Friday, September 22, 2017

Weather Girl, by E.J. Swift

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(Military SF) Lia’s top-secret work uses hurricanes against America’s enemies by falsifying the weather and satellite records to fool enemies into thinking no storm is coming. (7,928 words; Time: 26m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Sophisticated and Heart-Wrenching

"Weather Girl," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The story interleaves Lia’s story, which is first about mounting the attack and then about saving Nicolas with Nicolas’s story, which is first about enjoying what’s left of Shanghai and then about survival. Her operation is a huge success—perhaps even saving tens of millions by preventing a way—and yet her victory is ashes.

In terms of tension, the storm itself generates plenty of it--in stereo.

The most touching aspect of the story comes from the bittersweet relationship between Lia and Nicolas. She misses him terribly, and even though she tries dating new people, she can’t let him go. For his part, he keeps sending her pictures from the places he visits—even though after three years she’s never replied. He knows he hurt her when he divorced her, and that still haunts him.

In other words, despite their separation, we know that the two are still in love with each other.

As a result, Lia’s increasingly desperate efforts to do something to help Nicolas are crushing. She’s breaking her own rules and yet doing it in vain. All she ultimately accomplishes is letting Nicolas know what her real job always was—which lets him know that it is she who is killing him. It’s almost as though once he learned that, he lost his will to live and simply lay down to die. The message meant to save him had the opposite effect.

At the start, we learned that Lia sometimes saw spirals (i.e. cyclones) before sleep, but that she never dreamed. By the end, the cyclones haunt her every night, and her dreams are filled with Nicolas as a stand-in for the millions she has hurt.

Con: It’s hard to believe that a cyberhack that lead to trillions in damage and tens of thousands of casualties wouldn’t lead directly to war. And if it's not a war crime, I don't know what is.

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