The Windup Girl

  • by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Narrated by Jonathan Davis
  • 19 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-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 a 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, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of The Calorie Man (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and Yellow Card Man (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.


What the Critics Say

Hugo Award, Best Novel, 2010
Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2009
Best Books of 2009, Publishers Weekly
10 Best Fiction Books of 2009, Time magazine
Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy 2009, Library Journal

"This complex, literate and intensely felt tale, which recalls both William Gibson and Ian McDonald at their very best, will garner Bacigalupi significant critical attention and is clearly one of the finest science fiction novels of the year." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Windup Girl will almost certainly be the most important SF novel of the year for its willingness to confront the most cherished notions of the genre, namely that our future is bright and we will overcome our selfish, cruel nature." (Book Page)
"A classic dystopian novel likely to be short listed for the Nebula and Hugo Awards" (SF Signal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I'm two thirds the way through this novel, but I feel sufficiently confident thus far to post some comments. It's easy to appreciate why it has won significant awards.
Whereas I did not enjoy other works by the author, I may have to re-read and give them a second chance after this book.
It's hard not to use superlatives to describe 'Wind-up Girl'. From the start, this book is, in my subjective opinion, fascinating, stunning and visionary. I think some significant credit is also due to the excellent narration of Jonathan Davis (who, I'm noting, does a good job on several other books)
A twenty second century Bangkok is richly described and experienced through the lives of the central characters.
By moving between several characters whose lives intersect the novel keeps a freshness going between chapters.
It's not a hard science SF novel, in that the author does not get bogged down in the science of genomics, but neither does he commit any major howlers in his inferences and extrapolations. The characters are well fleshed and the story has a realistic progression. An entirely original work, though with perhaps more than a nod toward the works of other great authors such as Phillip.K.Dick. I anticipate that this will see a major cinematic adaptation at some point.
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- John


After investing 5 hours I have given up with this audiobook. There is way too much time dedicated to slow exposition as back stories are built. A simple activity such as hiding some cash in a hidey hole inside a bamboo wall takes about 15 minutes to achieve. For some reason I am stuck with the impression that most character conversations have to involve someone shrugging. It's a shame because the Asian post-civ setting is interesting but yes, I get it: Malaysian, Thai and Chinese people are deep thinkers whose complex cultural rules need to be navigated carefully. The trouble is that Bacigalupi hammers this home page after page after page (i.e. minute after minute after minute), at the expense of actual plot development. I perked up a bit at the introduction of the Windup Girl character, but she's barely in the first five hours of this story.
All the characters appear to be mired in their own personal misery, in a society that offers little joy. Fair enough if you like the semi-apocalyptic, post-civilisation genre, but there are other authors (Alistair Reynolds leaps to mind) who could convey the same mood but in a fraction of the time, and without sacrificing the depth that Bacigalupi seems to prioritise over action.
If there's an annotated version of this audiobook, I suggest you try that instead, unless you have infinite patience.
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- VicHoon "Victor Houghton"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 15-09-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios