“The Water Thief”
by Nicholas Lamar Soutter
Published by CreateSpace
248 pages

When it comes to dystopian type stories, “1984,” “A Brave New World,” et. al, there is always a lesson to learn or a possible warning about how certain extremes can create a bleak future. This book is no exception. “The Water Thief” tells of a near future where democracy is not only dead, but that it was killed by capitalism. I remember reading Ayn Rand’s book, “Atlas Shrugged,” and learning that corporations and the rich are needed for the world to continue to exist. This book approaches those ideals presented by Rand and smashes them down. In fact there are times when the author, Nicholas Lamar Soutter makes reference to Ayn Rand’s capitalist classic, such as the Atlas square where a statue of Atlas is perpetually shrugging, and various other references that are fun to find while reading this potentially depressing, yet enlightening, story of what could happen.

In the bleak future of “The Water Thief,” corporations or Corps run everything and the Leviathian known as government has been destroyed. Everything is up for sale, and if one is to survive Creds must be paid to purchase everything, even air and water. Everyone carries a badge that keeps track of their credits or “Creds.” The badges are also a way for the corporations to track a person’s every movement and keep track of licenses, such as if one desires to smoke, a license must be purchased and kept up to date. Parents sell their children to the Corps for their futures. So from the day you are sold you owe the Corp everything.

Charles Thatcher is a mere cog in the corporate wheel, he is a Mid-Con, which is pretty much equal to the middle class. His job is in perception, where he finds news stories that may damage the reputation of the Corp and rewrite them to make the Corp look better, and when he can make the corp money he looks even better. For example when a toy injures a child and may make the corp lose money because of a flaw that could injure more, Charles rewrites the story in which it now appears as though the child was intentionally misusing the toy so his parents could sue the corp, the corp then sues the family and gains more money.

In this dystopian future, anyone who goes against the corp is brought to justice in one of many ways. The most popular is public hangings which are broadcast on television much like today’s reality shows. The audience cheers as the traitors to the Corp are hanged. Another form is simple reclamation, this reminded me a lot of “Soylent Green,” in that the person that committed the crime is so low on the rankings that there would be no profit in airing their death that their bodies are simply boiled down to their basics and rendered into soap. Yes, it a pretty dismal future.

Charles’ future is changed when he runs across a story of a woman who uses a means to capture water from the air and clean it for personal use. The problem is that the Corp already provides water for the public and she is therefore stealing from the corp. She turns out to be an heiress to a major European Corp and has shifted her allegiances and seeks to bring back the Leviathan of Government. Charles turns her story and rewrites it to get more money for the Corp. But he can’t seem to let the idea of the Water Thief out of his head.

Charles’ wife leaves him, which turns out to be a corporate move for the both of them, marriage in this world is no longer based on love or procreation but rather how this can make money for the parties involved. A perfect example of the lack of love is that in a super excited state, the wife gives Charles a gift of a porn magazine, telling him he should get some pleasure out of that.

Charles then begins to track down the history of this Water Thief, and finds a whole movement to bring back government. This movement claims that through their misappropriations all the corps will be failing soon. Charles then must make a decision as to which story to believe, the fall of the Corps or that they are too big to fail. Charles decision is his own, but he’s fallen in love with a woman in the movement of the LowCons, and his future seems to be no longer his own.

Nicholas Lamar Soutter, weaves a tale of the near future that not only offers us today a bit of a warning, but he also offers up the idea of what we can do to avoid this all in the subtext of this book that will soon become a classic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a good rebuttal to Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” This would also be a nice addition to anyone’s bookshelf that is a fan of “1984,” “A Brave New World,” “The Hunger Games,” or “The Running Man.” Out of those books just mentioned, this one is actually less future and more now.

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