The Windup Girl By: Paolo Bacigalupi
The Hugo, Nebula, Compton Crook , and the Locus awards winning novel, Windup Girl is exactly what modern science fiction should be. It is interesting and engaging as while as a brilliant satire on what modern life is and what it is becoming. Set in a futuristic Thailand empire, in which global warming has risen the levels of world's oceans, carbon fuel sources have become depleted, and manually wound springs are used as energy storage devices. One of the main differences between our world and the book's is that in the story there has been one plague after another and it has almost completely destroyed the world's food supply. This leaves most of the world under control of these so called calorie companies, which genehack new crops resistant to viruses. With this environment Bacigalupi makes the reader question the values of science and the whether or not it can go unchecked. Uncontrolled scientific researched caused all the problems this world now suffers and yet genetic research, that is for the most part illegal, is the only thing allowing the last of humanity to survive. By showing both the good and bad side, the author leaves the idea in a gray area which forces the reader to make their own choice. Bacigalupi gives pretty much complete control to the calorie companies who use methods like creating crops that are sterile so that must buy new seeds every year, much like companies in our time that specialize in genetic modification.
The language all through out the novel is near poetic and the descriptions are so beautiful and hardening that the reader has no choice but to imagine it. Also Bacigalupi masterfully switches between the perspectives of its many important characters. One issue with the language is the fact that a good part of it is in Thai. It is a good mix between Thai and English and one can understand what is happening without speaking, the problem is that the Thai that Bacigalupi uses is greatly flawed. This takes a little something away from the experience and leaves one questioning why, if the Thai language is so important, did he not learn at least the basics. In addition, the story explores the idea of what truly makes something human. In the novel a new race has been created, they are called windup people. They are seen to be without a soul and not really human. They are giving dog like eagerness to obey and please, the men become soldiers and the women sex slaves. One of the points of view that the author uses is that of Emiko, a Windup girl, who is fighting the best she can gain rights and independence. Emiko's fight is not just against society but also her own programming, she is forced to be forever controlled and yet she still dreams and hopes for a better future. Bacigalupi really gets his viewers to think about what really makes us human, is it our genes so much so that even a slight variation on them creates something new or is it our ambition and faith in something greater. In short The Windup Girl embodies what science fiction does best of all: it remakes reality in compelling, absorbing and thought-provoking ways, and it lives on vividly in the mind.