were in times long past. Airplanes are a form of archaic transport and even electricity is a rare resource. It's a world where the seeds of plants are worth mountains of gold and getting enough calories in a given day is an up hill battle. I found this story intriguing and hard to put down. It was well written and the author has the ability to bring his characters to life. Though many authors own that ability, it's still nice to read a book where you feel like you know how a character is going to react to a given situation. The idea of the heechy-keechy windup girls who move in a stutter of stop motion is so interesting. The only thing that gives away the biologically engineered human who walks among the crowds is their flutter of spastic movement. As if they are in a constant wake of a strobe light. This book is deep and will remain one of my favorites for a long time I'm sure.
Snuffle_Shuffle More than 1 year ago
The windup girl is a fascinating character with her odd movements and disposition, but the book is barely about her, which was disappointing. I found myself somewhat uninterested in the other characters and unsatisfied because I wanted to know more about the windup girl. The integration of Thai and Mandarin (I believe that's what it was) language was interesting but confusing at times. I was sadly disappointed by this book; it had a lot of potential (characters, setting, etc.) but I personally did not think it was executed as best as it could have been. An okay read all in all, but I think it could have been so much better.
RenLovesScary More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book tremendously! Bacigalupi takes you into a world where fruits are manufactured, gene ripped, and there is not enough to go around. Where living creatures are also gene ripped into working, living, breathing creations that are both loved and despised. I was lost in his world of yellow card immigrants, Megadonts and Cheshires (I want one). I'd love to see a second book of The Wind-up Girl. Wonderful read. Thank goodness for the release of Pump Six, a collection of his short stories. Tore through it in two days!
gezza More than 1 year ago
Like all avid scifi readers, I heard of Bacigalupi's Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, and I certainly wanted to read it. I fairly recently read a great short story of his previously, 'Pop Squad', in Brave New Worlds (a very well written, disturbing dystopian story), and I wanted to read more of him. The Windup Girl is one of the best novels of any genre I have read, in many years. It deserves its Hugo and Nebula awards, as it is a masterpiece of futuristic world building, within the confines of Earth's future. It's characters are sensitively portrayed in detail, and the plot is intricate, surprising in its turns, and penetrating in theme. It is what any aspiring speculative fiction writer wants to achieve. It is a benchmark, a masterpiece. I don't use superlatives like these too often. The novel is that good. Perhaps the only criticism I can lay before you - and it is more a case of personal taste than a technicality - is that I am not overly enamored of the third person, present tense POV for works of any substantial length. It took me quite a while to avoid the distraction of this less-than comfortable style of writing (albeit, I accept that it was useful for enhancing the immediacy of the tension of the tenor of the novel). Even in Bacigalupi's case, I don't necessarily think pros outweighed the cons with regard to this matter. Given the mastery of the writing, plot, characterization and themes, this criticism is a small matter. The world building astonishes me. As I hinted above, Bacigalupi creates a future society within the context of a future Earth, but transformed beyond expectation. Genetics is the keystone of what technically (and culturally) drives society, in a backdrop of an energy-starved population. It smack of truth, given the inroads in genetics and the Monsantos of this world. It also smacks of truth with current issues with regard to environmentalism. What makes this particular powerful, however, is representing this future world in the microcosm of a future Thailand. This was masterful, and Bacigalupi clearly researched this part of the world meticulously. I use the term 'microcosm' lightly, because it turns out that this future Thailand is a special place, unique and more than just a representative of humanity-to-come - it is in many ways the center of humanity's universe. Bacigalupi paints his characters well, and not a single one of them is just noble and righteous. They are all flawed, due to the circumstances of their lives, and because, quite simply, they are human. Even the New People. The key characters, Anderson, Hock Seng, Kanya, Jaidee, and The Windup Girl (Emiko), are expertly drawn and attract reader empathy, and yet are scrutinized for their frailties, whether they were self-constructed or were thrust upon them. Anyone with a predilection for speculative fiction, and particularly dystopian themes, will be immersed in The Windup Girl, and will want to read more. If you have discomfort with the Third Person, Present Tense POV style, try hard to ignore it - it's still well worth it. Five sparkling stars.
spartac More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed the world-building in Dune, you should be impressed with the interesting and different world Bacigalupi has created--and his writing style is exceptional.
