The Water Thief

( 7 )

Overview

"There is no difference between the saint who gives food to starving children and the worker who operates the gas chamber that kills them, except that one is making money and the other is losing it."

CHARLES THATCHER is a private citizen, which is to say that he's the private property of the Ackerman Brothers Securities Corporation. He's got problems: the cost of air is going up, his wife wants to sell herself to another corporation, and his ...

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Overview

"There is no difference between the saint who gives food to starving children and the worker who operates the gas chamber that kills them, except that one is making money and the other is losing it."

CHARLES THATCHER is a private citizen, which is to say that he's the private property of the Ackerman Brothers Securities Corporation. He's got problems: the cost of air is going up, his wife wants to sell herself to another corporation, and his colleagues are always trying to get him tossed into the lye vats.

But when he discovers a woman stealing rainwater, he sees his chance to move up in the world, maybe even become an executive. He reports her, painting a picture, not just of a thief, but of a seditionist and revolutionary, someone who believes in that long-dead institution called "government."

When she suddenly vanishes, he fears the worst and begins trying to track her down. What he finds is a nightmare far worse than he'd imagined-that his report on her may actually have been right.

Now engaged with a small rebel group, Charles learns about life outside his corporation. But in a world where everything is for sale and lies are more profitable than the truth, he begins to wonder if even these revolutionaries have something to hide.

Nick Soutter was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife and their two daughters. His works include From Inside the Mirror, Twin Mirrors, and Killdroid Rising

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In a world ruled by capitalism, an empathetic corporate worker questions the principles upon which the society functions. Soutter's debut novel is a scathing, ceaselessly engaging examination of capitalism and corporatism. At Ackerman Brothers Securities Corporation, Charles Thatcher works as a Perception Manager; his job is to process and deflect any negativity regarding the corporation. Now that the government has crumbled, capitalism is the new regime, with constant demands for profitable information, either substantiated or speculative. Charles hopes for higher compensation by spinning the story of a woman stealing rainwater, but soon after his ploy, he begins to mull over the consequences and regret his actions. A meeting with Kate, a friend of the woman, leaves Charles reassessing the value of a civilization run by the rich, as he wonders how long capitalism can sustain itself. The story intimates that men and their actions--not just an immaterial idea--are the essential cause of immorality, but it centers on the undesirable fallout of money as the corollary source of power. Soutter's vision of capitalistic supremacy is gleefully absurd: A simple elevator ride costs five cents per floor and information is only conveyed for a price. Societal classes are now purchasable contracts and the poor reside in LowSec (Low Security); a citizen's lot in life, like all commodities, is bought and paid for. There are also welcome dashes of satire derived from characters unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge irony: a Perception Manager writing a report on an unflattering anti–Perception Management story; Linus, a higher-ranking colleague than Charles, offers an alternative moral regarding mendacity (he's not against lying, but rather against telling the same lie more than once). Charles has many lengthy discussions with Kate over now-archaic standards (to them), like people electing other people into power, but their talks are never tedious or repetitive. Their conversations also lead to one of the book's most potent lines: "The single best indicator of where you end up in life is where you start, no matter what the capitalists tell you." Profound, provocative and sure to spark a reaction.
Kirkus Reviews
In a world ruled by capitalism, an empathetic corporate worker questions the principles upon which the society functions. Soutter's debut novel is a scathing, ceaselessly engaging examination of capitalism and corporatism. At Ackerman Brothers Securities Corporation, Charles Thatcher works as a perception manager; his job is to process and deflect any negativity regarding the corporation. Now that the government has crumbled, capitalism is the new regime, with constant demands for profitable information, either substantiated or speculative. Charles hopes for higher compensation by spinning the story of a woman stealing rainwater, but soon after his ploy, he begins to mull over the consequences and regret his actions. A meeting with Kate, a friend of the woman, leaves Charles reassessing the value of a civilization run by the rich, as he wonders how long capitalism can sustain itself. The story intimates that men and their actions--not just an immaterial idea--are the essential cause of immorality, but it centers on the undesirable fallout of money as the corollary source of power. Soutter's vision of capitalistic supremacy is gleefully absurd: A simple elevator ride costs five cents per floor and information is only conveyed for a price. Societal classes are now purchasable contracts and the poor reside in LowSec (Low Security); a citizen's lot in life, like all commodities, is bought and paid for. There are also welcome dashes of satire derived from characters unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge irony: a perception manager writing a report on an unflattering anti–perception management story; Linus, Charles' higher-ranking colleague, offers an alternative moral regarding mendacity (he's not against lying, but rather against telling the same lie more than once). Charles has many lengthy discussions with Kate over now-archaic standards (to them), like people electing other people into power, but their talks are never tedious or repetitive. Their conversations also lead to one of the book's most potent lines: "The single best indicator of where you end up in life is where you start, no matter what the capitalists tell you." Profound, provocative and sure to spark a reaction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781467972277
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/23/2012
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 263,997
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2012

    Ever since H.G.Wells wrote When the Sleeper Wakes, dystopian soc

    Ever since H.G.Wells wrote When the Sleeper Wakes, dystopian societies have been a favorite subject amongst authors and readers alike. Twentieth century's writers painted vivid pictures of multitude of such societies and they let our imagination run wild.

