September 08, 2006

Mother of Storms

One of recent finalists for the prestigious Hugo Award is called "Mother of Storms". As is often sadly the case with science fiction, the premise here has a lot of promise, but the book doesn't live up to it.

This is set in 2028, some years after a "minor" nuclear war has devastated the United States and given much more political power to the United Nations, which effectively governs the world and tells every country what to do. It even pre-emptively enforces arms control treaties with tactical nuclear strikes, when necessary.

One of these nukes melts a big bunch of frozen methane in the Arctic, and as a result (since methane is a greenhouse gas), temperatures during the coming summer rise 10 or 20 degrees above normal. This is enough to greatly warm the water and expand the potential zones for hurricane formation and strengthening. The result is a summer full of massive hurricanes which devastate pretty much everything on the planet under about 1000 feet above sea level.

To stop the warming, a couple of different plans are hatched to try to "shade" the Earth, one of them involving an astronaut linking up with a system of robots and essentially becoming incredibly mentally enhanced. At the same time, another character gets network privileges to a complex data network on Earth and also does the same thing, becoming a virtual god.

While that's going on, the book follows a woman who is the world's most famous porn star on a deeply interactive/immersive broadcast system and her new boyfriend, who is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of a granola environmentalist woman. Meanwhile, a relentless, distraught father is trying to avenge the brutal rape and murder of his teenage daughter 10 years ago, following a path that will eventually lead him to the highest levels of government.

And this was in the running for a Hugo?

Oh well, way too long and not really my cup of tea. I only read it because I thought a good weather sci-fi book would be right up 17-year-old weather-obsessed J*stin's alley. Unfortunately, it was neither good nor appropriate for a kid. The most redeeming subplot involved the super-intelligent virtual people, and there were some good crunchy weather passages. With just that and a little more, this would've made a really good short book, like what used to be published back in the 50's and 60's.

Posted by Observer at September 8, 2006 06:02 PM

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