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Mother of Storms

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,394 ratings  ·  68 reviews
In the middle of the Pacific, a gigantic hurricane accidentally triggered by nuclear explosions spawns dozens more in its wake.

A world linked by a virtual-reality network experiences the devastation first hand, witnessing the death of civilization as we know it and the violent birth of an emerging global consciousness.

Vast in scope, yet intimate in personal detail, Mother
Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
Published May 15th 1995 by Tor (first published 1994)
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3.77  · 
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 ·  1,394 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Michelle Morrell
I first read this back in the 90s when it was new and quite speculative, and called it one of my favorites for over a decade.

Massive amounts of methane are released from under the ice, causing the global temperature to rise. Sonic hurricanes form over oceans just warm enough that they never dissipate; looping around, over and over, spawning children that grow just as fast.

Layered over top a cyberpunk existence of VR living (and dying), self driving cars and snippet journalism, it seemed pretty
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is crazy, disgusting society mixed together with incredibly well-researched meteorology. You wouldn't think that would make a good novel, but I couldn't put it down, and re-read it often.

I've read quite a few of Barnes' novels, and he clearly is very serious about his research. Mother of Storms has (as far as I as a layperson can tell) an incredible level of detail and accuracy in the science. Every plot point is backed up with huge amounts of science info-dump that somehow manages to
Invadozer Misothorax Circular-thallus Popewaffensquat
Out of the 3 other end civilization via weather, (Lucifer's Hammer-
Niven/Pournelle, Psychlone-Bear, Heavy Weather-Sterling) this one
takes the cake. Brushing into a handful of peoples lives all who are
connected by jobs, media, or relation they are directly affected by
events surrounding the bombing of the artic by the UN. This bomb
dropping not only knocks out the Siberian threat of war, it releases
a big methane gas pocket stuck under the ice causing heat in the
atmosphere and the worlds biggest hur
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Immense. That's the best word I can think of to describe this story.

At first glance, it's the story of an apocalypse -- a nuclear attack accidentally releases enough methane into the air to cause catastrophic global warming and resulting hurricanes.

But it doesn't take much of a peek beneath the surface to see that this story is a classic scifi lover's utopia. Who are we? Where are we going? What is the nature of humanity? I got all this and more as I slowly grew to realize that the apocalypse
John Burt
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the book which introduced me to methane clathrates, and to the importance they could come to have for us all. Darn the luck that in this universe, clathrates are real and thiotimoline and cavorite are fictititous.
The predictions in this book which have aged best are, unfortunately, the ones I would rather had not: the book opens in 2028 with a United Nations raid on an illegal weapons cache which accidentally results in the release of methane from Arctic Ocean clathrates. What we have in
Mar 24, 2014 marked it as abandoned
Six pages in, I get to read about the bloody and violent rape and murder of a minor girl. Nine pages in, a lovely gentleman refers to a woman as, "some upper-level bitch." "It's gotta be some woman," that gives this prince his "shit assignments." Because obviously a man would see his worth, right? On pages 10-14 I get to read about some sex-obsessed guy fantasizing about sex with his girlfriend. During this time he muses with respect to her, "There's a lot of easier ass in the world."

I'm sorry,
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
A clunky kitchen sink novel about catastrophe, salacious sex, and gritty businessisms contrived only for the sake of getting attention, with no thematic cohesion or style. Lots of bad stuff happens worldwide, but the author isn't able to convey this emotionally or globally. If you want to read a good kitchen sink novel about weather, sex, and grit, skip this and go immediately to River of Gods by Ian McDonald.
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've had the paperback version since it was released in 1995, and I've re-read it and passed it back and forth to friends so many times in the intervening years, that my copy is quite tattered. This is an excellent read. Well-written characters that you find yourself really rooting for and a fast paced plot that keeps you up til all hours because you just have to find out what happens next. If you like well thought out near-future disaster books with characters you actually care what happens to, ...more
Cameron Shea
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It's a speculative thriller with hard science meteorology about climate disaster...

I read this at the beach, which was a good way to enhance the experience. The world-building is ace; there are a lot of shifting characters and it takes a bit to find your footing, but once it gets rolling I had no problems following along and did have problems putting it down. The story lost a few points with the very 1990s-naive optimism rose-colored ending, but I get it, we used to believe technology could st
Dec 22, 2009 rated it liked it
So, you're in the mood for some apocalyptic meteorology! Do I have a book for you. An accidental nuclear strike in the Arctic has released millions of tons of methane into the environment, melting the ice of the North Pole and disrupting ocean currents. This causes 200 mph hurricanes which wipe entire Pacific islands down to bare rock and kill millions of people, while a listless population sits glued to their virtual-reality goggles.

