City of Ash • 2015 • CliFi short story by Paolo Bacigalupi


This very short teaser story prequels The Water Knife which is a climatic fiction set some 50 years in Arizona’s future. It features the novel’s protagonist Maria Villarosa when she was still full of hope, as her father got a job which would give them enough water. The story captures the novel’s setting very good – with Phoenix unrelenting heat, drought, Clearsacs, Chinese building corporations, Red Cross water pumps, vertical hydroponic gardens. The refugee situation, or Oklahoma border militias are only lurking at the story’s horizon.

It is a nice addition for fans of the novel and also a good introduction to the setting. But given its shortness of only five pages, don’t expect too much action or character development. I found the ending to be quite predictable.

If you liked this, you might want to read Shooting the Apocalypse which is far better than this story. The author also published a story A Hot Day’s Night, featuring Charlene and Lucy from the novel.


Meta: GR. It is available online.

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