Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi's new novel is The Water Knife.

From his NPR interview with Arun Rath:

ARUN RATH, HOST: What if the devastating drought in the west doesn't end? A few years ago, science-fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi started paying attention to what's been happening to the water supply out here.

PAOLO BACIGALUPI: Lake Powell and Lake Mead were hitting sort of historic lows, and they weren't refilling the way they were supposed to. And Las Vegas was in fact digging deeper and deeper intakes into Lake Mead. And you could sort of see the storyline was already there - this question of scarcity, this question of too many people needing too little water. You know, and so as a fiction writer, you're like, well, what happens next?

RATH: One possibility - the world depicted in Bacigalupi's new novel "The Water Knife." It's a noirish, cinematic sci-fi thriller - sort of "Chinatown" meets "Mad Max." He told me he was inspired by his work in environmental journalism because he realized most people don't get a real sense of danger from news reports or photos of shrinking reservoirs.

BACIGALUPI: You know, there's the blue sky. There's the pretty, white bathtub ring. There's the red rocks. There's the blue water. It doesn't look like a disaster. And so as a fiction writer, you sort of take - here's a piece of information. Let me explain to you exactly why this actually is a disaster. And it's not because the water level is low today. It's because it seems to be going somewhere. And the context is really only if we viscerally understand what the potential future is. Once you understand a potential future - if you live inside of that world, if you live inside of that water scarcity, if you see people reacting, if you see a water riot, if you see a climate refugee or you live in the skin of a climate refugee, suddenly that makes more sense than just, oh, we've noticed that, you know, Lake Mead is now at a historically low level. That's a news item. It's fairly dry and fairly abstract.

RATH: And you paint this - this really bleak, terrible picture of what water refugees in America would be like - basically, if Texas were to dry up...


RATH: You know, people trying to get to wetter states. You have the whole - the whole Northwest, you know, Washington and Oregon are basically - they have a wall to...


RATH: ...Keep - keep the thirsty people out...

BACIGALUPI: Right, yeah...[read on, or listen to the interview]
Writers Read: Paolo Bacigalupi (March 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue