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Not that life in the Contraction is much better. Genetically engineered crops, and their consequent diseases, are the norm. The power centers of the world have shifted from Beijing and Washington DC to Des Moines, Iowa, where AgriGen directs its agents, known as calorie men, to find seed stock to genehack and rip into new commodities. There are many more characters in this exotic and richly rendered novel, and their constantly divided loyalties and cocoons of lies are entrancing and moving.


The sterile seeds of the grain monopolies. From where she stands in the parade grounds, Kanya can see the corporate sails with their red wheat crest logos billowing above the levee rim.

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Like much science fiction, The Windup Girl leans heavily on dialogue; early on, this is fascinating, because the characters and their situations are so convoluted. Hit the jump for more.

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Adapt this: The Windup Girl. The story takes place in 23rd century Thailand, specifically in Bangkok, a capital city that now sits below sea level and is protected from flooding only by levees and continually running pumps. The energy that runs the city is derived neither from the fossil fuels that are at the center of numerous debates today, nor the renewable sources that many hope will bring energy independence in the future.

Instead, work is provided through manually-wound kink-springs that store energy supplied by manual labor of humans or megodonts — giant genetically-modified elephants — to be released at a later time almost like a battery that uses kinetic rather than chemical energy. Each of them have their own agendas and their decisions ultimately decide the fate of Bangkok. The plot expertly weaves the stories of these characters and more throughout a tale of espionage, corruption, rebellion, corporate greed and much, much more.

Orion Magazine | The Windup Girl

Certainly some subplots would have to be trimmed down or cut out entirely to accommodate a tolerable run-time, but there is plenty of meat to chew through. The visuals should be allowed to amaze an audience and then disappear into the background.

The Final Word:.