just trying to keep score.

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bacigalupi continued

"We should all be windups by now. It’s easier to build a person impervious to blister rust than to protect an earlier version of the human creature. A generation from now, we could be well-suited for our new environment. Your children could be beneficiaries. Yet you people refuse to adapt. You cling to some idea of a humanity that evolved in concert with your environment over millennia, and which you now, perversely, refuse to remain in lockstep with… . Our environment has changed. If we wish to remain at the top of our food chain, we will evolve."

One of the points where arguments converge, and also incidentally something like a classic villain’s speech, even though it’s not delivered by the worst character, nor is it delivered to the best. But it gets at the problem Bacigalupi’s playing with, a version of the role of technology in preserving or opposing nature, and by situating it within this minor confrontation the book’s perspective remains equivocal, uncertain. The Windup Girl is much more interested in underlining and extrapolating the errors of the past — our present — than it is in solving its own world’s problems.

December 30, 2010, 2:24pm   Comments

bacigalupi continued

“‘I’ve had many different lives. I was a boy, and a muay thai champion, and a father, and a white shirt.’ He glances down at the folds of his novice’s clothes. ‘A monk, even.’” 

While I’m in no position to comment on Bacigalupi’s understanding of Thai Buddhism (and will in fact fall behind Niall Harrison’s larger argument about “authenticity” in this book, in Strange Horizons, where he says “To the extent that the term has meaning when applied to a future Thailand, it is not something I can assess here. What I can say is that the depiction feels coherent, in the sense of being particular and detailed enough to be a convincing lie, in the manner of all good fiction; and that it does not seem to condescend, either to its characters or to its readers, by flattening or glossing its material.”) this bit, from the condemned white knight, where he compares his own progression through life to that of his karmic fate, is very nice and just a little ironically bittersweet.  

December 29, 2010, 4:49pm   Comments

paolo bacigalupi, the windup girl

"When the door opens, they kneel in a wave, all of them performing khrabs of abasement, triple bows to the patron who keeps them housed, the one man in Krung Thep who willingly shoulders the burden of them, who provides a measure of safety from the red machetes of the Malays and the black batons of the white shirts.”

In contrast to Kraken, this is full-on speculative fiction, an extrapolation of environmental and large-scale social collapse, and there are a lot of moving parts to the background. It’s actually very elegant that Bacigalupi orders them by color: the Green Headbands of Malay Islamists, the white shirts of the Thai government officials, the yellow-card ethnic Chinese refugees. He shifts the colors here — the black batons of the white shirts — fittingly for the impurity of each group’s moral status; in much the same way, he weaves through a small allegory of environmental niche and habitat in the way he frames each main characters’ insecurities.

Night Shade Books 04.20.10

December 28, 2010, 6:57pm   Comments