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A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers
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A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  619 ratings  ·  141 reviews
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.
Kindle Edition, A Tor.Com Original, 18 pages
Published March 2nd 2016 by Tor Books
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  619 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The day my sister ended the world, the sky opened up in rain for the first time in years, flooding the desert wash behind our house. The snakes drowned in their holes and the javelinas stampeded downstream, but the water overtook them, and the air filled with their screaming as they were swept away.

this is good spiky stuff for your feeling-parts.

it's a family story, and there's magical stuff and a kind of time travel or time manipulation, but despite the bravado of a child: It was simple, Melani
Elise (TheBookishActress)
I will use this as my review for every Alyssa Wong story I ever read until she gets to publish a collection at long last 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊

→ Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers ← ★★★★★
read this legendary store for free here
This is basically one of the most terrifying stories I have read in my life. A girl uses Tinder to find dates and feed off their gross thoughts about her body. And on one date, she feasts off a murderer and becomes addicted. There's also a maybe-romance between her and her best frien
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hands-down, totally gorgeous, kick you in the crotch, will not dare to pretend you're a stupid reader, DANGEROUS story.

I love it!

There are way too few stories like this, full of heart and anger and frustration flowing incomprehensibly from either hyperbole or from gigantic world-destroying energies and permutations of time travel and godlike powers. Could be just one. Could be both. Who knows? From one way to read it, it could just be a pair of very volatile sisters that FEEL life so strongly, s
Elena May
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another one of the Hugo short-story finalists. A beautifully written, abstract tale of different possibilities, choices, and the inevitableness of some outcomes no matter which path we choose.

“If I could knit you a crown of potential futures like the daisies you braided together for me when we were young, I would. ”

Two sisters can manipulate time and space. When one commits suicide, the other plays with her abilities and tries to change this, but no matter what she does, the final result is
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, well written short story.
Sh3lly (
I read this for free over at This is the second short story I have read by this author and I really like the way she writes. It appeals to me on an emotional level. Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers was more creepy horror, while this one has a sad, longing sci-fi vibe to it. Sci-fi or fantasy, not sure. The two sisters have "abilities." They can control the weather and literally the fabric of reality and time travel.

One of the sisters dies and the other spends her time trying to go
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Another free story, again from Alyssa Wong and again a powerful story that sucks you up from the first line until the last. This author is really good at making you feel all the feels in a short amount of time!
This was not a horror story per se (unlike the first by this author that I read only a couple of minutes ago) but what the MC went through, emotionally, was definitely horrific in its own way.
The world-building is very nice and so are the characterizations.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor, short-stories
A short, interesting and brutal tale of two sisters that doesn't neatly fit into a genre. Sci/Fi-fantasy-dark fiction or some combination of the above. I liked it. :)
Read 3.23.18
Althea Ann
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
This is sort-of a fantasy story, maybe. But it's more of an exploration of the aftermath of a suicide, the mental state where someone grieving the loss of a loved one goes through all the possibilities; the "what-ifs" and the "if only I'd done something differently."

We're told that the narrator and her lost sibling had special abilities; the possibility to change reality - but it's not certain that that is true. If it is, changing outcomes is certainly very 'hard' as the character says.

The styl
Arielle Walker
If I could knit you a crown of potential futures like the daisies you braided together for me when we were young, I would.

I read this too fast, found it beautiful, but missed... something.

Read it again instantly (it's short enough).

The day my sister ended the world, the sky opened up in rain for the first time in years, flooding the desert wash behind our house. The snakes drowned in their holes and the javelinas stampeded downstream, but the water overtook them, and the air filled w
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
The sentences are beautiful, the sentiment is strong, and the overall structure is intriguing. How can you go wrong with an opening of javelinas drowning as they try to outrun a flash flood?

...the air filled with their screaming as they were swept away.

