The Windup Girl

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Book cover of The Windup Girl

Book description

WINNER OF THE HUGO, NEBULA, LOCUS, JOHN W. CAMPBELL AND COMPTON CROOK AWARDS

The Windup Girl is the ground-breaking and visionary modern classic that swept the board for every major science fiction award it its year of publication.

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Windup Girl as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Climate change aside, what scares me the most about technology today is the capacity for bioengineering to run amok.

What happens when scientists monkey around with deadly viruses—and one escapes from the lab? What if some rogue researcher creates an entirely new lifeform that proves toxic to humans? Or some experimental microbe—an effort to save the world’s butterflies, for instance—proves to kill off bees instead?

This novel, which won major awards, depicts a frightening future world wrought by bioengineering. And you wouldn’t want to live there anymore than I do. 

Paolo Bacigalupi’s biopunk science fiction novel explores a 23rd-century post-food crash Thailand after global warming has raised sea levels and depleted carbon fuel sources. The main character, Emiko, is a ‘windup,’ a modified human who is vilified and abused by humanity, despite her abilities. I was struck by how well this work of ‘mundane science fiction’ used Emiko as an avatar for a trickster Nature after abuse by humanity through the disrespect of reckless gene-hacking, greedy corporate espionage, and arbitrary foreign takeovers. I cheered Emiko’s breakaway from her oppressors as she emerged from a cloak of obedience and embraced her…

What makes great worldbuilding, as opposed to just good worldbuilding? It’s hard to define, but the world should feel complex but not confusing, different but still relatable, and drive the story the author wants to tell. The Windup Girl remains my ultimate blueprint for how to get it right in my own novels. This novel follows several characters in 23rd Century Thailand that includes a refugee, an economic hitman, a well-meaning law enforcement officer, and a genetically-modified, synthetic human named Emiko. Climate change is a big theme and forms the basis for how the characters operate and survive in…

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A test of leadership, loyalty, and legacy. Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.

As the stakes rise and the fragile foundations of Terra Blanca begin to crumble, Rylie is forced to confront her own beliefs and faces a leadership decision that could change the course of history. Can she find the strength to make the right choice, or will her actions lead to the downfall of the very people she has vowed to protect?

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.


Thrust into a new world of power and responsibility, Rylie must navigate the treacherous waters of team dynamics and power struggles as she fights to make Terra Blanca a beacon of hope amidst the chaos. But her mission takes a sinister turn when a secret agent infiltrates the community, hell-bent on testing the innovative governance and social structures…


Paolo Bacigalupi is a creator of worlds. I love a good world. While I really would like to avoid the world he’s predicting, I can’t help but be amazed by his craftsmanship.

But what I enjoy most is that he manages to write about a genetically engineered sex worker with his “male gaze” checked firmly at the door. His story focuses instead on the hopelessness of being controlled right down the patent on your engineered chromosomes, and the hope of escape. In doing that he gives the reader a real opportunity to empathize with a good many marginalized people in…

From David's list on dystopian novels about the underdog.

Bacigalupi’s dystopian thriller draws a fascinating picture of a future Bangkok threatened by climate change and rising sea levels at the heart of a thrilling mystery. Anderson Lake, an American agro-business rep, teams up with the Windup Girl, Emiko, an engineered sex slave designed for wealthy Japanese who’s been abandoned on the streets of Bangkok, as he searches for the world’s last food bank amidst beautifully observed Southeast Asian cultural oddities and local politics, while bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. 

Imagine the teeming, dense city of Bangkok thrown into a future time. It’s inhabited by a corporate spy in search of food substances thought to have gone extinct. Another character, the windup girl in the title, is a bio-engineered human created to answer the decadent needs of Kyoto men. Emiko, as she’s known, is abandoned on the streets of the Thai city and longs to reside in one of the villages where people like herself can live independently.

Windup Girl has lots of characters. Their agendas interlock in various ways. According to some of the reviews I’ve read, that is…

From Janet's list on novels that wonder about the future.

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