Not sure why 3 am through 8 am has turned into ‘Read Books on Kindle for PC’ time, but it has.
Fortunately, read two real gems in the last few days.
Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. It’s $7.39 and could be categorized as one or more of – Steampunk, Science Fiction, A Story of Redemption, High Tech Fantasy, A Story about What Makes us Human.
This won both the 2010 Hugo and the 2009 Nebula. It shared the former with The City & The City by China Meiville.
It’s beyond breathtaking. It’s full of people who are human in the best sense and in the worst sense – sometimes both at the same time.
There are various threads that you might like –
- Fighting for your country’s integrity.
- Trying to build/rebuild a fortune.
- The dangers of corporations.
- The dangers of genetic engineering.
- The race against diseases and virus mutations.
- The vulnerability of the wind-up girl.
- The sense of being an outsider and xenophobia.
- The hatred of technology and the worship of it.
- The politics underlying everything.
You will probably not like it if you believe that we’re bound to find a replacement for fossil fuels in the near future. You will probably dislike it intensely if you like everything to be very technically perfect, i.e. you expect the book to have the scientific rigor of a peer-reviewed paper (not that that means anything these days).
Reading The Wind-up Girl is as intense as watching an entire season of Jersey Shore in one sitting – except at the end you feel there is hope for the human race.
The downside – Mr. Bacigalupi has 2 novels and 1 set of short stories in the Kindle Store and that’s it. Yet another brilliant author who hasn’t written enough books.
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. This is a follow-on to Oryx and Crake and runs pretty much parallel to it.
With all due apologies to Margaret Atwood the environmental mumblings and poems ensure this book isn’t in the same league as either The Wind-Up Girl or Oryx and Crake.
It’s a beautiful story, yet each chapter begins with a painfully bland single-page write-up of some environmental nonsense festival and a poem that is equally appalling. Even if your heart bleeds for the Earth your eyes will be bleeding after reading all of these. Better to just skip them as they have nothing to do with the story itself.
The story is absolutely beautiful. The writing is stellar. Basically, if you rip out the 1-page environmental thingies and the poems this is a superstar book – just as good as Oryx and Crake, and in some ways, better.
There are quite a few things that are pretty amazing.
- Margaret Atwood captures that ‘love of my life’ feeling some/all girls seem to have. The tendency to start feeling that one man is the most amazing man in the world and the inability to ever get over him.
- The book captures the fact that there are often things we don’t want to acknowledge that do exist. In places it is rather brutal.
- It’s a very good accompaniment to Oryx and Crake. In some ways the characters are easier to grow fond of than the characters in Oryx and Crake – actually, in a lot of ways.
- It’s a very comfortable story with very unsettling things. You will be reading along smoothly and then realize that a rather unsettling notion has just been thrown in.
- It captures the Corporations/Progress vs Humanity/Earth aspect perfectly.
- It’s a plausible scenario. It’s not too hard to imagine the sort of world Margaret Atwood creates. You could argue that we are already well on our way to exactly such a world.
- It’s a very satisfying read – especially if you’ve read Oryx and Crake.
Not sure how it manages to be brilliant despite all the environmental cult nonsense but it does.
It’s strange how books have the ability to let you see things from someone else’s perspective but through your own eyes.