Heavy Weather (Sterling novel)

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Heavy Weather
Author Bruce Sterling
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Spectra
Publication date
September 1994
Media type Print (hardback)
ISBN 0-553-09393-2
OCLC 30075317
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3569.T3876 H4 1994

Heavy Weather is a science fiction novel by Bruce Sterling, first published in 1994, about a group of storm chasers in a world where global warming has produced incredibly destructive weather.

Plot summary[edit]

Set in the year 2031, Heavy Weather depicts a world where mankind has unbalanced the world's ecosystem with their continuing production of greenhouse gases and unchecked expansion. As a result, the weather has become unpredictable and dangerous. Powerful storms routinely leave trails of devastation in their wake. Alex Unger, a young man suffering from numerous medical problems, is liberated from an illegal Mexican clinic by his sister Janey and brought back to America to her group of friends and colleagues, the Storm Troupe. The Troupe are dedicated and knowledgeable storm chasers who use high technology to document and research the weather, led by Janey's lover, the charismatic and brilliant scientist Jerry Mulcahey. They are preparing to meet an F-6, a storm of truly monstrous proportions.

The novel deals with scenarios directly extrapolated from emergent issues relevant to the time frame of its creation, such as antibiotic resistant disease,[1] climate change,[2] and social collapse due to monetary disintegration[3] among others.

Technical originality[edit]

The novel describes a number of specific technologies in a degree of detail, partly imagined and partly extrapolated. Some of them appear to be original contributions.

Several of these anticipated developments in drones 15–20 years later. His 'ornithopters' are "hollow-boned winged flying drones with clever foamed-metal joints and a hide of individual black plastic 'feathers' ... [and] binocular videocams at the width of human eyes ... [that also] measure temperature, humidity, and wind-speed" (pp. 72–73, 88 of the Phoenix edition).

The remote pilot's controls comprise "goggles, headphones, his laptop, and a pair of ribbed data gloves ... [enabling] aerial telepresence" (p. 75), and their use was described as "... gently flapping his fingertips ... groping at empty air like a demented conjurer" (p. 82).

He described the general experience of "somatic disturbance, 'cause there's no body sensation to go with the movement ... disorienting" (p. 78). Sterling took this further, however, by depicting the effect of multiple feeds: "He was hearing in stereo. His ears were ten kilometers apart [resulting in a] rippling, existential spasm of virch-sickness" (p. 81).


  1. ^ U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Impacts of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, OTA-H-629 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 1995)
  2. ^ Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). 1995. Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling of Climate Change [online]. University Center, Mich. CIESIN URL: http://sedac.ciesin.org/mva/iamcc.tg/TGHP.html
  3. ^ Glyn, Andrew (1995) : Social democracy and full employment, Discussion paper // Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Forschungsschwerpunkt Arbeitsmarkt und Beschäftigung, Abteilung Wirtschaftswandel und Beschäftigung, No. FS I 95-302, http://hdl.handle.net/10419/44095