Due to the Coronavirus Lockdown, I started looking for good books that will make my increasing boredom die down. I loved The FIREMAN * Joe Hill and Joe Hill * Horns so I did a quick eBay search to see if Joe Hill has written anything else since and I got super thrilled to see “Strange Weather” pop up.
4 short stories which have one thing in common – a dark cloud circling above bringing news of death and destruction.
“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap. The camera is smartly called “Solaroid” and after the bad guy is turned into a mindless wisp of a man, the teenager keeps the camera. He runs over it with his car and finds out that it’s empty with the exception of some black goo which hardens into an alien alloy and an eye which was staring creepily at him. Stuff of nightmares,no? Except the story has a happy ending as the slightly overweight boy goes to MIT and becomes a renowned engineer with a wife and two kids and his inventions are bought by Apple for their “alien” board designs . I had to laugh when the author referred to the company as the “crispy fruit logo company”.
In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning. This story has a lot of very interesting elements about it. Gun control, mental issues, abuse of power from people in uniforms, the desire for the Police to have at least a hero on their side and the quick shunning when his past becomes apparent. There is a spotlight on media and the important of truth in today’s age while also showing the hush approach when dealing with abusive cops. Loved it! And the ending was a proper blood bath.
The third story, Aloft, is weirder still. A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own. The cloud can re-shape and re-organise itself to tend to his every need – be it a coat rack, a bed or a girlfriend. What it can’t offer is food or water and as he looks at his future days floating over the land, he knows he must either face the cloud or die of starvation. The funky thing is, the cloud has a literal mind of its own, encased in a big head sitting in a dome. By trying to deactivate it, the young guy accidentally wakes the head sleeping in the cloud, causing the entire ship (if that’s what it was) to crash down to earth. Happy end again as he manages to get a working parachute and jump out.
The book ends on a pretty dark note, going on an apocalyptic end to the world. On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world, causing panic, thousands of death and freak weather cultists. Loved the fact that the main character was a lesbian and as part of the story-telling explores bigotism, small-mindness and proper WWE fighter morals 🙂
PS: book came with drawings which were pretty representative for the work shown. Some are pretty disturbing like a cat with nails on its side. But hey, the works are pretty disturbing too!