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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi March 20, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Mutants, Toys.
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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a horror story disguised as science fiction. Set in a Thailand surrounded by engineered plagues, the various players (Environment Ministry officials corrupt and ethical, paranoid Malaysian Chinese refugees, foreign devils, corrupt-only Trade Ministry officials and our central character) it is the story of a “new person”, a Japanese geisha creation discarded by her Japanese master because it costs too much to transport her back to Japan…trash.  She works in a brothel, displaying for brutal customers her genetic differences in a frankly inhuman way: no human would tolerate the treatment she endures (this book is hard to read at some points because of this).

She isn’t the only one brutalized here; the whole country has taken a beating, running out of food as plagues destroy staple crops, kill livestock and destroy even trees. Wars and rumors of wars over calories abound in southeast Asia, filling every page with existential dread.  The Environment Ministry tries to keep the plagues out;  the Trade Ministry wants to bring more foreign trade (and bribes and graft) into the country.  It isn’t long before Environment’s champion is betrayed by a co-worker, publicly shamed and then killed setting off a small war with Trade…into which the Windup Girl finds herself a pawn, and then perhaps a player.

Claustrophobic, emotional and visceral, the prose in The Windup Girl puts me inside the head of the major characters, which is pretty uncomfortable considering what they suffer.  Outstanding writing, even pacing and well-drawn characters make this horror story a real treat.

Buy it; the mp3 CD I link to above is only $23 and worth every penny for the great reading.  Even the women’s voices this guy does are unnervingly convincing. I mean, you realize it is a man reading, but the inflections are very convincingly female.

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