“Food should come from the place of its origin, and stay there. It shouldn’t spend its time crisscrossing the globe for the sake of profit.”
― Paolo Bacigalupi,
Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel was smash hit! As you can plainly see from the cover, it won a Hugo, Nebula, Compton Crook, and Locus award. Clearly the critics and judges loved ‘Windup Girl’ for it’s futuristic scifi Thailand, and so did I.
After global warming has caused the ocean to rise, Thailand is able to remain because of large levees and water pumps. But that’s the least of the world’s problems in the twenty-third century. The real name of the game is food.
With almost all natural resources wasted away to nothing, food is no exception. Companies, like the one Anderson Lake works for, creates synthetic food loosely reminiscent of what the planet use to produce. However, these companies have gained a reputation for essentially destroying the economy and spreading disease. Hated by many, Anderson is forced to hide his real career behind the guise of owning a kink-spring factor.
Emiko is a Japanese humanoid slave, or “windup girl,” who was abandoned in Thailand. She has never fully adjusted to the heat of Thailand, and only survives as an illegal resident because the owner of the sex club she works for bribes police. Things definitely aren’t as good as they could be.
(Here’s the part I like.)
Both Anderson and Emiko’s lives change the day they meet. Emiko’s body is overheating to dangerous levels when Anderson grabs her, runs up the levee wall, then throws her into the water before she fries.
Once their lives are intertwined, we see the unfolding of food wars, famine, and the age old treatment of social classes. Feelings of love and companionship, although secretly, between Anderson and his windup girl give the novel its last push into greatness.