Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Windup Girl

I just finished Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, having read it in one big gulp this afternoon and evening. (Wikipedia lists its genre as "science-fiction biopunk," which I had not known existed.)

It was good. It had unpredictable plot points. It now inhabits a corner of my fiction-hoarding mind that was previously empty. It was novel while still a comfortable read, fun, but a bit of a surprise and mental workout to figure out what was happening.

The story is told through the limited third-person lens of an assortment of characters. These characters are drawn from many different cultures, so the book illustrates the cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations from both sides. I found this curious to hold in my mind: many ways of viewing a conversation, all equally valid and consistent and interesting, but contradictory and incongruous. It seems to me to be a feat not only of writing but of cultural understanding far beyond my ken. It's great.

This was compounded, later in the book, with a nice plot twiddle and the fact that various characters promulgate and perpetuate misinformation campaigns. And these campaigns concern, of course, the other characters' actions and motives, so that any clear image of what happened is muddled in my mind with which character and interpretation grabs my allegiance.

Of course, the science fiction and biopunk were also enjoyable. (No matter the culture, the characters have to agree about science, right? Huzzah for genetic engineering and delicious descriptions of food.) All in all, a nice book, and over all too quickly.

This post's theme word is pip, "something or someone wonderful," or "the small seed of a fruit." Paolo Bacigalupi's most recent book featured many delightful pips, in both senses.
This post written like H. P. Lovecraft.

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