Alternative Energy in Ultra-Scarcity Environment
One of the things that I found fascinating was the author’s use of an anomalous source of stored energy that is considered somewhat archaic by contemporary consumers of electronic [Everything] – spring power! The “kink-springs,” a creation which Bacigalupi adds as a common source of stored energy in the world of The Windup Girl, are used quite ubiquitously, and seem to have replaced AC current, disposable batteries, and gasoline as a compact and non-reactive form of power. Everything from boats and motorcycles, to ceiling fans are powered by winding up what is called a torsion spring, which the characters call a “kink-spring.” The tension spring is essentially a storage of kinetic energy that is transferred by flexing the structure of metal through manual winding, which is then mechanically released at a controlled interval to provide a sustained power source.
Incidentally this technology was originally produced in order to provide an accurate way to measure time, and was incorporated into mechanical clocks and wristwatches. The only other area these tension spring devices have seen use in the modern world is in some archaic children’s windup toys.
Because of the Ultra-Scarcity environment of the novel, alternative power sources are sought out and become a necessity, (where contemporary fossil fuel energy sources such as coal and gasoline power have been extinguished). Power and energy are a central theme in the book and provoke thoughtful contemplation on how to maintain the technology that we have, while simultaneously diversifying the energy that is available throughout our world. Over dependence of fossil fuel seems to have disastrous consequences in the novel, and perhaps seeking to diversify energy sources would be a wise reaction to this cautionary element. I personally enjoy the very creative revival of torsion spring technology because of my interest in mechanical clocks and watches, but there are so many other sources of energy as well such as, solar, wind, and water. There is reasonable speculation that gradual transition to harnessing several forms of energy instead of dependence on one source would aid in bolstering the world against the scarcity of energy production, and subsequent catastrophe.
 Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl, (San Fransisco: Night Shade Books, 2010)
 Dada Rada, “How a Mechanical Watch Works,” YouTube.com, https://youtu.be/uGcoIue1Bs8