    After Battle Royale of Koushun Takami in 1999, the standard of dystopian literature took a deep plunge. With the release of the The Hunger Games trilogy, the quality of such works reached an all time low. The success of such books also make us wonder whether we are going through 'The Twilight' of dystopian fiction.

    The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter is a fresh relief. The plot is simple, and it takes us through the monotonous life of Charles Thatcher, an employee of a corporate giant, which controls almost every business. Every aspect of life is measured in 'caps' (or money), which warns us of a near future when clean water and air will be charged. Charles meets a woman, and she helps him to see through the corruption and greed, and makes him think of a free life. The culmination of the events is quite unexpected, and also difficult to guess. I would say that it was quite a cliffhanger.

    But the distinctive aspect of this book is the themes of business, corruption, greed, freedom and human life, which is explained quite in detail by the author. It can get quite complicated at sometimes, and I had to turn back the pages and read again. But this aspect of the book is what makes it stand out amongst such similar works.

    Like I said before, the ending is quite unexpected. After watching Inception, I left the theatre with a heavy heart, trying to guess whether it was all a dream or reality. Similarly, when I reached the last page in my Kindle, I swiped it many times trying to find whether I had missed any pages. It's quite an ending, and I had a go for a short drive around the city to calm my mind.

    To sum up, this is one of the best dystopian novel I have ever read. If you are fan of Battle Royale, The Running Man, I am Legend (movie), 28 Days Later (movie), this is a must read. If you are one of the 'those' fans of The Hunger Games, then read this book to understand what is really meant by a dystopian work of fiction. If Hunger Games is Twilight, then The Water Thief is Dracula.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2012

    As one harbinger dies, another rises to take his place

    It seems fitting that Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and the mid-twentieth-century prophet of today’s world, should have died this week. For those of us who ever doubted the veracity of his predictions, let us take a good look around, at a society that has grown increasingly alienated by endless reality shows on flat-screen TV’s, a constant feed of iPod music through our ear buds, and subsequent self-medication through junk food and recreation drugs. Whether you like today’s world or not, Bradbury saw it coming sixty years ago.

    This is all by way of a preface to the rise of a new harbinger of what awaits us in the not-too-distant future. Nicholas Lamar Soutter’s book The Water Thief depicts a world where Gordon Gekko’s dream has come true: a neo-feudal world where deregulation has empowered big business, where small government has devolved into no government, and serf-citizens are held in bondage for life to the corporations. It is a world where nothing comes for free, not education nor the exchange of ideas, not waternor air. A dystopian novel this certainly is, but you couldn’t call it science fiction, simply because its premise is already rooted in the here and now, and the signs of what we can expect in years to come are already clearly marked.

    The protagonist Charles Thatcher is immediately likeable because he represents so many of us. He’s a small cog spinning in a large, complex wheel. He’s decent. He’s disillusioned. We can relate to his confusion, his sense that there is something terribly wrong, if only he could figure out what it is. That is the insidious nature of The System: it creeps up on an unsuspecting society that is preoccupied with earning a living, paying off its student debt and trying to save for retirement before the age of eighty-five. Before we know where we are, we find ourselves in thrall to overlords of corruption and greed. For the sop of an increasingly elusive American Dream we are now working longer hours for less pay, poorer benefits, and an uncertain retirement. We are traveling greater distances to a workplace with no job security, and what one parent was able to provide financially back in the seventies now requires the efforts of two. Our credit card debt is mountainous; our mortgages are under water. And we call this progress? Who’s actually winning here? (Hint: a very, very small percentage of people who are still trying to convince us of the benefits of the trickle-down effect.)

    This is the world we live in today. The Water Thief takes that world to its logical conclusion in a setting of Orwellian ruthlessness and paranoia. In a smart, thought-provoking, and compelling story Soutter sets forth his vision through the characters of Charlie and Kate as they recognize the humanity in one another amid the scavangers, and through Linus whose perspective from the top of the food chain makes the philosophy of objectivism appear almost sentimental by comparison. The poster child of Ayn Rand turned rogue.

