Short Story Review: A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong

Note: This review is part of the 2016 Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight.

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers
By Alyssa Wong
Release Date: March 2, 2016
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Sci-fi Fantasy
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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.


Well I’m on quite the Alyssa Wong roll at this point. Now I’ve only got one more short story of hers to read and I’ve read all of hers. That said, if I were ranking them, this one would sit comfortably in the middle.

I loved that this story follows two sisters as one makes a fateful decision and the other moves through time and time again to try to change that outcome. For the time travel aspect, I obviously wanted a much more fleshed out experience but it’s a short story so I’m still in my feelings about what I think of executing such a favorite world building instrument of mine in such a short amount of time with, debatably, so little.

In this story, the sisters have powers that transcend time and space but we see here that even if you have the power to control such things, you still can’t control life and death. This is such a powerful story about possibility – about the possibilities that we hold in the palms of our hands. It’s a striking reminder of the choices we make within the fate we may not be able to escape…or can we?

Through this sibling relationship, we explore what it can be like getting caught up in trying to save someone we love, doing something for someone else’s benefit (for our benefit) when it’s not our place to decide what someone else needs, where someone else goes…ends up. It’s a strange and uncomfortably loud reminder that we keep the world spinning but the world was spinning long before we came along and it really doesn’t need us as much as we think it does, especially when our love is boundless yet we don’t respect boundaries.

This is a thought provoking and heartbreaking exploration of boundaries and guilt and never knowing a person’s pain, another person’s loneliness. This is a story of deep passion, imbalanced and the journey we are on to try and try again, time and time again to get it right.

I love what the story represents and gets me to think about more than the story itself. The story’s good. But look at what it’s given me to ponder. So much more. So, yeah, this is pretty great. Plus the writing style is just so lovely. I love Alyssa’s voice. It feels so comfortable now, reading her voice. Anyway, overall, here’s another great work by Alyssa Wong. Get to it if you haven’t yet.

Favorite Lines:

  • If I could knit you a crown of potential futures like the daisies you braided together for me when we were young, I would.
  • “Hannah. How many people are you going to destroy before you give up on me?”

Read A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong at