Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bacigalupi, Paolo (The Windup Girl)

I completely understand why this book received the Hugo and the Nebula awards. Any decently plotted tale of the end of peak oil is going to be rewarded. Don't we all want to guess at what that particular future will be like?

It doesn't mean I have to love it, though. I think a few people have said that it is repetitive, and can I just repeat? It's repetitive. Bacigalupi tells us over and over how conflicted Kanya is, how fearful Hock Seng is, the strange obsession Anderson has towards fruit, how much Emiko never sweats. Gah! It gets so annoying. He'll go whole pages with a character saying this same stuff over and over and not moving the plot forward one inch. But for things that are absolutely necessary, he seems to completely forget to tell us, such as when an extremely important personage dies-- we don't learn about it in the scene that discusses it (yes, that sounds as weird stated like that) but later on in scenes with adjunct characters. I had to go back and re-read that bit to be sure I hadn't missed it. Nope, I hadn't.

I'm guessing with a much better editor, this could all have been avoided. Having heard from my author friends about this, editing is super painful-- having to cut all that beloved writing! But tightening a story makes it so much better for so many reasons. You'd be right to say that I can't complain about this one because it won the top awards in its field. But I'm gonna anyway if only to forewarn you.

Because it's still an interesting tale: Thailand as the last bastion of non-sterile seed stock that isn't owned by the DuPonts and Dows of that world, and the struggle to keep themselves autonomous and free from the plagues that have killed off most of their food. It's a terrifying and halfway already real world. I know that's why the awards committees honored it.

1 comment:

Magnus Petersson said...

English is not my first language, so I did a search for "Bacigalupi" and "repetitive" just to see if anyone else had reacted... Maybe I just have lousy sense of rhythm? :)

In my view, the problems you mention above hamper the book severely and has made me put it down several times before I could finally finish it.

In so many words: I agree.