A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth and humanity through four generations of women, each with a unique relationship to water.
“Lyrical and dystopian, ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ is as much an ode to water as it is a cautionary tale about the dire implications of climate change.”
—FOREWORD CLARION 5-STAR REVIEW
“In poetic prose with sober factual basis, Munteanu transmutes a harrowing dystopia into a transcendentalist origin myth. An original cautionary tale that combines a family drama with an environmental treatise.”
“An exceptional and thought-provoking dystopian fiction.”
“The prose here is beautiful and purposeful in the tradition of environmentally and socially minded novelists such as Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood.”—WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
“A chilling but believable portrayal of what might happen as fresh water becomes scarcer.”–MIRAMICHI READER
’A Diary’ is a brilliant story…Munteanu writes with fresh, stimulating style.”
—CRAIG H. BOWLSBY, author of The Knights of Winter
“One of the most important books of a generation.”
“An eye-opening story for those who are still on the fence about climate change. This is the perfect fall read for both sci-fi readers and eco-interested readers alike.”
—ANTHONY AVINA, author, review blog
“The story like water itself fills you, moves you, hypnotizes you, and eventually, totally engulfs you.”
“Thoroughly researched and cleverly executed, A Diary in the Age of Water is a must-read, especially for those who are longing for nature, and touch, while fearing both.”
—CARA MOYNES, Amazon Review
Centuries from now, in a dying boreal forest in what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, yearns for Earth’s past—the Age of Water, before the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity. Looking for answers and plagued by vivid dreams of this holocaust, Kyo discovers the diary of Lynna, a limnologist from a time just prior to the destruction. The diary spans a 20-year period in the mid-20thcentury and describes a planet in the grip of severe water scarcity. Lynna, in her work for an international utility that controls everything to do with water, witnesses and records the disturbing events that will soon lead to humanity’s demise.
“Evoking Ursula LeGuin’s unflinching humane and moral authority, Nina Munteanu takes us into the lives of four generations of women and their battles against a global giant that controls and manipulates Earth’s water. In a diary that entwines acute scientific observation with poignant personal reflection, Lynna’s story unfolds incrementally, like climate change itself. Particularly harrowing are the neighbourhood water betrayals, along with Lynna’s deliberately dehydrated appearance meant to deflect attention from her own clandestine water collection. Her estrangement from her beloved daughter, her “dark cascade” who embarks upon a deadly path of her own, is heart-wrenching. Munteanu elegantly transports us between Lynna’s exuberant youth and her tormented present, between microcosm and macrocosm, linking her story and struggles-and those of her mother, daughter, and granddaughter-to the life force manifest in water itself. In language both gritty and hauntingly poetic, Munteanu delivers an uncompromising warning of our future.”
— LYNN HUTCHINSON LEE, multimedia artist, author, and playwright
The story carries the personal journeys of four strong and complex women characters. It gives them much agency in dealing with the climate and water crisis—socially, politically, and environmentally. One is a political activist, another a wary scientist, another an anarchist, and another a naive free spirit. While A Diary in the Age of Water showcases strong women characters, its climate and environmental theme carries the story through the four generations to its climax.
“In Canadian ecologist Munteanu’s novel, a child in a world of climate disaster discovers hidden truths about the past in a mysterious journal… In a story set centuries in the future, a young girl with four arms named Kyo lives on the last vestige of a planet damaged by climate crisis, water scarcity, and a cataclysm brought on by semi-divine figures called the Water Twins. Kyo comes across the 21st-century journal of a limnologist named Lynna; over two decades, the journal’s author details Earth’s fate with scientific observations on the harm wrought by corporate greed, as well as her own personal struggles raising a child in a world of catastrophe and authoritarianism. She’s a deeply relatable and tragically flawed character who’s wracked by doubt, fear, and cynicism—a stark contrast to her fierce environmentalist mother, Una, and her spiritual, idealistic daughter, Hildegard. What unites them all is the study of water: its intrinsic properties, its mysteries, and ultimately its necessity to the planet. In poetic prose with sober factual basis, Munteanu transmutes a harrowing dystopia into a transcendentalist origin myth… A sobering and original cautionary tale that combines a family drama with an environmental treatise…The author asks uncomfortable questions and explores the effects of one generation’s actions upon the next as they ripple outward like a stone dropped in a pond.”
