Water Rites includes three previously uncollected novelettes from the Drylands universe.
We failed to check global warming. In this dry future water is the most valuable resource. It is power. And in the US, the Army Corps of Engineers has become the guardian and keeper of water. Life is metered by water – by it’s lack and its location. And who controls it.
Major Carter Voltaire, newly in charge of The Pipeline, the enormous water project that keeps much of the western US alive, finds himself standing between thirsty locals and the need to provide water to the many. He has seen devastating water riots and must find a way to prevent that from happening here, while protecting precious water.
There are no good answers.
"In Mary Rosenblum's Water RItes, climate change has parched the Western states into a desert. The Columbia River has been pumped dry to keep the region struggling along. The four connected stories span several decades of decline around the desiccated Columbia. . .[Rosenblum's] depiction of people and a social order under almost unendurable stress make this book well worth reading."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Mary Rosenblum's first novel, The Drylands, appeared way back in 1993, developing a theme and setting she had used in earlier short stories. It is the Pacific Northwest of the future after global warming has altered the ecology of the world dramatically. Water is so scarce in North America that it is the most valuable commodity, administered by the Army Corps of Engineers, conducted through massive pipelines. While the populace alternates between apathy and rioting, it seems that the situation is getting worse rather than better. Life in the barren areas is also having an effect on human heredity. This new volume includes that novel, plus three short stories using the same setting. There are two other Drylands stories, not included in this volume. In the novel, a military officer tries to intercede between the army and a group of farmers who have become increasingly desperate. An undercurrent through all is the fear felt by those with subtle mutations caused by the drought conditions - a presumption that takes something of a leap of faith - but it provides another degree of depth to the conflict. Her most recent novels are more polished, but this one remains entertaining as well as thought provoking."
—Don D'Ammassa, Critical Mass
"A powerful vision of an all-too-likely future America, compelling and compulsively readable."
"Far more than a cautionary tale...[it] marks one of the strongest debuts in recent science-fiction history. Clearly the work of a major new talent."
"The kind of book that makes me remember why I love to read SF. Mary Rosenblum is a terrific new writer and I can't wait to see what she does next."
—Joan D. Vinge
"An exciting and vivid novel."
"In straightforward but evocative prose, Rosenblum builds a convincing picture of a disintegrating society in an increasingly barren landscape."