Kindle version Reviews for Wind-Up Girl & Year of the Flood

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 -

  1. Fighting for your country’s integrity.
  2. Trying to build/rebuild a fortune.
  3. The dangers of corporations.
  4. The dangers of genetic engineering.
  5. The race against diseases and virus mutations.
  6. The vulnerability of the wind-up girl.
  7. The sense of being an outsider and xenophobia.
  8. The hatred of technology and the worship of it.
  9. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. It captures the Corporations/Progress vs Humanity/Earth aspect perfectly.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

7 Responses

  1. I don’t like the price, but you sure make me want to read The Windup Girl. I am going to give in and go buy it. Best.

  2. Almost OT

    We will indeed have a replacement for fossil fuels. The derision poured on cold fusion (for example) will be shown to be dumb. There is an extremely good chance that that will begin in October this year with a device called the Rossi Ecat.

    Thanks for the recommendations, both sound fantastic.

  3. Not sure why 3 am through 8 am has turned into ‘Read Books on Kindle for PC’ time, but it has.

    Probably because it’s dark and a regular Kindle has no backlight? ;-)

    Paul, I’ve heard far too many stories of some upcoming new technology to replace fossil fuels in the next Friedman Unit (i.e. six months) to be anything but skeptical of another. I might cough up for Wind-up Girl simply because it isn’t blowing energy sunshine.

  4. No problem, FarF. Yours is the sensible stance and will almost always be correct. Still, remember Rossi…

    • Paul, I give you a thumbs up because you got my nickname right! (although I usually use FARf or Farf)

      Like any of these soon-to-come trials, I’ll wait and see, but the pessimist is never unpleasantly surprised. You might be interested in my blog-novel, FAR Future, in which I blog from 2012 to 2045. Some of it (like the rolling blackouts) probably won’t happen nearly as quickly as I wrote about, but other things are already happening. Kind of spooky. :) One of my goals for the year is to get this rewritten as a more traditional novel and release it as an eBook.

  5. Nice idea for a blog, FARf. I’ll have a look.

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