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The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
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The Water Knife

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1556511,104 (3.84)73
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, ensuring that lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust. 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.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, jjlenning, joyhclark, bunnykaiju, alent1234, prufrockcoat, joiken, greggchadwick
  1. 40
    Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: Reisner's history of water in the West is an inspiration for the novel.
  2. 20
    Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: Another eco-thriller
  3. 10
    Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins (sturlington)
    sturlington: Contrasting stories of climate change and water shortages in the Southwestern US.
  4. 10
    The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy (4leschats)
    4leschats: Post-apocalyptic water shortage leads to power struggles and fights for survival
  5. 00
    Odds against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich (sturlington)
    sturlington: Climate change, destroyed cities
  6. 11
    Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (bookfitz)
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» See also 73 mentions

English (63)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (65)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
Interesting topic, felt more like a novella than a novel though. ( )
  AnnaHernandez | Oct 17, 2019 |
Really good fiction on how the water wars may play out in the Southwest. Definitely recommend a read! ( )
  skyintist | Jul 31, 2019 |
three major characters in a near-future story set in Phoenix, Arizona in which the politics of water rights and the desperation of its attendant refugees is endangering the future for all but the very rich. the style is hardboiled and brutal, and it moves very fast while breaking things, but it upends some of the conventions of noir to expand its canvas, it's a pretty indelible and stylish example of environmental sf, and i liked it a lot. ( )
  macha | May 2, 2019 |
3.5 rounded up

It was a view of the world that anticipated evil from people because people always delivered. And the worst part was that she couldn’t really argue.


The ethics behind conservation suggest we self limit for the sake of a future. We are aware that others before didn't heed certain similar claims and that others in the world, often those on the wrong side of technology (and/or colonialism) are now being asked to conserve without a proverbial season in the sun. It is this bracket of impulses --well beyond the belief and the data -- which keeps a carbon conscious consensus from being the norm.

I am not usually taken by suspense in the literature. Graham Greene has kept me tingly on occasion but I don't usually seek out such charged encounters. This novel featured overlapping POVs which did register such a response. The premise is bleak, some dark shit is afoot. The oceans are rising, terrific storms ravage the coasts while forest fires and droughts have left the air pretty hostile across the southwest as the aquifers all evaporate. This a is a very intriguing story which indulges in some blatant plot hijinks in the fourth quarter. I did enjoy the experience. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Let me preface this by saying that I'm not very much about sci-fi books. This one, however, seemed less far fetched and more probable than some sci-fi as it dealt with what will happen when our country (and world, I suppose) runs short of water. I thought it was competently written, if not trying a little too hard with prosaic flourishes. As with all novels, but especially sci-fi, it's important that the reader be sure of the world the story takes place in, and that was my main issue with The Water Knife. There was a little too much going on with too little explanation as to where and why. The world of the book felt like a half-drawn map that I was waiting for the author to fill in. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
To some critics and commentators, climate change is also having a deep effect on literature, as more authors focus more closely on the actual and possible consequences of the subject in their fiction. The genre, if it can be called that yet, represents a loose affiliation that stretches back at least to J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World and includes such authors as Ian McEwan, Ursula LeGuin, Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood. The Water Knife is perhaps the best, most-recent example of "climate fiction," and it expertly taps a wellspring of fascination and fear that runs beneath a culture ever digging a deeper hole for itself and the environment.
 
In The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi's best-selling, Hugo- and Nebula-winning debut, the author imagines a 23rd century in which the forces of commerce have run amok over the basic, biological building blocks of life. In his equally powerful sophomore novel, The Water Knife, he takes a similar approach to an inorganic substance without which human life wouldn't exist: H2O. But where The Windup Girl takes place hundreds of years from now in Southeast Asia, The Water Knife hits closer to home for U.S. readers. Its setting is the American Southwest, at a time in the near future when Britney Spears is toothless and old, the country is plagued by climactic calamities and the Southwest's dwindling water supply is controlled by robber barons.
....
Bacigalupi plays on a grand scale, but he does so with a keen eye for detail... His big triumph, though, is never forgetting that The Water Knife is a thriller at its pounding heart. Even amid reams of deeply researched information about the economy, geology, history and politics of water rights and usage in the U.S., he keeps the plot taut and the dialogue slashing.
added by grizzly.anderson | editNPR, Jason Heller (May 28, 2015)
 
"But this is no pastiche; Bacigalupi weaves an engrossing tale all his own, crackling with edgy style."
 
"With elements of Philip K. Dick and Charles Bowden, this epic, visionary novel should appeal to a wide audience."
added by bookfitz | editPublishers Weekly (Mar 16, 2015)
 
"An absorbing, if sometimes ideologically overbearing, thriller full of violent action and depressing visions of a bleakly imagined future."
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 1, 2015)
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paolo Bacigalupiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Guerra, AlmarieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Anjula.
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There were stories in sweat.
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On ne juge pas les gens parce qu'ils craquent sous la pression, on les juge pour ces quelques fois où ils ont la chance de pouvoir choisir.
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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.
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