What if the devastating drought in the western U.S. doesn't end? A few years ago, the science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi started exploring what could happen.
"Lake Powell and Lake Mead were hitting historic lows, and they weren't re-filling the way they were supposed to. Las Vegas was, in fact, digging deeper and deeper intakes into Lake Mead," he remembers. "This question of scarcity. This question of too many people needing too little water."
Those questions inspired Bacigalupi to write The Water Knife, a noir-ish, cinematic thriller set in the midst of a water war between Las Vegas and Phoenix. The novel follows three people: a climate refugee, a journalist, and a "water knife" — a secret agent for Las Vegas's ruthless water czar. Think Chinatown meets Mad Max.