A reading club with a view to the future

599 Paolo Bacigalupi: The Windup Girl

In a dystopian Bangkok, genetically engineered humans and sentient AI grapple with power, exploitation, and the consequences of technology.



"The Windup Girl" is a compelling and thought-provoking science fiction novel set in a near-future dystopian world. The story takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, where humanity grapples with the consequences of biotechnology and the depletion of natural resources. The novel presents a world profoundly affected by climate change, with rising sea levels, diminishing fossil fuels, and the emergence of new bio-engineered beings.


Title: The Windup Girl 

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi 

Publishing Year: 2009 

Publisher: Night Shade Books 

Length: 19 hours and 34 minutes 

5 main ideas

  1. Biotechnology and Ethics: The novel explores the moral dilemmas arising from the creation and exploitation of genetically engineered beings, including the windup girl Emiko.
  2. Climate Change and Resource Scarcity: Bacigalupi's world depicts the devastating consequences of climate change and the depletion of resources, driving societies to desperate measures for survival.
  3. Political and Corporate Power: The story delves into the intricate power dynamics between biotech companies, government officials, and marginalized communities vying for control in this dystopian society.
  4. Struggles for Identity and Freedom: Characters like Emiko grapple with their identities, seeking freedom and self-determination amidst societal oppression.
  5. Environmental Consequences: The novel serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of human actions on the environment, illustrating the need for responsible stewardship of the planet.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Captain Jaidee, he's so very military, yes? Very sexy. Man of action."
  2. "Oh, he's harmless. Just smells like a wet dog is all."
  3. "It would be wonderful to have a dancer's grace, wouldn't it? You know, to move like you're stepping over puddles of water without making a ripple."
  4. "Yes, I know the fruits of the gods are a little expensive."
  5. "You make very bad decisions. You think with wrong head."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "It's the white shirts you have to watch out for. They'll kill you and cut off your fingers for a watch fob."
  2. "They called me the monster behind my back, but you're the monster to my face."
  3. "It's difficult to recognize history when you're making it."
  4. "How do you defy gods? You laugh at them."
  5. "People die. The planet spins. We all want to matter."

5 dilemmas

  1. The Ethics of Biotechnology: The novel explores the ethical quandaries surrounding the creation and exploitation of genetically engineered beings like the windup girl, Emiko.
  2. Environmental Stewardship vs. Profit: Characters must navigate the dilemma of protecting the environment and preserving resources in the face of corporate greed and profit-driven practices.
  3. Individual Freedom and Identity: Emiko, the windup girl, grapples with the dilemma of seeking freedom and defining her identity in a society that treats her as property.
  4. Resistance and Survival: Characters face the dilemma of how to resist oppressive systems and survive in a harsh, resource-scarce world.
  5. Betrayal and Loyalty: Loyalties are tested as characters must decide between personal gain and standing up for what they believe is right.

5 examples

  1. AgriGen - A powerful biotech corporation with a monopoly on the seed market.
  2. Windup Girl Emiko - A genetically engineered humanoid creation owned by a powerful businessman.
  3. Anderson Lake - A representative of the American biotech company, AgriGen, undercover in Bangkok.
  4. Jaidee Rojjanasukchai - A revered captain in the Environmental Ministry's White Shirts, tasked with enforcing quarantine laws.
  5. Hock Seng - A Chinese refugee who finds himself entangled in the political and corporate intrigue of Bangkok.

Referenced books

"The Windup Girl" does not explicitly reference other books within the narrative. However, the novel draws inspiration from various classic science fiction works and environmental dystopias.

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"You make very bad decisions. You think with wrong head."

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