The season of road trips or just rolling the windows down and burning prehistoric plant matter of the fun of it is upon us. Very few of people own vehicles with engine notes so beautiful that it’s not worth sullying the growl (or whine for those with forced induction) of the engine with music. For the rest of us, music goes with driving like jelly goes with peanut butter.
The Windup Girl is now considered, if I can believe the chatter on various SF blogs, one of the front-runners for this year’s Hugo Award, and it’s pretty easy to see why. It’s an impressive first novel (although embodying themes that Bacigalupi has been exploring in short stories for several years now), and it looks as if Bacigalupi has set himself up with a solid franchise here—there will clearly be a sequel, and maybe more than one. There better be. We find ourselves in the world of the 22nd century, where a number of current trends have run unchecked, global warming and the concentration of power in food companies the major two. It’s not an attractive world in a number of ways—countries have fallen as sea levels have risen and entire economies have been obliterated; the calorie companies (American, of course) dominate food production; plagues of rust and other plant diseases (that have resulted from bioengineering plants in the first place) have wiped out whole crops; biotechnology is the dominant scientific and technological exercise because it is so desperately needed, both to create new crops resistant to disease and to check the diseases that already ravage the planet; and fossil fuels (except for coal) are largely gone. And yet life, and people, persevere.