Book review: “Weather War” by Leonard Leokum and Paul Posnick

On a bit of a weather/climate-disaster novels kick at the moment (“The Sixth Winter” by Orgill and Gribbin). The Weather War is one I bought a while back and it just sat on the shelf.

In short – it’s fun, but nothing you need to struggle to find and read, ‘less you’re as strange as me. It’s part of that late 70s wave of books (see also “Icequake” by Crawford Kilian, Heat by Arthur Herzog, Sigment Active by Thomas Page etc etc) when the fluctuations of the weather in the early-mid 70s got novelists thinking.

Weather War is an odd thing – there’s a series of vignettes, especially at the beginning, where we are introduced to characters only to see them die in various gruesome/grand guignol weather disasters. Then we meet the central character, Forest Hill, a meteorologist and TV weatherman. (The vignettes, gradually more pornographic, continue intermittently through the rest of the novel).

Hill is an engaging creation. He has been tracking weather anomalies and is convinced – well, he goes and sees someone in the Pentagon –

“No, ,General, but I do expect the laws of nature to remain constant so (sic) some degree. When they aren’t, again and again, I have to suspect that something’s wrong. And that worries me.” Forest looked at the General and saw that there was no other way but to blurt it out.
“General, I think our weather has been thrown out of kilter. I think the whole system is in danger and these are just symptoms of what’s to come.” He looked the general straight in the eyes. “And I think that the military experiments on weather are the cause of it” (p..85).

The Greenhouse effect gets one passing reference (p. 87), carbon dioxide never.

The novel is a kind of low-rent mash-up of The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor (Six Days, if you’re reading the novel) and Network. It’s fine as far as it goes – the central action sequence of a dam bursting and Forest barely surviving the ensuing flood is nicely done – with a satisfying ending, but not one for the casual reader, and the female characters are … well, it was the 70s….

Oh, pace the cover, nobody zaps the World Trade Centres with lightning….

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