Behold the Deluge as the Levees Break

The Water Knife
Paolo Bacigalupi
Science Fiction
Hachette
June 2015
Paperback

the_water_knifeFor someone who quite enjoys science fiction movies, I sure don’t like thinking about the future. It’s scary, it’s worrying, and in order to live my life without being cripplingly depressed I do have to become one of those head-in-sand people about some things. This is especially the case when it comes to near future climate change fiction, a genre I pointedly avoid. But it’s not just earth futures; it’s space as well, that unfathomably huge universe. Nothing against space personally, I just don’t need an existential crisis right now. Thanks.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife, then, was a book I took up hesitantly for fear it would just upset me. Set in water-starved Arizona in a future where the United States has all but dissolved and swathes of people are fleeing death by dehydration, it is a grim view of the future indeed. The powers of Nevada, California and Arizona vie for drips of the Colorado river. Ruthless Angel, employed by Nevada, arrives in Arizona to chase up rumours that a new water source has been found. Lucy, a journalist, is chasing similar leads in her quest to uncover the truth behind Phoenix’s ever-increasing bodycount. Maria, a Texan refugee, tries to eke out a living selling water, fighting to survive Phoenix’s dangerous underworld. The plots of these three characters intertwine as they are all embroiled in the desparation and violence of a city in its death throes.

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If You’re Lost and You Look then You Will Find Me

IN THE NIGHT OF TIME
Antonio Muñoz Molina (trans. Edith Grossman; Tuskar Rock, 2015) ISBN: 978 1 78125 463 9. RRP $35.99 In the Night of time

Antonio Muñoz Molina is a Spanish literary heavyweight who I, poor ignorant, had never heard of before reviewing this book.  In the Night of Time is his 23rd book, a tome of luscious long paragraphs* and reverie; of love and desire; and of Spain at the outbreak of the devastating civil war of the 1930s.

My familiarity with Spanish literature, it must be said, is virtually non-existent.  I’m also not particularly well-apprised of the history of Spain, with my familiarity of any kind ending with the reign of of Ferdinand and Isabella.  That’s a good 650-odd years of history there.  Shame on me.  But the point of all this is to say that I can’t really comment on a number of matters regarding Molina’s novel.  Is it historically accurate?  It… seems to be.  Where does it fit in terms of Spanish-language literary trends?  It kind of seems vaguely similar to some of the South American books I’ve read in the past?  So for that I apologise, guys.

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