Reviews: Windup Girl, Habibi, Hunger Games

The Windup GirlThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, published in 2009, won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, as well as numerous other accolades, including having been listed as the ninth best book of 2009 by TIME magazine.

The Windup Girl has been, rightfully I think, compared to William Gibson’s Neuromancer, particularly for their shared vision of a near-future of powerful multinational corporations and reckless privatization. But whereas Gibson focused largely on information technology, Bacigalupi focuses on the future role of genetic engineering and biotechnology, imagining a world in which genetic materials become commodities worth killing for. Moreover, The Windup Girl, set in Thailand, also provides an interesting example of a future in which the West’s cultural and economic hegemony has been eclipsed by the uncomfortable bedfellows of multinational corporations and emerging markets. Continue reading Reviews: Windup Girl, Habibi, Hunger Games

Ebook Lending Update

The Library Renewal blog has an awesome summary of all the discussion in recent weeks about library ebook lending, most notably, Bobbi Newman’s suggestion that libraries ought to at least call a hiatus on investing in ebooks until there’s a better model in place.

I’m tempted to agree with her. I’m wary of libraries’ handing over large amounts of their budgets to digital distributors like Overdrive when there’s little guarantee that whatever content they’re purchasing (or more accurately, licensing under very limited conditions) will be there in the long run.

Until there’s legislation or a court decision affirming something like first sale doctrine for digital content, it seems like libraries are engaging in very expensive experiment. I honestly hope it works out, but in the meantime, I think caution is warranted, and perhaps a seriously consideration of something like what Andy Woodworth outlines in his blog post Alternative Uses for the Pesky eBook Budget