Monday, 1 October 2012

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Started: Sept. 8th
Finished: Sept. 24, 2012

This is what the future looks like.

Sea levels have risen.  Bangkok is protected from the ocean by huge dikes and pumps.   Whole forests of sacred trees stand as haunted lumber, and the appearance of a dragonfruit in the market is as puzzling and awe-inspiring a mystery as the appearance of a unicorn in downtown Vancouver.

Our great-great grandchildren live in a "calorie" economy.   Large machinery is driven by megadonts (genetically engineered elephants), and smaller devices by "kinksprings" that are wound by people or animals because global warming has made the everyday use of carbon-based fuels unthinkable.   But calories are not so easy to come by either:  the food chain has been catastrophically disrupted by genetically engineered accidents or attacks.  And the threat of a newly mutated plague is never far away.

This is another book that took me a long time to read.  It seemed far too vividly probable.  And the cast of characters too desperate, too corrupt, too sinned against, and too sinning to let you identify with any one of them.

I could never have finished it if the book weren't so brilliant.   Or if this were the depths of a dark November.

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