Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Sep 30, 2009 in News, The Windup Girl | 14 comments

Raves for The Windup Girl

The reviews on The Windup Girl have been astonishingly good. Here’s the roundup, with links to the originals:

Publishers Weekly: (Starred Review) “Complex, literate and intensely felt tale, which recalls both William Gibson and Ian McDonald at their very best… clearly one of the finest science fiction novels of the year.”

Library Journal: (Starred Review) East meets West in a clash of cultures brilliantly portrayed in razor-sharp images, tension-building pacing, and sharply etched characters.

SF Signal: (Five out of Five Stars) “Disturbing… beautiful, fast-paced, exciting…and also a novel of hope. Unlike many dystopian authors, Bacigalupi knows that at our core humans always struggle against any challenge. While we may not consistently do right, we consistently hope to do better.”

SciFi Wire: “[an] extraordinary, virtuoso, shock-immersion rendering of [a] transformed world.”

Nancy Kress: “The political maneuvering is constant, intricate, and all too believable. So is the inevitable violence. However, more interesting than either are the choices — moral, practical, philosophical, emotional — that the characters are driven to make.”

Io9: “The Windup Girl is obviously about the geopolitics of the present… and yet Bacigalupi never slides into moralism or judgment. All his characters have their flaws and heroic moments … Ultimately that’s what makes this debut novel so exciting. It’s rare to find a writer who can create such well-shaded characters while also building a weird new future world.”

BookPage: “The Windup Girl will almost certainly be the most important SF novel of the year.”

I’m honestly blown away at the response. I felt very unsure of this book as I was finishing it, so it’s a huge relief to hear from more and more readers that it works for them. I think this is the moment where I thank my wife and son again for putting up with me for the last three years while I was writing it.


  1. Congratulations, Paolo! Can’t wait to read it!

  2. So that means you’re going to totally stop talking about how you aren’t sure you can write a novel, right? ;)

  3. lol. That would imply that I’m rational.

  4. It was a great book. Very international in flavor. Looking forward to your next one.

  5. Congrats! I’m in the middle of the book and I’m loving it!

  6. I am amazed. The problems I had with the book were minor indeed, minor enough that I would give the book ten stars of ten, as I figure it’s probably a 97/98% or so (and 9.8 stars rounds to ten).

    For this to have been your first novel, Mr. Bacigapuli, is utterly astounding. One hopes that you have not passed, with your first novel, a point of sustainability and can no longer keep up such exemplary work. You have set the bar high for yourself, high indeed, and I for one look forward to your upcoming releases.

    Also, I enjoyed many of the themes in the book. Although not as directly philosophical as Brave New World, many of the points raised I believe are much more relevant to modern society. This book, I believe, could become another dystopian classic.

  7. Loved it: it’s my favourite book of 2009.

    BTW, the Hock Seng character in “The Windup Girl” was Tranh in “Yellow Card Man”? I’m glad it got changed in “The Windup Girl” but am curious as to why it was Tranh in the first place.

  8. Yes, you’re right. Same character, but with a name change. It was Tranh, because I was busy shooting myself in the foot the first time around. I’ve got a link to a website where I talk about that, actually. I’ll dig it up for you.

  9. Thanks for the explanatory link. I recall finding the name Tranh incongruous when I read “Yellow Card Man”, but waved it away thinking that perhaps he’d adopted a Vietnamese name as a way of obscuring his ethnic identity.

  10. Paolo,

    I just finished the last pages of The Windup Girl only moments ago. I am on fire. My pores are not up to the task of cooling my fevered brow. I gulp water; I pant explosively.

    Well, that was the most fun I’ve had since Rhianna’s GQ cover.

    My compliments for a very fine book. I already miss Emiko and Kanya, and look forward to many more characters as interesting and surprising.

    Please continue the great work, and may your calorie count remain strong, your algae baths untainted.

    Tim Moorman

  11. Just finished Windup Girl. Of course I blazed through it, the first thing on my mind to do when I got home each evening. I found it entertaining, engaging, intriguing in plot, character, and of course theme.

    A few things could have been better, I thought. I expected the megadont union to play some part, since it was mentioned rather often early on, but didn’t. Seemed like a loose thread. If there were fewer characters, condensing some of their roles and function to progress the plot, I would have followed it better. In particular, the calorie company woman introduced toward the end seemed extraneous and bloating an already big cast. And the ending– The core of the novel to me was the love story between Emiko and Anderson, and I wanted the finale to somehow more satisfactorily resolve their relationship. Instead we are left with Gibbons, who was mostly an off-stage legend for most of the book.

    There were a number of places where my believability was challenged, which made it harder to accept the rest as realistic. First, when Anderson is flung around by a megadont in the beginning, we never hear again about his injuries. Again when Akkarat is injured by Jaimee (would he even allow himself so near a wounded Tiger?), we never hear again about his injuries. And would Akkarat personally torture and beat Anderson? As a high-ranking mininster, wouldn’t he have a thug do that? Also, Jaimee’s entry into the Trade ministry seemed far too easy.

    And the numerous typos eventually had me thinking that some combination of the author, editor, publisher and typesetter just didn’t care about producing a professional, competent text. But that’s all too common in the modern hurry-up world of publishing. Still, Paulo’s first novel deserved better.

    So much was so vivid, tense, sensual, beautiful and enthralling. I would have liked these few flaws to have been improved before publication. Paulo’s short stories I’ve always thought of as tight, succinct, tying all threads and leaving me feeling complete and resolved. I didn’t have the same feeling from the novel.

    But I’ve been spoiled by some real masterpieces, and perhaps unfair to compare. Still, The Windup Girl was an excellent expansion on the Calorie Man and Yellow Card Man, and I’m glad I got to see so much more of that disturbing and exotic world.

  12. Just finished reading The Windup Girl and it is the best read I’ve had in years. It is great to read a story that contains characters of such depth and complexity, while being able to see a little of ourselves in them.

    Bravo Paolo and I hope there is more to come.

  13. After looking for something great to read on our 3 wk tour of Europe,
    looking over the wares on sale at St.Mark’s Bookstore it became clear what I would pick.
    Bought The Windup Girl and put off opening it until the trip began.
    Echoes of Blade Runner and Japanese anime, all fine with me.
    After working w Wm Gibson for some years, enjoying Womack, Stephensen, Jeter nd Toffler, this was the best read I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in years.
    There was resonance in conversations struck up w Kent County barrister businessmen on Eurostar, Import / exporters and an official with the CDC while riding TAP.
    That’s a good amount of value already I thought enroute to getting out of Lisbon before the strike Wed.

    I sent ms to your publishers suggesting an ‘audio book’ without knowing there was indeed already one made.
    In fact I was suggesting more of an ‘audio movie’ …

    Congrats Paolo !

    Argabright, original music for “Neuromancer” Audio Book, etc.

  14. I just wrote a review for the book at my website. Thanks for your food for thought and I hope that there is more to come!


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