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A Diary in the Age of Water

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Centuries from now, in a post-climate change dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past—to the Age of Water, when the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity in hatred—events that have plagued her nightly in dreams. Looking for answers to this holocaust—and disturbed by her macabre longing for connection to the Water Twins—Kyo is led to the diary of a limnologist from the time just prior to the destruction. This gritty memoir describes a near-future Toronto in the grips of severe water scarcity during a time when China owns the USA and the USA owns Canada. The diary spans a twenty-year period in the mid-twenty-first century of 33-year-old Lynna, a single mother who works in Toronto for CanadaCorp, an international utility that controls everything about water, and who witnesses disturbing events that she doesn’t realize will soon lead to humanity’s demise. 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. The novel explores identity and our concept of what is “normal”—as a nation and an individual—in a world that is rapidly and incomprehensibly changing. (Inanna Publications)

300 pages

Published June 15, 2020

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About the author

Nina Munteanu

46 books88 followers
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist and SF, fantasy and eco-fiction writer. She has published eight novels and a dozen award-winning short stories translated into several languages. Her novels are mostly eco-fiction and thrillers that explore humanity's tense co-evolution with technology and Nature.

Nina is also editor of several publishing houses and ezines. She teaches writing at the University of Toronto and George Brown College. Her three textbooks "The Fiction Writer", "The Journal Writer" and "The Ecology of Story" are used in colleges, universities, and writing institutions throughout the world. Her latest non-fiction book "Water Is..." explores the many identities of water (www.TheMeaningOfWater.com). Find more on Nina and her work at www.ninamunteanu.ca.

The books that appear on my bookshelf are all books I recommend. You will not find a book on my shelf or a book review from me that is not a recommended book; if I don't like it, it won't be here.

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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Daniel.
645 reviews27 followers
February 26, 2021
It’s a strange time we are living in. One moment we are scorched by a hot sun with no water below or above us; another moment, the receding lake lashes out like an angry child with five-metre high waves against our dilapidated shoreline, or a dry river swells into a churning torrent that forces its way into our homes … We’re going down in a kind of slow violence. (p. 134)

The majority of Nina Munteanu’s new novel speculates about the continuation of climate change’s slow violence on the Earth, and explores its effects on one family through three generations of women. Structured as a diary written by a Canadian limnologist (freshwater biologist) named Lynna, the novel reveals the gradually developing ecological and societal catastrophes that occur between 2045 and 2066, moving the Anthropocene into a new geological era. Alongside Lynna’s recording of current events, she recalls memories of her childhood, and of her mother Una, when the growing indications of climate change became undeniable, yet somehow were still controversial. As Lynna bears witness to society falling apart amid the water scarcity and conflict that Una once predicted, she struggles to secure a safe future for her own daughter, Hilde.

Complete review available on Strange Horizons

Here I'll just add that I love this book, so much to think about and discuss with it, from the science to the spirituality, to its rich literary qualities. Perfect for a book club, I hope to use it for class in the future.
Profile Image for Tina.
723 reviews41 followers
May 18, 2021
“How do you ensure your child’s future when you ignore the future of the entire planet?”

An extremely detailed and downright terrifying look into the future of our planet, A Diary in the Age of Water will appeal to lovers of eco-fiction and hard speculative fiction.

While engrossing, the book reads more as a warning regarding our planet than a novel. Each chapter begins with a glossary-type explanation of a water science or climate-related word, which has relevance in the entry following it. This was both interesting and helpful, especially if you’re someone like me who doesn’t know a lot about this type of science.

This novel made my heart clench. The plausibility of the scenarios surrounding the sale of Canadian freshwater to the United States and China, water restrictions for civilians, increasing global warming environmental disasters, and the loss of endangered species was harrowing to read. As someone who cares deeply for the environment and has taken active steps to reduce her carbon footprint (and signs tons of petitions to prevent the lessening of environmental protections by my government), this book made me even more worried. Hot take: watering your lawn should be banned. It’s a supreme waste of water.

It’s clear Munteanu has a deep understanding of the science behind the novel and I learned a lot while reading it. I made tons of notes!

In terms of a novel though, there isn’t much of a plot or character development. Lynna doesn’t really change as the novel progresses and while the parts with Kyo served to encircle the story, I found they were almost unnecessary. Lynna also isn’t very likeable and there are some repetitions in terms of Lynna’s worries over her daughter. Epistolary novels are also a hard sell for me because I have trouble believing Lynna recalled a conversation with a person from over nine years ago. Yet, the novel is more about how we’re screwing ourselves over in real life than Lynna and Hilde’s personal issues.

That being said, it’s engrossing and fascinating and heart-wrenching. I recommend it to people who love eco-fiction, but also speculative fiction.
Profile Image for BooksCoffee.
902 reviews
March 30, 2021
Munteanu's brilliant dystopian takes readers to a devastating future, where climate change has ravaged the planet, and water is severely rationed.

When Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a limnologist’s diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past, she has no idea her life was going to change forever.

Munteanu’s assured, intelligent prose brings out the gloomy devastation of the setting, and she is brilliant when it comes to evoking her characters’ body as well as soul. Adeptly infusing a vast amount of climate change information into the otherwise affecting tale of shifting family dynamics, friendship, love, and individual struggles, Munteanu builds to a climatic series of revelations that will heighten readers’ fervor for the possible next installment.

The novel offers a thought-provoking indictment that will urge readers to examine the more devastating possibilities of climate change.

This winning tale is sure to wow the morally serious fans of science fiction.
Profile Image for Mandy Eve-Barnett.
Author 11 books87 followers
November 9, 2020
Exceptionally written novel that not only informs but supposes our future, in particular our use of the planet's water. Nina has used a clever device, a diary, of a future water collapse to highlight our short sightedness as a inhabitant creature of Earth.
Humans are essentially the planet's virus, killing it's host and therefore ourselves.
This novel should be recommended reading for all.
July 26, 2020
Stephen King couldn’t write a scarier novel than this.
With “A Diary in the Age of Water” Nina Munteanu gives us a shiver fest as if applying electro-shock therapy to our souls. With Stephen King’s novels you can put the book down and breath a sigh of relief, but Munteanu pushes our faces into our own monstrous folly and won’t let us up. Like one of the ghosts in Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol,” Munteanu wields our past and present as a whip to force us to view our final, bleak future. But didn’t Scrooge have a choice? Yes, and he took the right course, although he needed a lot of courage and self-examination. But that was fiction; reality is a tougher sell. “A Diary” is also fiction, but it’s a blended treatise of what is and what might be. That’s a scary thing because our own actions are propelling us toward a cliff, driven by industry, government, apathy, and above all the greed that is causing the world to shrivel and dry up.
Yes, that’s right, as you read this the world is shrivelling up and Munteanu, a well-respected water scientist, (or limnologist), and sci-fi writer, is showing us how that’s happening in excruciating detail, from small to large catastrophes. Through a narrative that is primarily one woman’s diary from our near future, Munteanu chronicles how our rape and pollution of the environment is killing us off, along with the planet, at an ever-escalating pace. The detail of the consequences, step by step, is one of Munteanu’s strengths, and one of the enthralling aspects of the story.
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 as well as starting each chapter with technical paragraphs on water. But these momentary detours are worth reading because the knowledge imparted here gives the reader a framework to understand why the future is happening the way it is. In a recent interview Munteanu related that although she made one whimsical joke at the expense of history—about Donald Trump—all the startling assaults on the world’s water and environment she depicts from before 2020, are true. Which seems impossible—how could we have done this? But at least we know we did it.
Water is an amazing substance, as described by Munteanu, who uses water’s magical qualities to create a story that involves the mutation of mankind and an angry Gaia—or Mother Earth. Ultimately, we create a new subspecies of blue, four-armed women, with a mysterious connection to water. One of these is a woman named Kyo, who knows little about herself and her destiny, and must learn as much as she can through one of her ancestor’s diaries. Hence the story and journey we take along with her.
“A Diary” is a brilliant story, whether you dwell on the scientific information or not. Munteanu gives us creative extrapolation at its best and most impressive. Using characters with unique voices, Munteanu writes with fresh, stimulating style, and she takes us through these characters’ minds with a rich flow of metaphor and insight. The character of Kyo is the most unusual and I would have liked to have seen more of her and her destiny. The ultimate end of mankind, entwined with Kyo’s destiny, has a dreamlike quality that might have been expanded. But perhaps we can see more of that in a sequel, which this novel deserves.
In any case, in a world where science is largely ignored by politicians, a book like “A Diary in the Age of Water” is an important flag to wave in defense of the planet. We do have a small chance to stop the worst effects of our own folly. After all, the Titanic didn’t have to sink. All they needed on that ship was one right decision, instead of many wrong ones.
Good luck, spaceship Earth!
1 review
September 2, 2021
Scientist and Author Nina Munteanu has brilliantly taken her scientific knowledge as a limnologist (study of inland aquatic systems) and combined it with current political events as they affect water issues. Munteanu predicts a dystopian future where climate change and the corporate exploitation of water devastates the human race. This prophetic story skillfully intertwines our current relationship with water with the fictional stories of four generations of women.

