Wednesday, October 20, 2010

South Park and Quidditch

So this is my second post today, but it is totally necessary. Just finished tonight's episode of South Park and it was based on Inception, which was awesome. I have also noticed many science fiction themes in South Park recently. Last year alone they produced parodies based on Star Trek First Contact and Avatar.
Also, quidditch is coming to campus and I so want to put together a team. Right now I only have 4 people, but if anyone from class wants to play just contact me on the blog and we'll go from there. I'm super cereal about this. If anyone has not seen the CW article, there is going to be a quidditch competition soon on campus. I don't have the exact information on it, but there should be something on the university's creative campus website.

Is it too late to say....

I loved Wind Up Girl but I'm glad it's over. Usually I love books with a different language, but I got really tired of skipping over all the foreign words. I always felt like I was missing something; like some emotion was lost because I couldn't understand what was being said. From reading the other posts I can tell I'm not alone. Still the story overall was great. I loved how all the different stories intersected and how just when you think you know who is the most important character in the story, they are killed or no longer vital.
I think a lot of my frustration with this book comes from not understanding the world. I read that it was based on some of his other short stories. I think if I had read those I would have been more ready for what I was about to read.
We should take a poll in class; how many of us loved the book and how many of us hated it...and who's opinion changed as the book progressed.

Windups and What-nots

I think I would totally be saying the same thing I have read in other posts about this being a confusing book with its numerous subplots and constant use of foreign terminology if I had not listened to this as an audiobook. This was the first book I had decided to try listening to instead of reading since I was sick of trying to find something decent on the radio in my car. The guy who narrated made it easy to gloss over unfamiliar words since he spoke right through them with the intonations that gave emotional context to the story. Also, it was really impressive how he gave each character a different voice. I mean, that is a lot of voices.

Now, unrelated to The Windup Girl, I just read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and I am highly recommending it to all. The premises have 24 "tributes" between the ages of 12 and 18 thrown into a competition vaguely reminiscent of The Running Man, a fight to the death with only one victor. It is the first in a trilogy, and I am so sad that there are five people ahead of me at the library with the second book on hold.

The Windup Girl

I know it has already been said before but the one thing that I liked to most this book was the setting. The fact that it took place in the Far East was very different from all the other science fiction books I have read. When I think of science fiction locations, it usually involves space or a Victorian age steampunk setting. The imagery of the novel was interesting from page one. The fruit that Anderson Lake describes at the market is unbelievable.

The Windup Girl

This is going to be a short post because I basically agree with everyone. First off, I really enjoyed this book. The multiple narrations, and subplots opened up more possibilities. All the characters brought something different to the book, and helped create and understanding of the setting.
Speaking of setting, I'm happy the novel took place in Thailand because most science fiction settings do not focus on this area. They mostly consist of space, the United States, or some other Western location. It was nice to see a story take place somewhere beyond the typical setting.

Puzzling Plots

One of the things I like most about this book is also what I find the most frustrating. It is completely unpredictable. Typically, you can read the first few chapters of a book and get a rough outline of how the rest of the story will go. For example, in Boneshaker, once the tunnel collapses, you can be sure that Briar is going to go in there, rescue her son, and have a few misadventures, possibly involving her father and husband.

However, in the Windup Girl, it's impossible to tell what the story arch is before it's revealed. Bacigalupi weaves his characters and their sub-plots together so well that, just as you think you've figured it out, something else happens. You get introduced to Jaidee and his family. His wife gets kidnapped. He does X, Y, and Z to save her and it all seems fairly important, but then he's killed. The purpose of his whole subplot was to provide motivation for another subplot and to introduce a new character, who turns out to be more important.

This book's intricacies are refreshing. It's been a long time since I've read a book I couldn't figure out in three or four chapters. But it's frustrating, thinking you've finally got it figured out when another subplot rears its head, changing the shape of the whole story.

The Windup Girl

The one thing that really stands out about the Windup Girl, for me, is how complex it is. Even the writing style seems very dense. I can't tell if this is a purposeful style choice to match the setting or just a really frustrating quirk. This is one of the few books I've read where there was a somewhat realistic web of power. There are a lot of factions fiddling around in the setting;s background, well beyond the conflict between the trade and environmental ministries. In the real world, politics isn't a simple two faction, lawful good vs. chaotic evil affair, so, in that respect, I think this is a good book. On the other hand, I feel like the story might be a little too big for its pages. There is a lot going on, and I don't know that I'm retaining half of it.

"Rommel you magnificent bastard..."

