I found Joe Hill’s collection of four novellas rather depressing, and I’m not sure I would have chosen to read them right now if I’d have known that. I’ve been spending time lately curating my social media in a way that I’m not exposed to so much anger and despair, and Loaded was exactly the kind of thing I’ve been trying to avoid.
Loaded is the second story, exploring a side of modern America we hear too much of in the news; gun violence and racism. Recent events have left people asking, would it have been better or worse for more people to have guns during a mass shooting. This explores what happens when a civilian with a gun reacts to a shooting in a mall.
All it took to turn a CD into a knife or a tape gun into a .45 was a little imagination, a little panic, and a lot of prejudice.
For most the story it was an argument for stricter gun control, however the final sentence threw me off a bit. It is definitely one that can lead to further discussion. However, when it comes to stories where children are murdered, I need more compassion in the writing. I couldn’t really cope with the kind of men who think it’s OK to go round shooting people.
The first story was depressing in a different way. Snapshot is a bit more supernatural in nature, but is essentially about the effects of Alzheimer’s, a disease I find distressing to read about. It’s told from the perspective of a kid in 1980’s Silicon Valley. The Phoenician has a Polaroid camera which steals memories and he’s been targeting the protagonist’s old babysitter. Of course, most people assume her memory loss is down to natural causes.
It’s also a story about growing up, when you start to look at adults in a different way and appreciate what they did for you. And it’s all the more heart-breaking when you realise that too late to let them know.
Maturity is not something that happens all at once. It is not a border between two countries where once you cross the invisible line, you are on the new soil of adulthood, speaking the foreign tongue of grownups.
Aloft tells the story of Aubrey, who lands on a mysterious cloud when a skydiving attempt goes wrong. It was also about the loneliness of unrequited love and letting go. I didn’t find Aubrey that likeable due to his possessiveness over his female friend, but the direction the story took made it a more worthwhile read.
I think Rain would probably have been my favourite of the stories had I been more in the mood. However, it’s still not exactly cheery and I was craving some positivity by this point. One day instead of water, the rain falls as crystals, taking out thousands. The president, although not named, is clearly Trump and reacts to this as one would expect.
Fulgurite had formed in clouds before. It happened whenever volcanoes blew. Lightning would flash-cook flakes of ask into fangs of crystal.
The story follows a woman who loses her girlfriend to the first rainfall. As she deals with personal loss she interacts with other survivors, some end of the world cultists, and others just plain prejudiced.
The stories are connected by the strange weather of the title but it’s only in the final story where the weather feels like a crucial part. They are all quite topical and I’m sure this collection will be a hit with many readers.
Strange Weather is published by Gollancz and is available now in ebook with a hardback release on 7th November 2017. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
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