A Diary in the Age of Water challenges us to create a future different from the one Munteanu’s foretold: ‘you can choose the ending you prefer’ and ‘you are the new humanity.’ Underlying the novel is the theme of forgiveness to help us ‘take the guilt away’. Forgiveness ultimately shakes us from our malaise and allows us to move forward to create and advocate for a different future rather than accepting the current trend. Despite the heavy themes, the story is told in an entertaining yet compassionate manner. Through Kyo’s naïve and inquisitive nature, we search for truth and understanding. Through her mentor’s gentle wisdom, we are granted the gift of understanding. Through Hilde’s eyes, we are granted the gift of experiences to come. And water is a character, a life-force not to be taken for granted.

If for no other reason, this novel should be read to remind us about how essential water is to our survival and the consequences of our decisions on water use. It also reminds us that the power to act and create change lies within us and that is a much needed and powerful message.
Profile Image for Lyndi Allison.
Author 5 books23 followers
October 6, 2020
It took me a little while to settle into A Diary in the Age of Water, but once I did, I appreciated how the structure set up water as a character that flows through this engaging story.

In this story within a story, a young acolyte reads the diary of Lynna, a single mom, who chronicles the decline of drinking water, its exploitation, properties and value. Even though she begins well in trying to use her research to help, Lynna becomes increasingly paranoid as she hoards water and watches her daughter choose a friend and ideas that will bring trouble. And she regrets getting rid of the person she could turn to because he could expose her actions.

Each diary entry defines a word, many new to me, diagrams illustrate concepts, and many entries show Lynna’s connection to nature. The author speculates on how near future individuals, corporations, and governments will use weather and power to control our most basic human need.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Annis Pratt.
Author 13 books16 followers
October 14, 2020
What if you discovered that the United States and China were systematically draining your water (you are Canadian). In her chillingly possible sci-fi prediction, limnologist Nina Munteanu uses the dystopian technique of extrapolating from a deplorable present to prophesy a frightening future. A present day oligarchy of corporate CEOs, energy interests, and the very powerful, very rich 1% seize control of every watershed, every lake, every glacier. The chance of deploying our human traits of invention and ingenuity to rescue the planet is very slim; a newly evolved group of four-armed, blue-skinned women are our only hope. Munteanu’s novel provides an effectively dire prophesy about what is likely to happen to homo sapiens if we fail to stand on our feet and fight for our rights against corporate monsters.
1 review
September 19, 2020
A Diary in the Age of Water is a beautiful, and alarming tale of our world in the very near future. This apocalyptic tale is told through diary entries of a scientist, Lynna, who works for a utility company that controls all of Canada’s water–even rainwater. Resources are scarce for all but the wealthiest, and people are disposable.

Lynna is determined to provide for her child, but even she can’t predict how the choices she makes will impact her family, coworkers, and even the rest of humanity.

The use of diary entries provides much-needed intimacy in a stark world, and it is enhanced by the illustrations and definitions that are included in each chapter. A frame narrative is set further in the future, in the sacred remnants of Canada’s last forest grove, and it adds perspective and a few precious drops of hope. 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.
Profile Image for Claudiu Murgan.
Author 13 books5 followers
July 8, 2020
Nina Munteanu's A Diary in the Age of Water is a great literary work. It's a feast of limnology-related knowledge (don't be scared by the odd word) and a magnificent tribute to water in all her forms. Written as a diary, the novel exhibits Munteanu's mind elasticity in giving water a life of her own, while enhancing that we are water, we are all connected and it is our decision as a collective to make radical changes before we perish due to our own foolishness.It was an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Lee Hall.
Author 8 books162 followers
October 29, 2020
A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart.

This captivating book doesn't hold back in presenting readers with the potentially damning path humanity is going to take and how we might lose our most important resource; water. You'll find the subject of water flowing everywhere in a story that is sometimes heart wrenching but also wonderfully informing, it's metaphoric, symbolic and even a character.

Everything that surrounds the subject of water or limnology as it's technically defined has been woven into a wonderfully researched plethora of information and fiction. Fact and fiction merge flawlessly in this story that takes readers on a dramatic and eye opening voyage. Just what will this planet be like after our footprint has done all the damage it can do? Well that's how this story starts in what appears to be a far off time after this world has healed itself from us.

We are then taken back to how we got there and the years much closer to our present through the eyes of a Canadian woman who relays her years from childhood to retirement. From the inspiration and spirit of her mother all the way to her daughter growing up in a world of water rationing and stricter controls. This tale of motherhood is just part of a rich story all told through these diary entries which all begin with some wonderful definitions that relate to the ecology of water and the nature of our wider planet - there is information everywhere and all of it points towards us failing to preserve our most precious resource. It began to open my eyes and also pierce my heart that we seem to be wasting and slowly destroying this planet's eco systems that all provide us with life. The politics behind water are particularly on point in relating to today's leaders and corporations but it's not just empty statements or finger pointing to bad leaders. This book stands up and in the face of those who do not care for our ecological future, for that it's one of the most important books of a generation.

"it will slip through their fingers. That's what water does..."

