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Article  •  13 May 2016


Watershed moments

Enter Watershed: Jane Abbott’s savage and apocalyptic vision of the future.

In this dark and compelling first novel, it is impossible to know who is friend or foe, hero or villain. Devoid of rain, the earth has shrunk to dust and salt, hemmed by a swollen sea. Survivors gather to re-establish order but it’s nothing like before.

It is Jeremiah’s world.

Excerpts of letters from Jeremiah’s grandmother are strewn throughout the novel, revealing details of the slide into this dystopian world. Here’s a selection of these snippets, just to set the mood…



There are so many stories, so many different versions of what happened, but I can tell you only what I know. Civilisation died by degrees. When the sea rose, it exceeded even the wildest predictions; what followed didn’t. It was as simple as that.


I’ve watched men die, who deserved to live, and men walk free, who should be dead. I’ve seen cruel things happen to kind people, and bad things done to good. And this is what I’ve learned: it wasn’t the meek who inherited the earth.


I suppose the big question is this: if our technology was advanced enough for us to explore deep space and cure the incurable, why couldn’t we just make more fresh water when we needed it? The answer is simple: because it was never ours to make. Perhaps there are some secrets only nature can know. I once read that the total volume of water in the world is constant; whatever its form (ice, water or cloud), wherever it is (land, sea or air), we can’t create it and we can’t make it disappear. All we can do is borrow and return, do what the Earth does and recycle, over and over. And after we’re gone, passed into a forgotten history, the water will remain.


If I think of all the great women of history (queens and presidents, scientists, poets, writers and musicians, women who fought alongside their partners and mothers who died to protect their children), I’m astounded that we were ever considered the weaker sex. Women aren’t weak. That’s just a fantasy, dreamed by men who’d have us believe it. Don’t ever be one of those men, Jeremiah.


Watershed Jane Abbott

Savage and apocalyptic, this is the new world.

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