Homer's Travels: Book: Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl"

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Book: Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl"

Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl" is a novel that has a new take on a dystopian world in some indistinct future.  The novel takes place in the kingdom of Thailand in a world of rising sea levels.  In a world of big agricultural corporations who control the new world currency of the calorie through bio-terrorism and genetically modified crop diseases, the Thai government struggles to maintain its independence.

The title character, the Windup Girl, is an artificial person created my the Japanese to replace their aging workforce.  The name comes from their stuttering movements that distinguishes them from real people.  Surprisingly, while she is the main pivot point of the plot that results in the capitulation of the Thais, the book really isn't about her.  She is just one of many characters followed by the narrative.  The book is more about corruption, coming from both within and without, that insidiously infiltrates and, in the end, strangles the Thai Kingdom, handing it over to the "calorie men".

While I as intrigued by the dark world Bacigalupi constructs, I found that there really wasn't a story there.  It was more like a snapshot of future history.  I kept waiting for a story to coalesce from the threads of the narrative and, in the end, I was a little confused.

Should I recommend this Nebula Award winning novel?  Well written.  Interesting world.  Colorful characters.  No narrative climax.  Frankly, I don't know.