Friday 25 May 2018

Review: The Tamarisk Hunter by Paolo Bacigalupi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is available online on the author's website at

I'm just reading his futuristic eco-thriller Wind-up Girl and this is the first short story by Paolo Bacigalupi that I have read. Once again he tackles the theme of change, this time climate change, drought and its impact on the land, lives and society.

Lolo and Annie scrape a living in a not-to-far-off future where the American West is gripped by Big Daddy Drought. Lolo makes a living as a 'water tick' - someone who tracks down and kills off Tamarisk trees. "A big tamarisk can suck 73,000 gallons of river water a year. For $2.88 a day, plus water bount, Lolo rips tamarisk all winter long." Yes there is water, but it is all siphoned off to the cities in California. Towns have bankrupted, dried up and been deserted as people move south to the cities or further north where there is water. This story reminded me of the movie thriller Chinatown where the water department is drying up the land so it can be bought at a reduced price. Ultimately all the tamarisks will be found, water ticking will be a thing of the past and Lolo's life will irrevocably change.

****SPOILER ALERT **** But Lolo's smart. Lolo has a plan; a plan to ensure his livelihood, his family's survival; a plan to ensure he'll never run out of tamarisk to find and that him and his wife never get flung of their land as Annie's family had been before. However, fate is like a scorpion; it always has a sting in its tail.

ashramblings 4* Bacigalupi paints an eco-inspired future in all its hardships that anyone living or visiting drought struck lands can relate to. His reader will be in empathy with Lolo's attempts to 'beat the system' and be heartbroken at the stories denouement.

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