With Storm, first published in 1941, George R. Stewart invented a new genre of fiction, what we might today call the eco-novel. California has been plunged in drought throughout the summer and fall, when, just after the new year, half a world away, a ship on the Pacific reports an unusual barometric reading. In San Francisco, a junior meteorologist in the weather bureau takes note of the anomaly and plots “an incipient little whorl” on the weather map, a developing storm, he suspects, that he privately dubs Maria. Stewart’s novel tracks Maria’s eastward progress to and beyond the shores of the United States through the eyes of meteorologists, linemen, snowplow operators, a general, a couple of decamping lovebirds, and an unlucky owl, and the storm, as it ebbs and falls, will bring long-needed rain, flooding roads, deep snows, accidents, and death. Storm itself combines brilliant narrative invention and widespread erudition to offer an epic account of humanity’s relationship to, and dependence on, the natural world.
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