A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (20 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Hannah and Melanie: sisters, apart and together. Weather workers. Time benders. When two people so determined have opposing desires, it’s hard to say who will win–or even what victory might look like. This stunning, haunting short story from rising star Alyssa Wong explores the depth and fierceness of love and the trauma of family.

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I was mesmerized by Hannah’s descriptions of what it felt like to make a storm appear or disappear. Thunderstorms are one of my favorite things in the entire world, so the thought of creating one whenever I felt like it was thrilling. With that being said, this isn’t the sort of power that anyone should misuse, and I liked the way the author hinted at how complicated it would be to change the weather without affecting anything else in the environment at the same time. This felt quite reasonable to me, and it made me curious to know more about the possible longterm effects of such a power.

It would have been helpful to have the events of this tale in a more chronological order. The narrator jumped around from past to present so often that it took me a while to figure out what happened and in what order everything occurred. This was especially true when it came to a dark scene early on that wasn’t explained until later.

Grief isn’t always an easy thing to talk about. One of my favorite aspects of this story was how it explored the parts of the grieving process that generally happen weeks, months, or sometimes even years after the event that started this process. It’s one thing to deal with a tragedy early on when it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind. Figuring out how to heal from it once some of those community support structures have fallen away is an entirely different task, so I appreciated the fact that Hannah was shown in this stage of recovery.

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers should be read by anyone who has ever wished they could change something about their past.

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