Tag Archives: paolo bacigalupi

Water and a drying West

We’re having a rainy few days here in Austin. After living here for going on six years, the last three of them during increasingly drastic drought conditions, my relationship to water and rain has changed significantly. When I travel, I’m hyper-aware of ponds, creeks, and puddles. Rain can wake me up in the night.

Which is why this story by Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl and the YA best seller Shipbreaker, chills me every time I read it. Bacigalupi writes stories about post-oil, post-environmental-collapse futures. The Tamarisk Hunter imagines a drought-torn West in which California has laid claim to all the water rights on the West Coast, leaving the rest of the region desiccated and empty.

At first, when California started winning its water lawsuits and shutting off cities, the displaced people just followed the water — right to California. It took a little while before the bureaucrats realized what was going on, but finally someone with a sharp pencil did the math and realized that taking in people along with their water didn’t solve a water shortage. So the immigration fences went up.