Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi's fabulous first novel has garnered so much acclaim, not to mention awards -- the Nebula, the Hugo, the Locus -- that my own praise is late to the party. If you haven't yet read The Windup Girl, consider listening to the audiobook narrated by Jonathan Davis (Brilliance; 19.5 hours).

It's set in Thailand in the future. The worldbuilding is strong -- Earth is a post-petroleum dystopia where a handful of global bioengineering corporations control food production. Calories are precious measurements of energy. The windup girl of the title is Emiko, a manufactured human being discarded by her Japanese owner when he left Bangkok. Emiko somehow captures the hard heart of Anderson Lake, an undercover corporate agent who is looking for sources of untainted genetic food stock in Thailand. There are other well-developed characters (all but one are adults), the plot is absorbing, and the pace is that of a literary thriller.

Readalikes: The City and the City by China Mieville; River of Gods by Ian McDonald; Neuromancer by William Gibson; Fairyland by Paul McCauley.


Evelyn in Canada said...

I doesn't sound like that's too far in our future. Or maybe I shouldn't read the likes of Michael Pollan...

Lindy said...

Evelyn, I know what you mean (being a fan of Pollan myself) and that is what adds a feeling of horror to The Windup Girl. It's too bad that corporations like Monsanto are real rather than being fictional inventions.