It is just... great/awful. Grawful? The content is incredibly
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was written in 1994:
"Buildings as tall as forty stories are going over, but the World Trade Center seems to be holding firm." (p.393)
"... and the beautiful Earth is being crapped up by an excess of people--lovely as individuals, towns and cultures, but hideous in such profusion." (p.367)

This is a remarkable book, written by someone with a vaster amount of science understanding than I have. I had trouble following the "funnels" of Louie Tynan's ship, but I could get the gist of it. What I
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2002-read, 1995-read
Eight years since I last read this? Time for a re-read.
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite near future scifi books of all time. Love the way Barnes thinks!
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
The science/sci-fi aspects of the book centering on the hurricanes and the 'net were interesting and engaging, and I enjoyed being along for the ride despite the rather convenient wrap-up at the end. However, the book suffers from the all too common trope of proving the bad moral character of men through their terrible treatment of women, often centering on extreme sexual violence toward young girls. This takes up an entire side plot that adds nothing to the world or the character development, a ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a re-read. After weathering a couple of hurricanes this fall I was reminded of this book as having been a very immediate experience of extremes of climate change. The book imagines a future in which one manmade event sets off a vastly accelerated global warming leading to a superstorm and it's hundreds of daughters. It also imagines the future of AI and human augmentation to a place far over the horizon, and much more benevolent than what we generally see. John Barnes gets his climate s ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Weather porn!
Porn porn!
Barnes' amazingly prescient (in its wider strokes) 1994 novel of a world where massive climate change is going on due to methane clathrates in the Arctic, while humans are amusing themselves to death with porn and more porn (especially if everyone's taste in porn was around the Kelly Stafford level rather than, say, the films of Marc Dorcel). This is the one with the unfortunately named Randi Householder and the actress Mary Anne Waterhouse, er, human barbie Synthi Venture
Leila P
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A permanent superhurricane in Pacific spawns many more in its wake and whole societies are in peril. There are lots of characters and each one was potrayed with interest. I felt like Barnes had crammed stuff for several books in this one (other topics were e.g. implants and networks offering people a change to be another person, human consciousness is loaded inside a machine, a sex criminal is hunted). Complex and interesting.
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic look at the future of AI, cybernetics, the entertainment industry, and humanity, all in the guise of a novel about surviving natural disasters. There are many layers and storylines, all of them compelling. This is one of Barnes' best books, largely because the near-future setting provides a sense of real possibility that grips the reader's imagination and runs with it. A must-read.
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Fun read, and I think I would have loved it back in 1994 when it was published, but the whole idea of creating an ultimate AI by altering the human brain makes the saving of the earth seem kind of week- a la Deus ex Machine.
Gwenny Todd
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Excellent story! Very engaging. But Barnes is always good.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Great example of hard sf although you do have to accept that world governments would actually agree to do what starts the storm.
Philip Hollenback
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
A surprisingly fun and enjoyable sci-fi techno thriller.
Dan Haywood
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's a multi facetted sci fi thriller with cool technological concepts, very interesting characters, and settings. I seriously enjoyed reading it many years ago.
Dani Mathew
I can describe this book that its a more darker version of the Takeshi Kovacs novels.
its darker, grittier and the science is believable to an extent.
Roddy Williams
Barnes is not one of those authors who finds a particular niche within the genre and fills it with novels of a similar style and content. His work includes the Galactic Human Society of ‘A Million Open Doors’ and ‘Earth Made of Glass’, the parallel universes of ‘Finity’ and here, a near-future disaster novel in which a small nuclear explosion in the Arctic releases a huge amount of methane trapped in the polar ice.
The consequence of this is that Hurricanes, of a size and ferocity never before se
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stories, sf, environment
This was the second book I ever read by John Barnes. Since then I have been hooked on his books. Unfortunately his books are very hard to find here in NZ, but still I managed to accumulate most over the years.
I recently re re-read this book just to see why I loved it so much.Barnes has a very fluid style in his books and this is no exception. As it is deals with
weather disaster theory it is kinda close to home. In this book internet has taken on a
whole new meaning with XV. He highlights what it
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I accidentally re-read this book and it took me a fair ways into it to decide whether I was pleased or dismayed to be doing so! The first thing I remembered was it was overly ambitious...too many characters and subplots. He tied them all together but I question their necessity. I really enjoyed the Carla/Louie parts with their almost casual transcendence into Singularity. Very Charles Stross Accelerando! However, the total lack of reaction to this eye-popping occurrence among the government and ...more
Sarah Hammang
Feb 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
It took 4 years for me to get through this book. Not a fan. I would only recommend this book to someone I don't like.
Franklin  Hummel
I finished this sometime ago, but just lack the enthusiasm to write a review of it until I saw today it was still on my "Reading" list at 99%. So I decide it was time for me to write something so I could remove it.

Given this was written in 1995, this book is remarkable for how this book predicts the affects of Climate Change, though not in the sudden way used in the book.

Beyond that, the book lacks focus and is far too long. The affect on Humanity and our Earth is not developed in a way that con
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John Barnes (born 1957) is an American science fiction author, whose stories often explore questions of individual moral responsibility within a larger social context. Social criticism is woven throughout his plots. The four novels in his Thousand Cultures series pose serious questions about the effects of globalization on isolated societies. Barnes holds a doctorate in theatre and for several yea ...more