There always seems to be a big time corporation pulling the strings for control and that's the same in this situation which as the diary moves forward in time so does the struggle. From mass droughts to the technological advances of weather control to even punishing those who collect rain water, this future is both a potential reality and also quite scary. History is being erased or adjusted to suit the less informed society who are ignorant to the struggle. It also maintains this story of a mother concerned for her daughter, a parental tale much like what is going on in the world and future, sometimes you have to just let the next generation go. Perhaps we are too busy trying to save ourselves when really we should be focused on the place we live.

"We're turning into migrants, condemned to wander the earth in search of a nirvana that doesn't exist, all because we didn't treasure the nirvana we had..."

Nina Munteanu has put together a story about the pitfalls of humanity while also being wonderfully informative and inspirational towards highlighting the importance of preserving our water and wider planet. It's beautifully original, modern and even patriotic in some senses which tells me the author proudly cares immensely about a story where there is so much more underneath the shimmering surface.

Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 29 books105 followers
October 10, 2020
The Review

The author has done a fantastic job of instilling both horror and hope into this narrative. The way the author weaves both post-apocalyptic and sci-fi elements into real-world threats to our environment, in particular water, made this a gripping novel that was impossible to put down.

Character development and imagery played huge roles in the story here, as the author wrote the narrative in a journalistic style that showcased four generations of women who had ties to water. Both the bond these women shared and their struggles in the face of environmental disasters made the story much more profound, especially when real-world facts about current political administrations and actions against the environment were included, making this fictional sci-fi world feel much more realistic.

The Verdict

A must-read sci-fi and post-apocalyptic read with an eco-twist, author Nina Munteanu’s “A Diary in the Age of Water” is a hit. The beautiful way the author relates these characters to the audience along with numerous facts both historically and scientifically that readers were treated to make the story come alive in a way most aren’t able to accomplish. 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. Be sure to grab your copy today!
3 reviews1 follower
September 17, 2020
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 heartwrenching. 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.
Profile Image for Madona Skaff.
4 reviews
December 23, 2020
Eco-fiction at its best!
The story of how climate change has made water a valuable commodity is told through the diary entries of Lynna, a scientist in the not too distant future. Each entry begins with a scientific explanation describing what our water systems are enduring. They are both interesting and terrifying when you realize some of the effects are already happening.
I especially loved reading about Lynna’s childhood as she travelled around Canada with her mother, learning about water. She also recounts her own daughter’s journey to adulthood, in a world where water is now severely rationed. In each generation, their unique views of water is intriguing and you can’t help but begin to think about water as a living, intelligent entity.
I love novels where I don’t guess the ending and this did not disappoint. All the loose ends are tied up in a very imaginative and unique way.
If you care about the environment. Love complex characters. Or enjoy a unique story. Then this is a must read.
Profile Image for Christine Hart.
Author 10 books173 followers
August 10, 2021
My latest cli-fi read was as challenging as it was important. Nina Munteanu's descriptive vision of a post-climate-apocalyptic world quickly morphed into an account - via a diary - of how that tragedy came about. What made the story challenging and important is that her vision of how the Earth begins to die rings so true that I had to take it in small doses. "A Diary in The Age of Water" produced the same uncomfortable feeling I get from listening to David Attenborough's documentaries about how our oceans and the natural world are dying. Stories like this make it all the harder to go back to listening to climate change deniers present their 'opinions' and 'viewpoints' as though they have some measure of validity. I highly recommend following the stories of Una, Lynna, Hilde, and Kyo through their struggles to save water, and by extension, our planet and humanity. And in the meantime, I'll continue to hope that this future never actually comes to pass.
October 11, 2020
Nina Munteanu’s “Dairy in the Age of Water” skillfully delivers a dire warning of what awaits us in the future given our current trajectory of disregard to the value of water. We are given a glimpse into the consequences of becoming disconnected from nature and our environment.

Weaving together our present, past and future with science, with the backdrop of societal issues in this fictional personal account creates a compelling story. In her own words, the story is “delivered like sparkling clear water”, leaving us to rethinking and revalue our relationship to water. “Dairy in the Age of Water”, delivers drama and suspense, with plot twists and turns calling us all to attention to saving water, in saving water we save ourselves.

1 review
July 13, 2020
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 story like water itself fills you, moves you, hypnotizes you, and eventually, totally engulfs you. It leaves you thirsting for the answers to many questions. How? When? Why? The science is real based on a classic text. 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!
December 13, 2020
This book is chillingly close to reality, especially in the chapters set in our near future. There were times when I was afraid to keep reading. As a fellow ecologist, this plot is absolutely believable, terrifyingly so. Through compelling storytelling, Nina weaves characters and timelines to deliver a powerful warning. And water, a character in and of itself, flows throughout the book. Powerful ecofiction!
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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