After finishing this book, I was impressed by four of the characters that drove the story. Seng, Gibbons, Lake, and Akkarat. These men were, by this definition, magnificent bastards, men who played the odds and made major power plays. The most interesting, I think, is Gibbons. He not only switched sides at some point before the story, because he was bored, he managed to be the one in the end who got everything he wanted, well except a cure for those man-killing super zits. Any one else think differently? While on the subject of bastards, what about Gendo? What did you guys think of him?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My first thought with The Windup Girl

The title of this post will link you to the very first thing I thought of when I started reading The Windup Girl. It is a short documentary called The Dying Fields which I watched with my cultural anthropology class a couple of semesters ago. Sponsored by PBS, the film looks at the plight of cotton farmers in India's cotton belt, which it refers to as "the suicide belt" where apparently there was a suicide reported every 8 hours. Many of the millions of farmers were unable to cope with their debts to money lenders, and ingesting huge amounts of pesticide became a favorable option. Why did they have so many debts? They were, as one woman in the movie puts it, "addicted" to BT cotton, a pest resistant, genetically modified breed of cotton owned and sold by the Monsanto agricultural corporation. The farmers thought they needed THIS cotton to be able to continue to compete. If you're interested, the film does it more justice then I ever could here, so check it out. (Of course, there is the question of correlation/causation here, and some research has suggested that the former is really the case, so take this all with a grain of salt)

Also, in looking up a couple of words from the novel online, Google took me to this blog. Not sure what this really is, if it is at all officially associated with Paolo Bacigalupi, or who came up with the bizarre layout, but it was somewhat helpful for a couple of things I actually was able to find.

Science Fiction Double Feature

So, I don't know if anyone here watches Glee, but next week, they are doing a big "Rocky Horror Picture Show" tribute show for Halloween. Apparently the students at the school in the show are putting on a production of the musical. RHPS definitely fits into the Sci Fi genre, what with its aliens and mad scientist themes. One of the songs is even called "Science Fiction Double Feature." It's also one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. I've only seen it once, and I enjoyed it, although I was completely confused. Any Rocky Horror fans here?
Anyway, I thought it looked interesting, and a nice break from The Windup Girl. The trailer is in the title, if your interested. Glee can be pretty hilarious, so it's probably worth checking out their take on the classic show/movie.

The Windup Girl

There have been many a discussion brimming about this, and it seems everybody is very love/hate. I am not 100% where exactly I stand though. I think I read where one of ya'll said English was not Bacigalupi's main language? which if this is true I'm glad that someone brought it up because it makes a lot more sense. That is the main thing that makes this story hard. One of my favorite books is Memoirs of a Geisha. I love this book but won't lie, there is a lot of Japanese that I sort of skimmed over. I'm trying to do the same thing here, and it is helping.

Also, the use of the word "dung." I mean seriously? How many uses can there really be for dung in this little future we have going on? Spare me.

One point I wanted to bring up, however, (and this is the main purpose of this post) is the use of so many narrators. While I can sort of see the argument of why Bacigalupi did this, I think it adds to the confusion when there are so many plotlines being strung together. It's pretty hard when I'm attempting to understand the entire world that the book is based on as well. (all this calorie and megadont mess). How does everyone else feel about the multiple narrator situation?


Hello All!

As we've been discussing Boneshaker on the blog a lot, I was doing some research online regarding said subject. I found this really interesting video regarding a Steampunk Exhibit in Oxford England.

Thought I would share for all of you enthusiasts ;)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Steampunk Galore!

So I was doing peer advising today, and I had a nice boy come in for some advice. Guess what he was wearing! The steampunk-style goggles! I asked him where he got them, and sure enough he was like "oh I ordered them online, the website was something like steampunk emporium or something". He and I got to talking about it and he was all about some steampunk. His goggles were more plain but he was gushing over some fancy brass ones on the site. I think the site is worth a look (link's the post title), and I especially like the Hazel Barrett outfit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


So I've figured out why The Windup Girl is so incredibly painful to read:

1. It's all about business. There is a reason I am not in the business school with all of my friends. I don't understand it, I don't like it. So I'm lost.

2. He never explains the meanings of words that aren't basic English. I didn't know what a megodont was until it actually died. And what the heck is a nightshade? Not to mention all the Thai words that he uses in the middle of sentences, thus completely losing the meaning of the sentence to anyone who doesn't speak Thai.

3. He doesn't describe his characters clearly. The only one that makes sense is the actual windup girl. Other than that, I have no idea who I'm reading about at any given time. I have no idea what the difference between a yellow card and a white shirt is. Or is it a white card and a yellow shirt? Ahhhh I have no clue.

4. 100 pages in (about half as far as I'd like to be) and as far as I can tell the story hasn't started yet. Not to mention all the mistakes in his writing that are distracting my inner grammar Nazi. I do not like his writing style at all.

Please for all that is good will someone tell me that this book gets better?

(No offense to Andy and his reading selection :D)