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io9 Book Club Meeting: Paolo Bacigalupi's "Windup Girl"

Illustration for article titled io9 Book Club Meeting: Paolo Bacigalupis Windup Girl

The io9 Book Club is officially in session. This week, we'll be discussing Paolo Bacigalupi's novel The Windup Girl, which was just nominated for a Nebula Award. Let's start talking in comments.

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One of the reasons we picked this book for the reading group is that Bacigalupi has written a very ambitious novel whose contents are likely to inspire debate. He's created a future where peak oil has driven the high tech industry toward green innovations like ultrahighpower springs. And he's also thrown an unexpected curveball into his futuristic timeline: Thailand has miraculously come through the agricultural and human plagues with something more valuable than oil. The Thai government has a seed bank which contains genetic material that could help this once-downtrodden country become one of the richest in the world.

The problem is, rebuilding the world's food supplies is hindered at every turn by corruption in the Thai government and among international argibusiness concerns that want to do business with the government. There's something deliciously realistic about the way Bacigalupi weaves together stories of men who chase down the origins of genetically-engineered fruit, ghosts of government-mandated murders, and the life of a woman whose entire genome was hacked together in a lab.

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Bacigalupi will be joining us for a discussion on Friday, but in the meantime, check out the interview we did with him here, where he talks about living in Asia and his interest in environmental science. You can also see what we said about the book when we reviewed it.

So what did you guys think?

For those who want to get ready for our next meeting: The next book will be Kage Baker's Sky Coyote, and we will be meeting March 23.

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DISCUSSION

I was so excited about this book because I loved "Pump 9" but I'm afraid Bacigalupi works better for me as a short-story writer. It took me forever to slog through TWG, especially once I grew to hate his characters. The sex scenes with Emiko reeked of male fantasy and made me cringe with embarrassment for him. Worse, I kept forgetting that this was a world ravaged by food shortages. Maybe some time spent among people who were *actually starving* would have helped — everyone we met was perfectly cavalier about food and no one worried about where their next meal was coming from. Being *told* that "calorie men" (*snort*) = teh evil really didn't have the same emotional impact, even after the 100th time.