The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Winner of multiple awards, including both the Hugo and Nebula awards, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi tells the story of a future in Thailand where global warming, pollution and depletion of fuel sources have impacted life to such an extent that energy is now acquired through manually wound springs, driven by massive genetically engineered animals.   Food production is controlled by giant global corporations such as AgriGen and PurCal who “”own”” seeds and the rights to distribute them; using bioterrorism and private armies to maintain their dominance in the food market. The world is frequently beset by problems such as plagues and pests caused by genetically modified foods and seed sterilization. Finding sources of energy is a constant strife and political problems in Thailand cause frequent civil unrest.
This is the world the “”windup girl”” inhabits. A product of it, Emiko is an artificially produced creature resembling a human girl, designed for physical attractiveness and subservience. Considered a vile non-human creature to human beings, she has no rights and can never legally be truly free. Her story is just one of a set of interweaving plots in this fascinating depiction of a grim future on earth.
Bacigalupi renders a rich, immensely detailed world, replete with complex, multi-faceted characters. More than just a fantastical science fiction novel, The Windup Girl is a powerful imagining of many social issues such as  bio-technology, politics, and capitalism.

Well deserving of its many awards, The Windup Girl is also a great read for those who might never usually consider a science fiction novel on their reading list.  I would recommend it to any open minded fiction reader.

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