In Paolo Bacigalupi’s ‘Water Knife,’ Western Water Wars Get Ugly

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<p>(Photo: CPR / Michael Hughes)</p>
<p>Paolo Bacigalupi</p>

News about climate change can get so bleak that you tune it out, says author Paolo Bacigalupi, of Paonia. Yet he chose it as the subject of his new sci-fi thriller, "The Water Knife." He hopes his fiction can humanize what’s at stake in a way scientific papers can't.

The book is set in the not-too-distant future and is a tale of two cities: Las Vegas, which is thriving thanks to a cunning, cutthroat water manager, and Phoenix, which has dry run and feels apocalyptic.

Paolo Bacigalupi is a National Book Award finalist, for his young adult novel “The Ship Breaker.” His 2009 debut, “The Windup Girl,” landed him a slew of awards, including a Nebula for science fiction.


Bacigalupi on the feel of "The Water Knife"

"I did want this to be a very near-future-feeling story. I wanted it to feel like it could be happening to any of us. I didn't want anybody with cyber implants."

On the concept of the book

"It's a very free-market system, right, and so ensures that nobody undervalues water. On the other hand, what it means is that if you're too poor you can only afford a cup of water and somebody who is rich can afford gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons. You know there's this saying, actually, in the west that water flows towards money, and this is very much that."

On being an author in the age of social media

"I can open up my Twitter feed and see somebody say, 'Well, I can't decide who is more overrated, Paolo Bacigalupi or Ann Lekee, and they've tagged both of us. There's a casual level of social violence that goes on in social media all the time. We're still learning how to be human on the Internet."