cover image The Water Knife

The Water Knife

Paolo Bacigalupi. Knopf, $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-385-35287-1

Hugo Award–winner Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl) delivers an ambitious, genre-dissolving thriller and a timely cautionary tale. In an indeterminate near future, extreme water shortages have made the Southwestern United States a dystopia, with the privileged few living in elite “arcologies” with self-generating water recycling systems. The depleted Colorado River has become one of the last lifelines and the object of armed conflict among the residents of Arizona, California, and Nevada. Angel Velasquez is a “water knife,” a sort of mercenary factotum, whose job is to secure as much water as possible for his Las Vegas boss, arcology developer Catherine Case. Sent to investigate a possible water source near drought-stricken Phoenix, Angel soon crosses paths with an idealistic journalist, Lucy Monroe, whose underground dispatches put her in constant danger. As vigilante bloodshed and desperation threaten to consume Phoenix, whispers of a 150-year-old document surface that may settle the water rights dispute and bring life back to the desert metropolis. With elements of Philip K. Dick and Charles Bowden, this epic, visionary novel should appeal to a wide audience. Seven-city author tour; 150,000-copy first printing. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh. (May)