Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
Fantastic, disturbing near-future sci-fi. Gene mutations and spread of genetically modified food that bears diseases that taint 'natural' crops has left the world in a famine, while rising sea levels have destroyed most coastal cities. Bangkok, however, due to massive engineering and successful wars between Thailand and it's neighbors, survives in a surreal animal power driven nightmarish state, and the machinations and plottings of some expatriate corporate types with a need to get their hands on the imperial seed bank drive the plot for the most part. The windup girl of the title, Emiko, is a Japanese creation abandoned after her owner left her in the city, and her 'life' has become a nightmare. Questions of civil rights for artificial life are hard to look at in a novel where humans suffer this much, but miraculously, Emiko's struggles are as agonizing, if not more so, as the humans she was created to obey.