Part of the story is told through the diary of a limnologist (someone who studies freshwater) who witnesses and suffers through severe water taxes and imposed restrictions, dark intrigue through neighbourhood water betrayals, corporate spying and espionage, and repression of her scientific freedoms. Some people die. Others disappear…
As with the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, A Diary in the Age of Water draws its premises and plot from real events and historic phenomena, and draws on the real science of limnology as connective tissue to create a believable reality.
“Munteanu gives us a dystopian shiver fest as if applying electro-shock therapy to our souls. We’re poised at a dark crossroads in our planet’s life, and like one of the ghosts in Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Munteanu wields our past and present as a whip to force us to view our final, bleak future… Diary is a blended treatise of what is and what might be…Reminiscent of Melville’s ‘Moby Dick,’ where the story alternates between a treatise on whaling and the tortured search for the White Whale, Munteanu’s novel entwines the science into the narrative…’A Diary’ is a brilliant story…Munteanu writes with fresh, stimulating style, and she takes us through these characters’ minds with a rich flow of metaphor and insight.”
—CRAIG H. BOWLSBY, author of The Knights of Winter
One of the real events the book explores is the original 1960s NAWAPA project for massive water diversion. The original NAWAPA (North America Water Power Alliance) plan was drawn up by the Pasadena-based firm Ralph M. Parsons Co. in 1964, and had a favorable review by Congress for completion in the 1990s. The plan—thankfully never completed—was drafted by the US Army Corps of Engineers and entailed the southward diversion of a portion (if not all) of the Mackenzie and Yukon rivers in northern Canada and Alaska, now flowing into the Arctic Ocean as well as the Peace, Liard and other rivers flowing into the Pacific by creating massive dams in the north. This would cause the rivers to flow backwards into the mountains to form vast reservoirs that would flood one-tenth of British Columbia. The water would be channeled south through the 800-km Rocky Mountain Trench Reservoir into the Northern USA, and from there along various routes into the dry regions of the South, to California and reaching as far as Mexico.
NAWAPA was envisioned as the largest construction effort of all times, comprising some 369 separate projects of dams, canals, and tunnels, for water diversion. The water diversion would be accomplished through a series of connecting tunnels, canals, lakes, dams, and pump-lifts, as the trench itself is located at an elevation of 914 m (3,000 feet). To the east, a 9 m (thirty-foot) deep canal would be cut from the Peace River to Lake Superior. NAWAPA’s largest proposed dam would be 518 m (1,700 feet) tall, more than twice the height of Hoover Dam (at 221 m) and taller than any dam in the world today, including the Jinping-I Dam in China (at 305 m).
The story begins and ends in the far future with Kyo—a blue forest nymph with four arms—in the dying boreal forest, who yearns to know more about the “Age of Water” when the water twins effectively destroyed humanity. She finds a diary by limnologist Lynna during that time who describes a Canada suffering severe water scarcity. The premise of a formerly water-rich country currently suffering water scarcity has precedence in real historic and current events. Kyo’s story frames the cynical limnologist’s diary of the near-future. Kyo represents the future. She has many questions and must learn history to better recognize her future. In her metaphoric connection to water, the planet and new humanity, Kyo represents humanity’s own coming of age.
The premise of ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ is totally enthralling. It begins in a world altered beyond recognition by humans’ response to a changing climate. Kyo finds the diary that tells the story, not only of how this world came to be but how she came to be … The characters are real, living out their lives just as we do, limited by our weaknesses and expanded by our strengths. Science and story-telling intermingle to create ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’. A must read!
— GOODREADS REVIEW
in some important way, water is the fifth character. You could say even the main character. Water is the theme that carries each woman on her personal journey with climate change and the devastation that occurs—through water. Climate change is a water phenomenon, after all. Water—like place and setting—plays a subtle yet powerful role in the story, influencing each character in her own way and bringing them together in the overall journey of humanity during a time of great and catastrophic change.
“Transcendent… A book of genuine power, A Diary in the Age of Water, is simply and beautifully told, profoundly true; a novel that invites us to embrace the wisdom of ages. The story stirs its readers, teaches them about the importance of water, and leaves an imprint on the canvas of the literary and scientific world.”
— LUCIA MONICA GOREA, author of Journey Through My Soul
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and novelist. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books. Nina’s bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” was published by Mincione Edizioni in Rome. Her non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press(Vancouver) was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada. Her novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” was released by Inanna Publications (Toronto) in June 2020.