Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Release Date: September 1st 2009
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Dystopia
Series: Standalone (sadly)
Pacing: Medium to Fast
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? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.
“We are nature. Our every tinkering is nature, our every biological striving. We are what we are, and the world is ours. We are its gods. Your only difficulty is your unwillingness to unleash your potential fully upon it.”
Five QUINTILLION stars! Seriously though it has been such a long time since I stumbled across a book I love this much and to top it all off it’s set in a place I visited a lot on holiday while growing up: Bangkok!
Image Source: view image source
But this wasn’t the Bangkok we all know, it was one that is a result of the aftermath of global warming and what humans are doing to the planet. I read this book while on holiday in Thailand so I got a deeper experience of the many culture points in the plot as well as (believe it or not) some nostalgia for my childhood days when we used to stay a month in Thailand every year at Christmas. But don’t get the wrong idea, this was not a happy book, not even close it is dystopian after all. There were many interesting topics raised in this book as mentioned in the description and wow the author did a really good job of delivering.
What did I love so much about this book? Well basically everything! However the things I marvelled most were how the author managed to capture the diversity and culture of Thailand and really immerse the reader into the setting. This author has really done his homework which I give total credit for and he has also really researched possible futures for our world which when presented in this book felt all so real. With all the reality descriptions involved this was also quite sad for me to read at times because is that really where Thailand and all our world is heading to? To be honest now that I think about it I can’t say I’m surprised.
Then there was the topic of food, plagues and calories mentioned..
“Food should come from the place of its origin, and stay there. It shouldn’t spend its time crisscrossing the globe for the sake of profit.”
All I will say is we never know the value of something until it becomes scarce. The world building in this book is also an interesting topic to mention. The author has a very rich writing style and while he does a very good job of setting up the scene and describing events, he doesn’t spoon feed the reader on everything, it’s like he gives us a template and we add the minor details in ourselves. But OMG I fell in love with his writing style from the first page because trust me when I say this writing is just full to the brim with suspense even when not a lot is happening.
The characters were also very realistic and well thought of, even the minor ones we don’t see much of. Once again with the characters, this author was fully able to capture Thai culture and give us good impressions on what life is like in a post apocalyptic Thailand. There was also a hint of magical realism in this book as we get so immersed into the culture, some minor supernatural elements are brought to life. This only adds to the sense of wonder this whole book generates.
Who I’d recommend this for
So to sum it all up this was a beautifully written, well thought of and well researched masterpiece. Thailand and the whole dystopian situation are fully brought to life and there is an ending that left me utterly speechless and in awe.
This book is perfect for anyone who likes a new unique style of dystopian novel and one that confronts actual real world issues. It’s also for people who like to step out of their comfort zones and explore “distant lands” so to say. In fact this is one of those books I think everyone should read regardless so give it a go, you won’t regret it.