By Doreen Vanderstoop
You may think you’re on familiar CanLit ground with a novel about a family of hardscrabble farmers trying to save their struggling homestead from predatory corporate interests. And, in so far as the basic landscape goes, you’d be right. But the year is 2058 and, climate change having done its work and turned southern Alberta into a dustbowl where a 500 ml bottle of water costs $8.50 and only the rich enjoy the luxury of flush toilets, different forces are now in play.
In this drought-stricken Alberta the only pipelines that matter are ones, like the retrofitted Northern Gateway, that carry water. Politics, big business, and the environment are still a toxic mix, and Willa Van Bruggen’s family is right in the middle of it, as she and her husband try to keep the farm going even while her conflicted son lands a job working for the water company. Throw in some ecoterrorists and picking sides gets complicated.
Though they’ve always been important in science fiction, environmental issues have, for obvious reasons, grown in prominence in recent SF. So much so that the label Cli-Fi has been adopted for a whole subgenre of fiction imagining the effects of climate change. In Watershed Cli-Fi hits home, both in a national and more domestic sense.