Random Ruminations Remotely Related to wRiting.

By: Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

I’m reading (listening) to a number of books right now. I’m sure that is a bi-product of my ADD. I think there are five. “The Pity of War” about world war I, “The Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin, “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, “Declare” by Tim Powers, and one I added this week called, “Don’t let’s go to the Dogs Tonight,” by Allexandra Fuller, about her experiences growing up during the Rhodesian Civil war.

This last is actually the one most compelling for me to listen to at this point. I spent two years in South Africa from 1979 to 1981 and much of what she relates about normal life during the time of her story, 1970 to present, takes me back to my experiences there. What is more compelling is that my wife was born in Victoria Falls, Zambia and lived almost eighteen years of her life in Rhodesia, during the same period as the book. (They actually left and moved to South Africa around 1976. Her father had military and political connections that would have made him unpopular to the new government.)

The book I thought would be most compelling was “The Game of Thrones,” but it is not. Perhaps when I have finished it, or the sixth book in the series, and feel like I am a proper fan, I will be more attached to it. Right now there are too many characters to keep straight. The point of view shifts with each chapter. I find this a little disorienting.

I listen to a section of a book, which translates to from 5 to 8 hours, then switch to another book. This gives me the opportunity to savor each book for a longer period of time, looking forward to the next section, while enjoying the sections of other books.

I want to briefly address “The Windup Girl” described by Wikipedia.org as “Biopunk Science Fiction”. I think of this as one of the first current ‘hard’ science fiction stories I have read. Hard meaning science fiction that is based more on potential facts, or at least possibilities, than on the fantastic ‘Warp Factor Five’.

I’ve completed one section of that book and am just beginning to grasp the main characters. Again, there is a POV shift to which ever character is most prominent in that chapter, and the entire book is written in first person present. (Um, you’ve most likely heard how I feel about that.)

It appears our main character, Anderson Lake is a spy in search of a suspected local seed bank, while covering as an American Entrepreneur in the 23rd century Thailand. Global temperatures went out of control and melted the ice caps. Genetic modifications of food sources resulted in sterile products that are susceptible to disease and pests. A hidden bank of unmodified seeds would not only strengthen food production and worldwide nutrition, but would make a person wealthy.

Lake’s right hand man in the factory is a displace mainland Chinese (refereed to as ‘Yellow Card’ Chinese) who was purged from Malaysia during an ethnic cleansing.

Emiko is the name sake of the book, “The windup girl”. She is a “New People”, a cyborg, created and programmed to find and obey a master.

There is a Grahmite minister that seems a little stereotyped as a fundamental Christian that refers constantly to blasphemies and abominations.

As the first part of three ends, I’m fully absorbed into the story. I have a good grounding in the motivations of all main characters. There are many solid conflicts to add tension to the story.

Second only to the Rhodesian biography, “The Windup Girl” is an absorbing, meticulously written picture of what our world might be, if corporate greed and political irresponsibility are allowed to progress unchecked.

My rating, so far? – It’s worth your time to read.

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