The Windup Girl

I’m sure that you’re motivated to read Paolo Bacigalupi’s first novel, The Windup Girl, because it

was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.

That, at least, was why I tried to read it (along with the fact that it tied with The City and the City for the Best Novel award at the 2010 Hugo Awards). Also, the description on Wikipedia sounded promising:

The Windup Girl, along with many of his short stories, explores the effects of bioengineering and a world in which fossil fuels are no longer viable. Bioengineering has ravaged the world with food-borne plagues, produced tailored organisms as mimics to both cats and humans, and replaced today’s fossil-fuel reliant engines with megodonts (an elephant-like beast), which convert food energy into work. Energy storage is accomplished through the use of high-capacity springs, as well as simply transporting food to feed either megodonts or human labourers. His writing deals with the ethics and possible ramifications of genetic engineering and western dominance, as well as the nature of humanity and a world in which, despite drastic changes, people remain essentially the same.

So I began to listen to the audiobook version of the novel.

After a couple of hours of listening, I got bored, so I did what I usually do in those circumstances: I put it aside, read other material for a couple of months, and then came back to the recording. This time I got through five hours and 16 minutes of it before I had to give up. It is so slow-going. Ordinarily I can put up with that, especially if the characters and the setting are compelling. While the setting certainly is interesting (23rd-century Thailand), the characters aren’t, and I didn’t want to know that much about this futuristic dystopia. Maybe it’s just me.

Categories: Books, Teaching & Learning