Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl is definitely not an easy read. He thrusts readers off their feet into a futuristic world based in Thailand in the 23rd century. He doesn’t really prepare readers for the story he shares in the sense that his world comes with many new technologies and terms that aren’t necessarily easy to understand or comprehend. He doesn’t really do a good job in explaining all of these imaginative elements and it seems like you’re just expected to know exactly what he’s talking about as if we already know all about Bacigalupi’s made up futuristic society. I do applaud Bacigalupi for his creativity, but overall I feel that a majority of the components of this world, along with the heavy plot lines and plethora of diverse characters, are just simply overwhelming and confusing. It is without a doubt, extremely easy to get totally lost in this novel.
Paolo Bacigalupi presents a world in his novel The Windup Girl ultimately impoverished due to climate change and the future society is left without fossil fuels and other sources of cheap energy. In this time, genetic modification is something far too common. GMO’s are something I have looked into immensely. Personally, they really freak me out considering we truly have no idea what the long term effects are. I believe Monsanto to be a power tripping monster of a company, similar to the mega-corporations present in Bacigalupi’s society. Aarthi Vadde draws upon this point when describing The Windup Girl in her own reviews. “The Windup Girl is about climate change and the geopolitical maneuvering that takes place to secure resources—in this case seeds—in a world where fossil fuels, cheap energy, and food abundance no longer exist. Its other protagonist is Anderson Lake, an American “calorie man” looking to open markets in Thailand, a country that has survived the global food shortage and mass extinction of plant species by refusing to import genetically modified, sterile seeds from Lake’s Monsanto-like employer AgriGen” (Vadde). In this society however, it goes past just genetically modifying crops. They take it as far as animals and people. The treatment of these genetically modified organisms is utterly horrific. Companies use the “megadonts” which are beast-like elephant creatures to run the factories under terrible conditions and severe abuse. Whereas, “New People” such as the character Emiko are treated like lesser beings. “Emiko, a genetically engineered geisha-type being invented in Japan and abandoned by her owner in Bangkok, where she becomes a slave in a sadistic sex club. Spliced together from human and possible Labrador genes, Emiko is faster and stronger than human beings, but is programmed to serve. She is also designed with incredibly small pores, which make beauty her fatal flaw. If she tries to run, fight, or generally get out of line, she risks overheating to death” (Vadde). Being that this book is read from different perspectives from different characters, I found Emiko’s adventure and story of survival to be the most interesting to read by far.
I would say that this book could ultimately serve as a warning of the immense power science truly has when it comes to GMOs. In this story they do in fact cause deadly epidemics such as plagues and disease. However, Emiko is promised that genetic modification will be used in order to create a new race of “new people” so she can live with more people like her. This ultimately leads me to believe that GMOs could be a good thing for society when left in the right hands and under strict regulation, because if they are not things could completely turn for the worse and get out of control.
Vadde, Aarthi. “Megalopolis Now.” Public Books. N.p., 6 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.