Ferret_Mom More than 1 year ago
I had picked this book up and looked at it about a half dozen times then gently placed it back on the shelf deeming it too uninteresting for MY tastes. Then it pops up as a friends' read and makes me rethink my own stance, so I picked it up off the shelf again, didn't look at it, bought it and came home. I read everything else new I had picked up and then I settled down for what I thought would be a laborious read. I found myself frustrated feeling as if I had just stepped off a dirigible or Clipper Ship into a confusing place and time with no context of the times' past. It was unnerving to say the least. I have never read any of Bacigalupi's writing before and had no idea of his writing style so his world was very foreign to me in more ways than one. It's ok though, I got it finally... or at least I think I do. The world building leaves a lot to be desired since we have no explanation of this futures past except what is given via different characters memories. This can be somewhat confusing because in one instance I thought I had a reference of 500 years past the year 2000 but then another character speaks of stories his great grandfather told of foraging in the suburban areas after the fall of fossil fuels. I came to the conclusion it didn't really matter WHEN the novel was taking place but WHAT was taking place. After making this conscious decision I rolled with the punches and came out only slightly bruised. I am not really sure if I like this book or only think its ok, so I'm going with the 'like' option because I'm still thinking. I found the story itself paced slowly but that in a way is possibly intentioned by the author to convey a sense of place as well as leading us, the reader, into the mindset of the cities citizens because many of them are just sitting; waiting to see if they will work, will eat, will die, or will be killed. I found so many different varieties of life conveyed in this book and so many different subtexts it's hard to determine what if any of them were meant by the author or if it's my own need to quantify what I read. All in all a good Sci-Fi read. I say if you're still on the fence about reading it, go for it, you might find out you liked it despite your initial apathy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bacigalupi brings a fresh petspective to a genre that many thought only Stephenson could save...
PeterSabin More than 1 year ago
The extrapolation quality--the very warp and woof of science fiction--is both superb and all too conceivable. The social commentary implicit in the concept of 'yellow card' is also quite real (and sometimes ugly). Character development was consistently good and the complexity of the work contributed to my enjoyment. But foremost this is a darn good read. I look forward to other works by the author. Recommended highly.
Matt3223 More than 1 year ago
My rating is my opinion as a reader and how much I "liked" it... And this book surprised me... as I wasn't in to it near as much as I thought I would be. It was ok for me, but it's like it focused on the wrong areas... more windup girl! Almost felt like she was peripheral. I'll give a re-read one of these days and see what I may have missed first time through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rich, convoluted, beautiful! Well worth the time, and as good as the very best from authors like Bruce Sterling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An immersive and though provoking tale of our future. A future of all food companies running the world, rising oceans, and lack of fossil fuels. Definitly worth a read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hugo award winner...doesn't disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tulane1 More than 1 year ago
Terrific distopian book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read many future worlds. You can believe that we might fall into such a state, but I actually felt hope at the end, despite all the terrible events. Emiko at the end has fought for and won control of her 'soul' by the end.
Alebelly More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Ties together multiple threads seamlessly, and with an energy and pacing that makes the book impossible to put down. The realization of the Windup Girl is incredibly powerful. It was a bit hard to get into, the whole 'kink-spring' thing took me awhile to understand, but understand it's the characters and their ambitions which define this book. A fantastic read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A shattered future that is all too possible. Characters that you both love and hate. Good writing.
moonsweetie More than 1 year ago
Loved this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Patricc More than 1 year ago
The glowing words said, it seemed just a tad too long for the story. Like it was stretched to add more to the book. The story was complex and enjoyable. It did not play down to the reader. A few items were left to your imagination and might require a Google or other search engine. A great read set in a future dystopia where food is the major form of currency and most food groups have been destroyed or affected by genetic design flaws. I was taken enough by this book that I bought another by the same author. "Shipbreaker." It turned out to be a bit simpler to understand, or it may be I was familiar with Bacgalupi's universe by that time. There is another book, "The Drowned Cities." It looks like it fits in the same universe. It is a dystopian world after the sea has risen and oil has run out. Plague has swept through the planet because of errors in genetic codes released into the wild by the giant food companies. Quite a well constructed and thought out universe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago