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

Reviews: Troika, Elmer, God’s War

I’ve got a small heap of books I keep meaning to review, but the stack (and soon, the overdue fines) seems to be growing faster than my motivation to write about them in depth. So here are three quick reviews of what I’ve read recently:Troika

Troika by Alastair Reynolds is a quick but satisfying hard-sf novella, weighing in at well under 200 pages. It’s a typical Big Dumb Object story, but with several clever twists that still make it compelling. The narrative alternates between the story of three Russian cosmonauts exploring the Matryoshka , a massive, alien object that mysteriously appeared in our own solar system; and the later story of one of those cosmonauts, driven half insane by his experience aboard the Matryoshka, trying desperately to reveal what he found there. Clever, cinematic storytelling rendered in smart prose. Good stuff. Continue reading Reviews: Troika, Elmer, God’s War