    Writers don’t just write, they hold up a looking-glass through which we see ourselves and who we may become. Often their predictions are chillingly accurate. George Orwell showed us a reflection of ourselves; so, too, did Ray Bradbury. In his passing he leaves the mirror in the capable hands of Nicholas Lamar Soutter, if only the world can turn away from its headlong descent into madness and takes a good, hard look at itself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    3.5 stars Did I enjoy this book: What can I say? I¿m a sucker

    3.5 stars

    Did I enjoy this book: What can I say? I’m a sucker for Dystopia. I chuckled at the Easter Eggs in the first few pages (though now I’ve got an undeniable urge to dig out my copy of Lord of the Flies), and once things progressed far enough that libraries started to be named after railroad lines I was hooked.

    The Water Thief is thought provoking and extreme, and though at times it felt a bit preachy, I didn’t mind too much.

    Would I recommend it: If you’re a fan of dystopian novels (especially if you’re fostering a secret hatred of capitalism), you’ll love it. Literature professors ought to add it to their syllabi, because I bet I’m not the only one nerdtastically awaiting the Rand versus Soutter theses.

    Will I read it again: If I can afford it.

    As reviewed by Melissa at Every Free Chance Book Reviews.

    (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    A chilling tale of what awaits us if we do not act to stop it.

    A chilling tale of what awaits us if we do not act to stop it.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    In a futuristic society where one is ruled by Corporations, ever

    In a futuristic society where one is ruled by Corporations, everything costs caps, even rainwater and air.

    Sarah Aisling, who once was very well off but decided that was no life, stole rainwater and was arrested for her crime. Charles Thatcher decided this was something to write about, as that was his job at Ackerman Brothers Securities, finding topics for stories and getting paid for it.

    The more he thought about it, the more it intrigued him. He began to dig deeper into her past. When he could not locate her, he found her best friend Kate. Charles and Kate became friends and she showed him the other side, where those less fortunate found a way to survive.

    Ackerman Brothers did not like what Charles was doing. His colleagues became concerned about him and his doings. You will have to read for yourself to see which side wins out, if any at all.

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  • Posted June 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is not a fun easy beach read but if I had my way, it would

    This is not a fun easy beach read but if I had my way, it would be on every high school required reading list. A futuristic, dystopian society, where all is valued according to its value, real or perceived to the corporation, The Water Thief carries within it the warning of the seeds that we Americans are sowing for our future generations. This is fiction that could easily become reality if we, the individuals, do not make the effort to change the seeds being sown. In its own way, it carries the same type of terrible truth that George Orwell foresaw in the classic 1984. Read this book and then think about it - deeply, frequently and with your mind and eyes wide open. Consider the economic crisis of the past several years where we have had to bail out corporations who had made many, many terrifying deals, only on paper that left people without homes, transportation or employment. The corporate executives were all fine and lost very little, but the poor, undereducated, stupid people got the devastating losses they deserved. Read this book and weep or read this book and change.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    Just How Much Does Large Corporations Control Our Lives

    The Water Thief By Nicholas Lamar Soutter is a book that comes with a message. Each reader will gain something different from this book. The author uses fictional characters to show just how much control or hold large corporations have on the lives of the citizens of the country. The story-line is filled with stories that can be very persuasive to the readers mind.

    I was not sure what to expect from this book. The back of the book did not really give me a clue as to the real storyline of the book. The back of the book did not show the genre of the book, I was again confused. Then I read the "Thanks" page in the book. It stated ". . . I'm reasonably sure that the only people who are going to read it are those mentioned in it anyway. . . . " I thought to myself "If the author has no more confidence in himself than that, then I am not really sure I want to read this book. So I put it on the bottom of my "to read books". I kept putting it on the bottom so many times that I was ashamed of myself. I finally decided that I had committed to read this book and my word was good, so I had to read it.

    I am glad I did read "The Water Thief". The first chapter was a bit morbid but essential to the story. It talked of using the body fat of people to make soap. That brought back memories from history to my mind. It spoke of owing the company store and that brought back memories of stories told by ancestors. Now my interest had heightened. I was now into the storyline. I continued reading until I finished it. I am glad I did. I found "The Water Thief" a fast paced interesting story which deals with real life problems and possibilities of what could happen to this country if corporations continue to have a such a strong hold on the people.

    The author gave me a lot to think about and I will follow the progress of this author as he writes future books.

    After reading the book, I re-read the back and it all made sense.

    I give this book a 4 star. The reason for my rating is due in part to the message in the front of the book. It does not motivate the reader to dive into the book. The genre listed on the back would help a lot. Once I started reading the book, I found it most interesting. I felt the fear of the characters as they were fighting for their lives.

    I rate the story-line itself a 5 star. It held my interst and made my mind wander to the near future. I had to wonder if this was our future in America.

    I do recommend this book to adults who enjoys reading a book with a message. It will bring lots of memories to the readers mind. Not all memories will be good but it has a valuable lesson in it.

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