After racking up awards — Nebula and Hugo honors for Best Novel — for his debut book, The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi followed up with Ship Breaker, set in an equally dismal, dystopian future, and won another round of awards, including a National Book Award nomination and a Printz Award for Best Young Adult Novel. The latest from the Paonia-based writer, The Drowned Cities, hit bookshelves last May. It was originally supposed to be a direct sequel to Ship Breaker, following its lead character, Nailer, but instead turned into a "companion" to that book. "I started really thinking about what it was that was important to me to be writing about," he told us last spring. "There was a single line from the original draft of that book that still resonated with me: Nailer and his compatriots had been sailing past this wrecked place of perpetual war called the Drowned Cities, and Nailer asks, 'How did the Drowned Cities get this way?' The captain of the ship says something like, 'A nation as strong as this one doesn't just fall apart. It has to be deliberately destroyed.... The demagogues just whipped up the people and the people bit on their own tails, and they chewed and they chewed until there was nothing left but the snapping of teeth.'" Bacigalupi bit off plenty with this book, but he delivered.