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Carl Stagg is a historian researching imperial influence in seventeenth century Sri Lanka, itself a security state, who makes a living as a watchman in a factionalized America where confidence in democracy has eroded. Along his nightly patrol, Stagg finds a beaten prostitute, one in a series of monstrous attacks he learns. Suspicious of his supervisor's intentions, Stagg partners with a fellow part-time watchman, Ravan, to seek the truth. Ravan hails from a family developing storm-dispersal technologies, whose research is jointly funded by the Indian and American governments.
The watchmen's discoveries put a troubling complexion on Stagg's research, giving it new shape and impetus, just as the weather modification project begins to appear less about dispersing storms than weaponizing them.
By gracefully considering the effect of a militarized state upon the personal nature of its citizenry, as well as the study of microtonal music and weather modification,Square Wave signals the triumphant arrival of a young writer certain to be considered one of the most ambitious and intelligent of his generation.
Mark de Silva holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Cambridge. He is an editor atAeon Media, having earlier worked on the opinion pages of the New York Times. His writing has appeared inThe New Inquiry, the Paris Review Daily, and the New York Times.