I just finished the audiobook of Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife.” Nicely done! Paolo has always truly good at warning — which is one of the big jobs science fiction does well. In this case, he’s warning about a future that feels very real, a dry and thirsty future where fresh water represents power. He writes with enough confidence to force you to believe in his world. In “The Water Knife,” the future Paolo draws in vivid detail lines up with the real headlines available today about water, lack of water, and fights over water rights.
It’s a tough job to write a book about current and near-term events where the story is strong enough that the message doesn’t feel like a lecture. Paolo succeeds. The story is fabulous, the warning feels dire, and I didn’t feel stepped out of the story for the warning.
I also loved the narration.
I don’t want to say too much else because of spoilers, but my parents live in Phoenix. Every time I visit, I love the sunshine and the high desert and I love seeing them. I also feel like the set-up is off-balance, that so many people simply don’t belong in that desert. I think Paolo must have had that same thought. 🙂
Note there are also other books I’d recommend on this topic. These include Mary Rosenbaum’s Water Rites and Rob Ziegler’s Seed. Brenda Hillman’s poetry book, Practical Water. The futurist in me thinks we should all read about this topic – fiction and non-fiction. It is going to be a topic of future discussion.