Aaah, another Bacigalupi. The Windup Girl was one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve read over the last decade, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting his next adult SF work. (His young adult stuff has also been fantastic.) Bacigalupi’s new one, The Water Knife, reminds me of early Gibson, but the playing field is the water-parched Southwest rather than the online world. Like The Windup Girl, it has a hard-hitting environmental theme.
This is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi novels. Set in a drought-ravaged Southwestern U.S. (primarily Phoenix and Las Vegas), water is scarce, and Arizona, Nevada, and California fight over the meager water that remains. This novel is dark and grittily realistic with complex, well-developed characters, expert worldbuilding, and a gripping plot. I couldn’t put it down.
June 2015 Indie Next List
“The near-future depicted in The Water Knife is disturbing and disorienting in its familiarity. Imagine an America so scraped away by ecological disasters - hurricanes, dust storms, and drought - and the brutal struggle to control the water supply that results in a refugee crisis in the Southwest rivaling those that have devastated third world nations. This book moves like a high-octane thriller but includes a wealth of warnings about where America and the world at large may be headed: a dark future where the brutal reality of everyday survival makes people, corporations, and governments do terrible things. The Water Knife may turn out to be 2015's most talked about book.”
— Vladimir Verano, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
WATER IS POWER Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times best-selling author of The Windup Girl and National Book Award finalist, delivers a near-future thriller that casts new light on how we live today--and what may be in store for us tomorrow. The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel "cuts" water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix's water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky. As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another's hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.
About the Author
PAOLO BACIGALUPI is a Hugo, Nebula, and Michael L. Printz Award winner, as well as a National Book Award finalist. He is also a winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the John W. Campbell Award, and a three-time winner of the Locus Award. His short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and High Country News. He lives with his wife and son in western Colorado, where he is working on a new novel. www.windupstories.com