The Water Knife and I read this one while I was on vacation last week, just after reading Cloud Atlas. I was thinking about this story while I was writing about Cloud Atlas because they share some elements, so they made great back-to-back reads.
Bacigalupi's last book was also set in a future that isn't as warm and fuzzy as our current era, but it is certainly a possible future if we aren't more careful about global warming and natural resource management. Message received Paolo.
I wasn't sure what I was going to be reading about, as I didn't even read the jacket when I picked this up. I recognized the writer's name from The Wind-up Girl from a few years ago, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Water Knife didn't disappoint. I didn't put this one down very much and finished it pretty quickly.
Bacigalupi looks at the potential future of the western states after the water crisis has gotten so bad that states rights and water rights begin to trump federal mandates and the west gets wild again. Just like his last book, Bacigalupi has clearly spent some time thinking through his scenarios from all the angles so that the story he's built doesn't have any holes. From the violence people are willing to commit to get or just maintain their water supply, to the government mismanagement, to the day-to-day people who don't look at waste water the same any more, the desert takes on a new meaning, and the tragedy of an artificial desert oasis like Las Vegas or Phoenix takes on an ominous, if not perverse, aspect.
This book walks a careful line between novel and soft SciFi. My advice? Keep an eye on Paolo Bacigalupi. And read this book.