The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi

I need to keep a book progress page for this one because I checked it out from my library on Overdrive, and they no longer offer kindle copies, which means I have to use their reader. Sadly, that means I can only bookmark pages rather than collect the quotes themselves, and it takes about five seconds to load each bookmarked page. Argh.

(BTW, does anyone know an epub reader app that provides similar functionality to the kindle app? I desperately need to be able to highlight and take notes.)

"Nothing is certain--that is the first lesson. The yang guizi foreign devils learned this in the Contraction when their loss of oil sent them scuttling back to their home shores. He himself finally learned it in Malacca. Nothing is certain, nothing is secure." [19%]

"You're holding the city hostage?"

"The white shirts seem to have forgotten that they need outsiders. We're in the middle of a new Expansion and every string is connected to every other string, and yet they're still thinking like a Contraction ministry. They don't understand how dependent they've already become on farang." He shrugs. "At this point, they're just pawns on a chess board. They have no idea who moves them, and couldn't stop us even if they tried." [27.5%]

"[Cheshires] are too much improved for this world, I think. A natural bird has so little chance, now." She smiles slightly. "Just think if they had made the New People first."

Is it mischief in her eyes? Or melancholy?
"What do you think would have happened?" Anderson asks.

Emiko doesn't meet his gaze, looks out instead at the circling cats amongst the diners. "Generippers learned too much from cheshires."

She doesn't say anything else, but Andersoncan guess what's in her mind. If her kind had come first, before the generippers knew better, she wouldnot have been made sterile. She would not have the signature tick-tock motions that make her so physically obvious. She might have even been designed as well as the military windups now operating in Vietnam--deadly and fearless. Without the lesson of the cheshires, Emiko might have had the opportunity to supplant the human species entirely with her own improved version. Instead, she is a genetic dead end. Doomed to a single life cycle, just like SoyPRO and TotalNutrient Wheat." [32.3%]

(show spoiler)

"All life produces waste. The act of living produces costs, hazards and disposal questions, and so the Ministry has found itself in the center of all life, mitigating, guiding and policing the detritus of the average person along with investigating the infraction of the greedy and short-sighted, the ones who wish to make quick profits and trade on others' lives for it.

The symbol for the Environment Ministry is the eye of a tortoise, for the long view--the understanding that nothing comes cheap or quickly without a hidden cost." [34.4%]

"He is a bully, he thinks sourly. Nothing but a bully walking amongst water buffalo, and though he tries to herd them with kindness, again and again, he finds himself using the whip of fear." [34.6%]

Why doesn't he try, I don't know, explaining and reasoning rather than burning and hacking and threatening?

"The world's shrinking." [41.8%]

"No farang should ever touch the heart of us. You may take an arm or a leg from our country, but not the head, and certainly not the heart." [42.8%]

"The men who designed me, they make me do things that I cannot control. As if their hands are inside me. Like a puppet, yes?" Her fists clenched, opening and closin unconsciously, but her voice remained subdued. "They make me obedient, in all ways."

And then she had smiled prettily and flowed into his arms, as if she had made no complaint at all.

She is an animal. servile as a dog. [...] he wonders if she were a real person if he would feel more incensed at the abuse she suffers. It's an odd thing, being with a manufactured creature, built and trained to serve. [51.7%]

"No one had seen the violence coming. Not a single intelligence officer had anticipated the cauldron boiling beneath the surface [...] and now it is the same. A sudden eruption, and the surprise of realising that the world he understands is not the one he actually inhabits." [52.4%]

"Why are you doing this?" the daughter cries. "What have we done to you?"

The white shirt studies her coldly. "You took us for granted. [...] Tell your friends what you see here. We are not dogs you feed with scraps. We are tigers. Fear us." [57.1%]

"She does not know how little anyone cares to separate wheat from chaff, when all anyone wants to do is burn a field." [57.3%]

This is the shape of our world, she thinks. Tit for tat until we're all dead and cheshires lap at our blood.

She wonders if it was really better in the past, if there really was a golden age fueled by petroleum and technology. A time when every solution to a problem didn't engender another. [59.4%]

"She thinks of the hungry ghosts that populate this awful facility. The spirits of the dead who sacrificed themselves to leash the demons of the world." [60.2%]

"A butterfly flutters past and alights on the terrace railing. Closes its jewel wings. Opens them gently. Folding itself over and over again, bright and cobalt and gold and black.

Kanya studies it, stricken by its beauty, the gaudy evidence of a world beyond her own. She wonders what hungers have driven it to fly to this alien mansion with its strange farang prisoner. Of all the things of beauty, here is one that cannot be denied. Nature has worked itself into a frenzy.

Kanya leans close, studying it as it clings to the rail. An unwary hand might brush it and grind it into dust without ever realizing the destruction.

She reaches out with a careful finger. The butterfly startles, then allows her to gather it in, to walk it into her cupped palm. [...] Kanya makes a fist on its fluttering. Opens her hand and lets its dust drop to the tiles. Wing fragments and pulped body. [...]

Windups have no souls. But they are beautiful." [68%]

"We are nature. Our every tinkering is nature, our every biological striving. We are what we are, and the world is ours. We are its gods. Your only difficulty is your unwillingness to unleash your potential fully upon it. [...] Evolve or die. It has always been nature's guiding principle, and yet you white shirts seek to stand in the way of inevitable change." [68.2%]

"But then, you never will be [done with me]. That is the nature of our beasts and plagues. They are not dumb machines to be driven about. They have their own needs and hungers. Their own evolutionary demands. They must mutate and adapt, and so you will never be done with me, and when I am gone, what will you do then? We have released demons upon the world, and your walls are only as good as my intellect Nature has become something new. It is ours now, truly. And if our creation devours us, how poetic will that be?" [69%]

[69%] Seriously, why was this book called The Windup Girl? I would totally name this book "The Calorie Man." Unless the windup aspect is meant to apply to everyone in the book, each person set upon an unshakeable, tragic course, as deterministic as a machine. 

"We rest in the hands of a fickle god. He plays on our behalf only for entertainment, and he will close his eyes and sleep if we fail to engage his intellect.

A horrifying thought. The man exists only for competition, the chess match of evolution, fought on a global scale. An exercise in ego, a singl egiant fending off the attacks of dozens of others, a giant swatting them from the sky and laughing. But all giants must fall, and then what must the Kingdom look forward to?" [69.5%]

"Anderson tries to control his voice, to speak reasonably. It's as though he's talking to a block of wood." [74.6%]

"Politics is ugly. Never doubt what small men will do for great power." [77.9%]


"All New Japanese are fast. You have mistaken the question to ask. How they use their innate qualities is a question of their training, not of their physical capabilities." [83.3%]

"It is in our genes. We seek to obey. To have others direct us. It is a necessity. As important as water for a fish. It is the water we swim in. [...] We are more Japanese than even the Japanese. We must serve within a hierarchy. She must find a master."

"What if this one is different? If this one doesn't?"

"She will. She has no choice." [84%]

(show spoiler)

"Children playing at war. Children who don't deserve to die, but are still too foolish to live." [88.2%]


An entire city torn to ribbons over... what? A windup girl who couldn't keep her place." [93.7%]

"King Rama did not care an ounce for Krung Thep; he cared for us, and so he made a symbol for us to protect. But it is not the city, it is the people that matter. What good is a city if the people are enslaved?" [97%]

(show spoiler)