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Ambika Shaligram
Saturday, 9 March 2019

Tanushree Podder’s latest book is a racy thriller but in cli-fi genre. Decoding the Feronia Files explains how weather modification is the ultimate weapon of war

A new arsenal has been added to the conventional warfare techniques —  controlling weather or weather modification. Or to put it more correctly, it’s already being tested and the devastating results are all around us — flash floods, droughts, landslides, tornadoes and so on.

Why use chemicals or nukes when you can bring a country down on its knees just by unleashing drought conditions and wrecking its economy? This is the premise of Decoding the Feronia Files, a cli-fi (climate-fiction) thriller penned by city-based author Tanushree Podder and her husband, Ajoy. The book has been published by Readomania.

The thriller opens in CIA Headquarters, Langley, USA, where the CIA director realises that a series of tornadoes that hit USA, two major earthquakes in Japan and a huge wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada don’t seem to be natural disasters. He has also got a call from the White House indicating that the US President suspects the involvement of weather modification experts in some of these incidents. 

The readers are then made aware of the presence of High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). The facility which operated from Alaska was terminated, but the President suspects that some of the scientists are working for a rogue organisation and they have activated weather control experiments, which are responsible for natural disasters occurring throughout the world.

As the story progresses, the usual suspects jump into the fray — there is Pakistan’s ISI, Russia’s Sluzbha Vneshney Razvedki, India’s PMO, Army Intelligence Unit, RAW and Indian Mountaineering Foundation — making Decoding the Feronia Files an action-packed book. 
Facts and fiction have been blended seamlessly in this book and the niggling thought at the back of our mind, ‘This could be true’. makes Decoding the Feronia Files, a page turner. Tanushree Podder tells us more about the book...

Did all those natural disasters that are making news tell you ‘here’s a story’?
Over the last few decades, weather has undergone a substantial change. It is being increasingly believed that not all of it is due to global warming or other natural processes. Instances of weather related devastations are also on the rise. 

It was while researching for another book that we stumbled upon some disquieting information on weather modification. That was the first time we had heard of the phenomenon. Curiosity led us to further research on the subject and what we discovered was quite astonishing and disturbing. 

With the shock came the realisation that ‘weather modding’, as it is also known, has the potential to control the weather conditions across nations. Expertise in the field could empower a country beyond imagination. We also learnt that USA and some other superpowers had already stepped up research in the field. They had carried out several covert experiments, many of them with disastrous results.

There was immense potential for a book, we realised. Very few books have been written on weather modification, so we stepped in to fill the gap. Thrillers can effectively capture a reader’s imagination, so we decided to narrate the story as cli-fi thriller.

What was your reference point while writing Decoding the Feronia Files considering that there is not much material available in climate-fiction genre in India?
As you rightly mentioned, there hasn’t been a book on cli-fi genre in India. Writing a book on a subject with scant material is always a challenge. Our reference point was the actual incidents of weather modification that had occurred through the world. The book is a blend of facts and fiction, which required careful blending but we have managed to do it quite well. That, I feel, has been a matter of great satisfaction to both of us.

There are so many characters in the book; how did you keep tab over their lives?  
Writing a book with multiple characters, locations, institutions and agencies is never easy. Decoding the Feronia Files was a complex book to write. In fact, it is one of the most difficult books I have written. The story races through many countries, involving their intelligence agencies and characters. 
It required extensive research about weather modification, locations, people and also about the method in which the intelligence agencies operate. Since the story unfolds simultaneously on various fronts, it requires skillful juggling of the narrative.

Can you explain Ajoy’s contribution to the book?
Research played a major role in the writing of this book. Since it was a monumental task for a single person, we divided the task. Later, we collated the information each one had accumulated. I have used Ajoy as a sounding board for all my books, discussing the plot, characters and events. This time, however, we worked together to put together the facts, then chalked out the plot and sequenced the events. 

In a joint effort, it is very important to know each other’s strength and employ it for optimum result. While I am a right brained person, Ajoy is left brained. My strength lies in visualising and writing, and his in researching and editing. Besides, he has his specific areas of expertise, one of which is his experience in the army and in high altitude warfare. The chapters about an army expedition sent to the Himalayas were mainly his contribution. 

Do you plan to write a sequel to the novel - considering AA, the head of Feronia Foundation, has not been caught and also that the ‘race to control the weather continues unabated’?
We anticipate many more developments in the field of weather modification, in the coming years. Using the expertise for devious means is very likely. As we have mentioned, weather will be the ultimate weapon of war. Although, we have not thought of a sequel yet, there is a strong possibility of writing one.

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