Can fiction make people care about climate? Paolo Bacigalupi thinks so


When Paolo Bacigalupi showed up at the Grist offices a couple of weeks ago prepared to talk about his book The Water Knife, he was also eager to talk about carbon taxes, dirty utilities, and the new solar panels he’d just had installed on his roof in Colorado. We shouldaknown: The sci-fi novelist has a former journalist’s obsessive attention to detail regarding all-things climate, and an author’s prolific ability to string ideas together as he finds them.

So it’s no surprise that his latest novel takes place in a not-so-distant future where drought — currently throwing California through a loop, with the promise of much worse to come — has reduced the American Southwest to a handful of city-states scuffling over the last dregs of water. On one end of the spectrum, you have Las Vegas employing a  baroque combination of legislation and good old-fashioned violence to wrestle water rights…

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