Every Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.
This week’s subject is “Extreme Weather”:
One thing you can say about the countries in David Eddings’ world of the Belgariad, you always know how to pack. It can be troublesome if you cross a border though, because the weather will change immediately. Sort of like World of Warcraft. The best example is the journey from the humid, rainy swampland of Nyissa to the barren, scorching desert of Cthol Murgos. No transition, just step from one country to the other and all of a sudden the moisture evaporates.
Sanderson has all sorts of extreme weather in the Stormlight Archive, the planet Roshar and its societies have adapted to the regular hurricane-strength highstorms that blow across the planet, their only respite coming during the annual Weeping, a month of constant rain, broken by the single Light Day, when the sun shines. Of course this is all thrown to Hell at the end of Words of Radiance as the Parshendi unleash the Everstorm, a magical highstorm that travels the planet in the opposite direction of the highstorms, transforming all Parshendi in its path into Voidbringers.
I’ve lived through Arizona’s extreme weather, but the horrors that Bacigalupi weaves in this dystopian nightmare are enough to make me move to the Pacific Northwest. In Bacigalupi’s near future, the Deep South and much of Texas are underwater thanks to the rising waters of the Gulf of Mexico, while the Southwest broils under endless drought. Dust storms blow across Arizona and the states battle for scarce water resources with guns and legal trickery. In the meantime, all the migrants from Texas, the Merry Perrys, can do is pray for rain.
No, I’m not talking about the floods and storms that accompany the apocalypse. I’m thinking of the extremely normal weather that Tadfield always has. “Normal weather for the time of year isn’t normal, Sergeant. It has snow at Christmas. When did you last see snow at Christmas? And long hot Augusts? Every year? And crisp autumns? The kind of weather you used to dream of as a kid? It never rained on November the Fifth and always snowed on Christmas Eve?” That’s the antichrist for ya.
This dark fantasy follows a community of witches who guard the borderlands between our world and the afterlife in a small town in Illinois. The story begins almost 200 years ago when the townsfolk burn the mysterious Nicholas Blaine at the stake, which sets off a mysterious blizzard that immediately froze the town and killed the menfolk. The story picks up 40 years later when the town is burned to the ground during an extreme drought. But this extreme weather wasn’t made up— both of these events were based on actual history.
A masterpiece of science-fiction from one of the greatest British new wave writers, this trilogy follows the rise and fall of civilization on the planet Helliconia. The planet is part of a binary solar system, and its seasons last thousands of years. During the winters, society collapses as humanity retreats underground. But when spring arrives the humans reclaim their place on the planet from the alien Phagors, rebuilding civilization only to have it collapse again in another millennium. But the main character is the planet itself, and how its ecosystem has evolved through such diverse changes. Note: The Helliconia trilogy is available as an omnibus print edition overseas, but is only available as individual e-books in the U.S.