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Heavy Weather Paperback – July 3, 1995

3.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Why hack computers when you can hack nature? Sterling's Storm Troupe lives in a post-greenhouse world ravaged by monster storms and finds itself hacking the ultimate storm: the F-6 tornado. No one in the Troupe, not even it's brilliant, driven leader, guesses the real nature of the F-6 or the shadowy forces unleashed in its twisting fury. Not until it is too late... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Cyberpunk prophet Sterling, whose last book was a nonfiction exploration of computer hackers and the law (The Hacker Crackdown), returns to SF with a near-future thriller. In 2031, the world suffers from "heavy weather"-tornadoes and typhoons caused by a runaway greenhouse effect. While most people wisely try to avoid the storms, one group of counterculture techno-enthusiasts calling themselves the Storm Troupe chases them through the badlands of Texas and Oklahoma. Led by the visionary scientist Jerry Mulcahey, the Troupe studies the storms with an array of high-tech equipment, trying to document what Mulcahey believes is coming soon-a superstorm, the "F-6," a tornado far more powerful than any ever seen and which might even prove unstoppable, a perpetual violent disturbance ravaging the landscape. When Mulcahey's lover, Juanita ("Jane") Unger, drags her brother Alex (who suffers from some strange disease as well as an irritating anomie) from an illegal Mexican clinic back to the Troupe's camp, tensions are ignited among the Troupers. But those plot threads are abruptly dropped when the F-6 hits, and the Troupe pulls together to fight the elements. Some similarities between this book and Sterling's previous fiction are evident: the Troupe uses the word "hack" as computer users do, saying they "hack" heavy weather, and they've got a similar case of technophilia, but it lacks the scope and the big, innovative ideas that gave novels like Islands in the Net their power. This one has some sharp moments and intriguing characters, but it never offers that exciting sense of vision.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (July 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857992997
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857992991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,908,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Sterling is one of the few current cyberpunk/scifi writers who seems to work with real characters rather than new ideas. Despite an occasionally messy plot point, this book delivers some of the most interesting speculative fiction around. The German-Mexican brother sister pair-- Jane and Alex-- are full and complex people and rather than simply acting out some kind of mythic archetype they move in this futurescape the way you'd expect real people to move. The sense of scene is also rich and full, with the cultural details full of verisimilitude. Perhaps not my favorite Sterling, but still a great read.
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Format: Paperback
Heavy Weather is not a bad book, but it is not one of my favorite novels. While the plot can be slow at times and is a little predictable, the concept is interesting and the book is very easy to read. If you have a short attention span, I suggest that you do not read this book. The story has a very large lull in the middle. Another downfall is that the F6 tornado is extremely over-hyped. Sterling could have done much more with it, but didn't. The plot and characters are developed well, however, and the story itself is refreshingly different.
Heavy Weather is much like one of Sterling's other works, Holy Fire. The writing styles of both books are very similar. Both books deal with medical technology. The theme of whether or not medicine can be too high tech seems to run through both books. Some characters even seem like they could fit in with the characters in Holy Fire. In both books, Sterling focuses on the people in his story, rather than the technology itself. He writes more about how technology affects people.
The main characters, Jane and Alex, are two siblings that were never very close to each other. Fulfilling her role as the big sister, Jane saves Alex from a life of black market medical treatments, and takes him to experience her lifestyle. Jane lives with the Storm Troupe, a group of people that hack weather. The Troupe chases tornadoes gathering all the information they can get, in hopes that they will figure out the secrets behind one of Mother Nature's mysteries. Their mission is centered on a hypothesized F6 sized tornado, their Holy Grail.
One attraction to this book is how different it is from other cyberpunk novels.
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By A Customer on December 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Bruce Sterling took the familar sub-genre of Cyberpunk and carried it to new terrain, literally. The story takes place primarily in West Texas and up Tornado Alley, with a smattering of Mexico for the really dark side of living. Most of Cyberpunk takes place on the West Coast or Asia. The setting changes the whole ambience of the book. Instead of the slick, fast, all mirror feel of typical cyberpunk fare, we have a more paced and linguistically clever piece of writing.
Sterling does go a little overboard with the F-6; the anticipation is built up so much that when he finally describes it, the disappointment is palpable. Words simply fail to capture the idea of such a colossal event.
However, this book is about people, and how they are dealing with a world in climatic catastrophe. Consequently, the characters are rich and the dialogue is textured. The characters are not ginger-bread people, each is noticeably different from one another. Many very clever lines from this book and some astute insights as to the nature of modern American thought.
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Format: Paperback
Weather challenged everyone before the 20th century: if you lived in Kansas, how did you know what weather was coming toward you over the plains? Naturalists developed anemometers, wind vanes, barometers, rain gauges, and thermometers to collect measurements over time of the weather at particular locations. In the early 19th century, statisticians sought to interpolate among enormous numbers of measurements of wind speed and direction, humidity, temperature, barometric pressure, and rainfall to figure out what the atmosphere plans for us in terms of weather. Only when we distributed accurate clocks along railroad routes could meteorologists integrate this data into weather maps that showed the development and decay of weather systems over time and geographic space. In the 20th century, with aircraft, more complex statistics, and computers, we developed measurements and models of weather systems in 3-dimensions. (See, for example, James Fleming's Meteorology in America.)

The protagonists of Heavy Weather use nothing as handy as a thermometer, but rather a combination of modern and futurist tools, most of which require developing a personal knack to master. In addition to supplying a story, the extreme weather of the southern plains also serves as a metaphor for stormy relationships and the battle that one protagonist, Alex, wages with his own body, whose mysterious debility has seemed to control his life's purpose until he chooses to focus on helping his sister's troupe of roving weather hackers to understand the region. Medicine employs instruments much like those used to measure weather, but that reduce Alex's body to a mapped system that then does not respond to therapies as doctors project.
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