From charlesreid1

Heavy Weather is Bruce Sterling's interpretation of a variation on a cyberpunk theme. The variation, in this case, is "hacking" weather, in a future plagued by global warming and extreme weather events.

And therein lies the central complaint about the book - what, exactly, does it mean to "hack" weather? After dragging the reader along through over 100 pages, Sterling finally thrusts his characters into the first "extreme weather" event of the book, having not explained what hacking weather actually means. I thought this was a bit late to be explaining what the cast of characters actually do when they "hack weather," but I thought, better late then never.

Except that, even then, Sterling never bothers to mention what "hacking" means in the context of weather. Nobody is manipulating, or modifying, or controlling, or changing any weather. No activities performed by any of the main characters could be perceived as "hacking," in any standard interpretation of the word.

But Sterling certainly doesn't let the logical disconnect between what he talks about and what his characters do stop him. Sterling covers the whole gamut of cyberpunk jargon, and most of it, like weather hacking, goes unexplained, or is explained only after (well after) he's used the term. Sentences like this abound throughout the novel: "If Alex thought that stunting an ultralight was hairy, he'd learn otherwise if Buzzard virched him in an ornithopter to punch the core..." Sterling fails to mention what a core is, does not explain the ornithopter until several dozen pages later, turns virtual reality into a verb (virching) without explaining his conception of virtual reality, etc.

Explanation is not always necessary - this approach does have an attractive quality, thanks to its hip swagger. And if the author explains what he's talking about, it stunts that swagger. But this hipster mentality doesn't apply gracefully to Sterling's writing, because in just about every other sentence, the author expends significant effort to describe intricate, poetic details. If the author can wax poetic about the sunset, why can't he take a little time to explain what a core is, or how you punch one? There's no need to be coy.

In his post "Talking Technobabble" at the Letters Republic blog, Kevin Donovan is spot on in his explanation: "If you’re going to do jargon and jargon-esque description, get in and get out. Fast."

I thought, from the surreptitious burglary opening, that I was in for an adrenaline-filled, action-packed book. Unfortunately, the opening was merely a sideshow to the (more boring) central business of the book, "weather hacking" (whatever that is). Sure, the opening creates in the reader's mind a river of new technological concepts, plot elements, and good old-fashioned bad-assery (you can't beat thermite in an action sequence). But how any of the opening events have any relevance to being a weather hacker (other than, to introduce the main character's fancy vehicle), why the main character is so intent on rescuing her brother and why she chose the point in time she did, why I should continue reading the book after its first chapter, are all left up in the air, unanswered.

And when they come down, they come down on the side of "meh."