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The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter

The Water Thief

by Nicholas Lamar Soutter

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This book imagines a world sometime in the future where the form of rule is Capitalism and everything - and I do mean everything - is for sale. From the moment you are born you have a value and your futures are bartered and sold by your parents. You have a computerized ledger that tracks your "caps" and you pay for your air, your water and even your friends. In this dystopian world we meet Charles Thatcher, a mid level employee of Ackerman Brothers Securities Corporation - or rather he is owned by them. His function is to drive perceptions because perception is reality whether it's the truth or not. Or in current dialog - spin rules.

Charles finds an interesting story about a woman accused of "stealing" water by using a solar still. The woman is educated and has money so he doesn't understand why she is choosing to live in a low rent district and why she doesn't hire a lawyer to fight the charge. After he writes his report and sends it up the line she vanishes. He finds himself intrigued by the supposed sedition she was espousing so he tracks down a friend of hers and that starts his downfall. Or does it?

This was a fascinating book. Really far out of my usual choice for a book but something about it appealed to me and I'm very glad that I did read it. It's not perfect; some of the conversations about socialism, capitalism, democracy, etc. go on for too long and are far too textbook to just be a chat between friends. The world created by Mr. Soutter though is well defined from the descriptions of the different class worlds to the dark, dreary atmosphere to the marvel Charles feels over the novelty of "cooking." The characters are developed and true to their place and their motives keep you guessing. The story is very thought provoking particularly given today's political climate. It ends in a way I was not expecting and that made for a very satisfying book. One that I will keep to read again for I feel this is one of those books that will change with the times and with successive readings. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Dec 23, 2013 |
The Water Thief is a dystopian novel in the vein of 1984. Instead of a communist government, we have no government. Everything is a part of the free market. Everything. Pure Capitalism. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ only profit and how to make money.

Charles Thatcher is a private citizen. Which does not mean what one would expect. It means that he is privately owned by a corporation. Many would consider that a good thing, especially when it is one as big and as important as the Ackerman Brothers. Plenty of room for advancement. Everything is for sale, including people. You can sell your own futures to whoever you want and those futures can be traded on a stock market. Not only that, if your shares fall in value too much, they might liquidate your assets to recoup their losses. This does not mean selling your portfolio. Human organs are still worth quite a lot for those with power and money and the need.

Charles is a man with a problem. He wants more out of life than having to worry every minute of every day of someone ratting him out or making him a scapegoat for a few dollars. It is truly a dog eat dog world and you have to be on your guard 24 - 7. Even at home with one’s spouse.

And then he meets a girl. A girl that holds views he doesn’t want to admit, even to himself, that he wants to believe. That there is a better way to run the world and government isn’t the terrible horror it’s portrayed to be. Then things start to unravel.

I found this book to be an incredible read, but then I liked 1984, Fahrenheit 451, etc. Dystopians have 2 basic endings and with as strongly as this one reminded me of 1984 I had a pretty good idea of how it would end. I was surprised at how close I had the ending picked out. But even with that, I still sat and thought about the different twists and turns the ending implied as possible but never stated. The big lesson to learn here is that any form of “government” taken to extremes becomes a form of totalitarianism. It shows that extreme Capitalism isn’t any better a way of life than any other “ism”. Be wary of those who preach otherwise. ( )
  readafew | Nov 2, 2013 |
In a futuristic society where one is ruled by Corporations, everything costs caps, even rainwater and air.

Sarah Aisling, who once was very well off but decided that was no life, stole rainwater and was arrested for her crime. Charles Thatcher decided this was something to write about, as that was his job at Ackerman Brothers Securities, finding topics for stories and getting paid for it.

The more he thought about it, the more it intrigued him. He began to dig deeper into her past. When he could not locate her, he found her best friend Kate. Charles and Kate became friends and she showed him the other side, where those less fortunate found a way to survive.

Ackerman Brothers did not like what Charles was doing. His colleagues became concerned about him and his doings. You will have to read for yourself to see which side wins out, if any at all. ( )
  sewolf0310 | Jul 8, 2012 |
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Charles Thatcher is a private citizen, which is to say that he's the private property of the Ackerman Brothers Securities Corporation. He's got problems: the cost of air is going up, his wife wants to sell herself to another corporation, and his colleagues are always trying to get him tossed into the lye vats. But when he discovers a woman stealing rainwater, he sees his chance to move up in the world, maybe even become an executive. He reports her, spinning a picture, not just of a thief, but of a seditionist and revolutionary, someone who believes in that long-dead institution called "government." Then she vanishes. Overcome with guilt, he tries to track her down. What he discovers is an underground movement every bit as seditious as the one he had imagined. But as he becomes enamored with their cause and with life outside his corporation, Charles must contend with a larger truth; in a world where everything is for sale and lies are more profitable than the truth, even a group of revolutionaries can have something to hide.--From back cover.… (more)

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