Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future
Lauren Redniss (Radioactive) offers a gorgeously rendered and singular piece of work with Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future. Her original artwork--copperplate photogravure etchings and photopolymer process prints, hand-colored, and a few drawings in oil pastel--is stunning, dreamy and evocative, the perfect complement to facts about weather and carefully selected interview excerpts and quotations.
She comments on the artistic tradition that inspired her: artist/scientists whose devotion to precision and accuracy have historically paired with "a sensation of strangeness, wonder, terror." Her work is certainly worthy of that tradition; drawings of wildfires recall Picasso's Guernica, and the chapter entitled "Sky" contains only striking illustrations and no text.
Redniss's text riffs on weather phenomena--conditions (cold, rain, heat, fog), concepts (dominion, war, profit)--and spans the planet and peoples throughout history. She considers weather that has been blamed on witches or credited to gods; the use of cloud seeding as a weapon by the United States against Vietnam; and weather derivatives and insurance. Her subjects are quirky and entertaining; her chapter "Forecast" covers both the Old Farmer's Almanac and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That tone of marvel and whimsy, plus exquisite illustrations, make Thunder & Lightning both remarkably beautiful and pleasingly informative. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia