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Jul 12

Review: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Posted on July 12, 2017 at 11:34 AM by Elizabeth Land

Paolo Bacigalupi presents a terrifyingly realistic view of the future of America in his new science fiction novel, The Water Knife.

The Water KnifeIn the future, humanity's misuse of water has led to lasting drought and the water wars. Cities have been completely cut off from water and states have sealed their borders to prevent refugees from taking more of the already limited and precious resource. Water is a cut-throat business, with legitimate water utilities bombing damns, spying on each other and sending "water knives" to protect water supplies by force.

Bacigalupi follows three people, a Texas refugee eking out a living in Phoenix, where there is no water, a reporter following the story of the dying city of Phoenix, and an ex-con turned water knife for a Las Vegas water utility. The story moves at a brisk pace, picking up different narrative threads that are then smartly woven together by the author into a thrilling race against time.

Some readers might be put off by the excessive violence and graphic sexual encounters. For others, these details drive home the desperation and horror of living in a water-starved future. In the end, you will find yourself caring deeply for the seemingly morally ambiguous water knife named Angel, as he and the others fight to find a piece of paper that has already cost a few lives and may cost the main characters their lives as well.

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While this novel may be science fiction, water is undoubtedly a precious resource that is dwindling. If this book got you worried about the future of our water supply, check out these nonfiction resources: