Originally Posted by LonerMatt
Paolo Bacigalupi's 2009 book The Windup Girl
remains one of the more interesting books released in the SF genre in the past 5 or so years...
Matt, have you read his collection yet? I think it's called Pump Six. I was wondering how it compares to the Wind-Up Girl, which I couldn't get ahold of immediately. I was at once very stoked to get a solid lead on some science fiction -- an unfamiliar genre -- but also sort of disappointed. I'm not sure whether that disappointment stems from the author, or from science fiction tropes in general.
I find his ideas interesting. His general, environmental slant, that's okay. But then there were some structural things, teasers, I guess, that are meant to pull you into the world, but that stack up so fast, and with such delayed explanations, they usually have the opposite effect. In some cases it's quite distancing. I guess this would fall under world-building? The studiously oblique references to the facets of the world, meant to provide (I'm guessing) realism? A swifter pace? Anyone know what I'm getting at? In quote-unquote 'literary' science fiction, I usually see it handled like this: one oblique reference, usually in the first scene (an 'action' scene), followed by a second expository sequence -- essentially, a second, or 'real' beginning, the place where a novice would probably start the story. A brief spell of confusion, a teaser, if you will -- then boom, everything handled up-front, the reader now able to focus on the meat of the story, not puzzle over essential details. And I have to say I think that works better (if you at-all know what I'm talking about) than an all-out reference-fest to things we can't access until pages later. (It also tends to sound really dorky, really fast).
This is where I really wondered whether some more up-front exposition, however brief, would have helped things, or whether this is just a staple of a genre pretty foreign to me.
The other thing -- and this is what kills me -- is more of a taste issue, I guess. I think it's clear PB is (or could be) a very capable prose writer; he's able to pull double or triple duty with the language, maintaining a swift pace while describing, characterizing, etc. in a pleasing way, he's got a good ear, sentence variation, all that. But like, without fail, there's always something out of whack -- one misplaced word, an extra adjective, some fumbling alliteration. What kills me is that it's always on the surface, too, if that makes sense. A very tiny problem. Like you could literally draw a red line through it, and the paragraphs would be crystalline, really sing. (And here is where I wish I had my heavily earmarked copy). It seemed like if the stories had appeared in AGNI or something, they'd really be line-edited differently. And again I had to wonder: genre conventions/genre expectations? Just the author? Just me?
Other than that, pretty solid. I enjoyed your post on Wind-Up Girl, and I'm still looking forward to it. I imagine a longer work would really ease up on that giant pancake stacking of confusion that would bog down a short story, too.
As always: it is late, so late....
Edited by noob in 89 - 7/23/15 at 12:28am