A cli-fi novel with a daring TV weather forecaster who is Jewish? American novels explore everything, it seems, and Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz, who has been a TV meteorologist for more than 40 years, is exploring a new chapter in ethnic novels.
Now the Philadelphia-based TV presenter has set his sights on the writing game and in particular the newly-emerging literary genre of ”cli fi,” (a short nickname for “climate fiction” in the sci-fi sense of things). The novel he has written is titled “The Weathermaker” and the 60-something Philadelphia climate sleuth is aiming for the paperback market. A good climate thriller to read during a September hurricane … or a January polar vortex.
“Extreme weather is my specialty and I already see the changes,” Schwartz says. “It’s very scary and people need to be aware of the seriousness of this.”
“The story goes like this,” Schwartz told me in a recent update to his earlier emails. “The main character, Neil Stephenson, is a TV meteorologist and a rising star in the Baltimore area. During a snowstorm that isn’t producing as much snow as predicted, Neil discovers his gift: that he can actually make the snow increase or decrease, and make it rain or stop raining.”
That’s some superpower, as readers of the recently-published novel will find out.
“It takes a public experiment, with the world’s media watching, to prove that he can indeed control the weather,” Schwartz adds. “Now the question becomes what to do with this power.”
The backdrop to his novel is that of all of this is how man-made global warming has increased disasters around the world, Schwartz says.
Will readers agree with his thesis? Will scientists around the world agree on this?
So far it’s a very contentious discussion, with climate skeptics on one side, and climate alarmists on the other, but Schwartz hopes his novel will add to the global debate in an entertaining, escapist kind of way.
Who knows, Sweden’s eco-warrior Greta Thurnberg might even read the book and find it interesting.
Readers here of might be interested to know that Schwartz, who is Jewish, wrote the main character of Neil Stephenson as Jewish, well, half-Jewish.
“I made his background a part of the plot for reasons that will become obvious,” he told me.
“How many Jewish superheroes are there?” Schwartz adds: “In the book, Neil Stephenson’s father, Robert, is not Jewish, but his mother, Sally is the former Sally Rosenberg. Neil is a classically-handsome blond, blue-eyed guy, a natural for TV. So he doesn’t look Jewish, and with his name and look, very few people at the station where he works or the viewers in the Baltimore area know he family background.”
”Neil realizes his power and wonders why he got it and how he should use that power. So he visits a local Baltimore synagogue to talk to Rabbi Ira Bernstein. The rabbi tells him that he is basically a prophet, whose power is God-given, and it is his duty to use that power to help save people from the natural disasters that have become more and more common. The rabbi warns Neil that with the power comes conflicts and hardships.”
“This religious angle is part of my desire to explore the morality of changing the weather (‘weather modification’), and by implication, the ethics of trying to ‘fix’ the climate,” the author shares.
The religious angle returns much later in the book, according to the story, after Neil has helped India reduce the horrible flooding rains from their monsoon. But Iran was aware of what Neil had done (he’s an international celebrity by now) and Iran accuses India of “stealing” their rain by drying out the moisture that should be moving from India to Iran. And then a tabloid newspaper reveals that “The Weathermaker is a Jew!”
As expected, that leads to protests, death threats and lawsuits, Schwartz explains.
”So you can see that Neil’s religion is not just a trivial part of the book,” he says.