I was hooked. Then it was a cherry bowl of words and meanings, which I don't think I really comprehended, and probably wasn't supposed to comprehend. There's much angst and pain and frustration, all of which kept me going as a reader, although I'm
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, free, short-story
I was completely lost in the emotions of the story. Would definitely recommend reading. Amazing story.
Tw's: mentions of suicide and self harm

So many emotions and complex concepts developed in such a short story.

And thanks to another reader here on GR's, I found out this one:
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Vaya viaje emocional en apenas unas páginas. Alyssa Wong escribe muy, pero que muy bien.
Amy (Other Amy)
There was nothing phoenix-like in my sister’s immolation. Just the scent of charred skin, unbearable heat, the inharmonious sound of her last, grief-raw scream as she evaporated, leaving glass footprints seared into the desert sand.

If my parents were still alive—although they are, probably, in some iteration of the universe; maybe even this one—they would tell me that it wasn’t my fault, that no one could have seen it coming. That she did this to herself. But that kind of blame doesn’t suit me.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this short story! It reminded me somewhat of Nova Ren Suma's style. Stunning story and BEAUTIFUL writing style.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oh crap... that was dark, and so so so so bleak. Huge points to Alyssa Wong for not stating the obvious, but scattering the story with enough clues so that one could understand the absolute dissatisfaction with her lot, and the other being unable to stop her no matter what she did.

Read the story here:
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it
At first, the only thing that caught my attention was the title. I felt like I want and have to read it. So I did.

I have to say the message in this one, is indeed a strong-deep-meaningful one. It shows that you shouldn’t blame yourself for the loss of your loved ones (in terms of suicide, self-harm, depression…) it’s their own mind, their own pain, their own choices and in no way they own you any explanation.

As someone who spend a lot of time thinking about this (let’s say topic) I can say – th
I like the core concept, here, the connection between the sisters and Hannah's struggle to save Melanie and the way external powers are never enough to save us from ourselves. But I felt the metaphor overwhelmed the emotional power in places, and I found myself wishing for something a little quieter, a little smaller scale. Less literal world-ending, more introspection and willingness to grapple with grief.

Also, (view spoiler)
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor-com, pretty-words
This was raw and full of pain.
The prose is beautiful, flowing and full of emotion.
The story got a little lost at points, but it was enjoyable.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting. Great imagery. A bit hard to follow. Feels more like an idea for a novel than a complete story. Will seek out more by Ms. Wong.
Erin (PT)
Stories like this are like dragonflies skimming over water. They touch down, here, there, on a surface that is so teeming with life, but then they're gone. The pieces of this story are beautiful, tantalizing, enticing. The story told in the pieces is engrossing and haunting...but I still want more from it. A greater lucidity...though I have to wonder if that's even entirely possible, given the subject matter. But it's one of those stories that lives in the liminal borderlands between poetry and ...more
Claire Legrand
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly good. Brutal, beautiful, breathtaking. This was my first Alyssa Wong read, and now I'm on a hunt for everything she's ever written. I want a whole shelf full of fantasy novels written by her. A WHOLE SHELF.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Wow. Wow.
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5ish stars.

I would totally read a novel about this. Looks like I'mma have to read more Alyssa Wong.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Spoilers & personal info under the cut.

(view spoiler)
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Read via the Worlds Seen in Passing anthology.

Two sisters can time travel, but the narrator never predicted her sister would destroy the world, and herself along with it, until it’s too late, and our narrator is forcing into an endless loop of desperately trying to change the inevitable. I don’t think I have enough time to possibly explain how much I adore Alyssa’s writing. Every story I have read by her has left me a crumpled, sobbing mess, and this was no exception, but I welcome the heartbrea
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Alyssa Wong studies fiction in Raleigh, NC, and really, really likes crows. She was a finalist for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her story, “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the 2016 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize, the Bram Stoker Award, the Locus Awar ...more
“I would give you only the best things. The kindness you deserved, the body you wanted, a way out that didn’t end with the horizon line ripped open, possibilities pouring out like loose stuffing, my world shrieking to a halt. I would have fixed everything.” 2 likes
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