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We Speak Through the Mountain  (Reid Graham, volume 2)

By Premee Mohamed 

30 May, 2024

Illimitable Dominion


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2024’s We Speak Through the Mountain, a sequel to Premee Mohamed’s The Annual Migration of Clouds, is a near-future science fiction novella.

Nineteen-year-old Reid Graham was one of the lucky few invited to attend university at Howse University. Reid was also one of the lucky fewer who survived her trip across the post-collapse hellscape between her tiny home community and Howse, which is sheltered in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

Having reached Howse, Reid can put her troubles behind her. Will she?

Doomsday was unevenly distributed. Howse University was established as a proof of concept [1], just as the ecological disaster was beginning to accelerate. Unlike many high-tech proofs of concepts one could mention, Howse worked more or less as intended. Consequently, the university is a sparkling oasis of wealth and safety in a desolate world.

Of particular relevance to Reid is the fact that Howse has made tremendous progress in finding solutions to CAD, a parasitic infection that swept the world decades ago. CAD’s final stage is an excruciating death for the host. There is no cure for CAD. However, Howse can manage the infection, preventing the onset of the final, fatal stage. Good news for CAD-infectee Reid.

Reid struggles to adapt to the university. The disparity between Howse and the world outside bothers her. So do her questions about Howse’s motivations for inviting outsiders to attend without providing the means for them to reach Howse safely… also why it is that none of the handful of outsiders who make it as far as Howse ever leave. Finding official accounts unconvincing, Reid draws her own conclusions.

Matters come to a head when Reid learns her mother, likewise a victim of CAD, is the final stages of the disease. No point in asking Howse to admit her mother. Howse would only say no. Howse will permit Reid to rejoin her mother for however long it takes Reid’s mother to scream herself to death, but it will not permit Reid to take any Howse medications with her.

Reid is determined to return to her mother with the means to ease her pain. Howse is just as determined to prevent theft of its scarce resources to treat a woman who cannot be saved. Who will prevail?


The series does not appear to have a formal collective name as such. Annual Migration of Clouds” seems a mouthful as a series name, thus my selection of Reid Graham” for my purposes on my website.

The story is told from Reid’s perspective, so there’s no omniscient narrator to reveal whether Reid’s suspicions about Howse’s motivations are correct or if Reid is being paranoid (or if CAD, famously able to alter host behavior for its own ends, is manipulating Reid). The evidence on hand is open to a broad range of interpretations.

In Howse’s defense, if they are telling the truth about their CAD treatment, there’s not much point in sending medication with Reid. The treatment is not a cure but an ongoing process. Reid might buy her mother time but probably not a lot of it. Surely, a banana-flavored suicide pill is within Howse’s means?

There are a lot of post-apocalyptic stories about brave enclaves heroically protecting their carefully preserved knowledge and comparative wealth from the desperate barbarians outside their walls. Some such narratives are critical of the enclave approach. This book is one of the critical ones, as it’s told from the perspective of a barbarian granted a seat in the lifeboat.

One wonders if the author had real-world models in mind. Can you think of any? It would be odd if a small group, particularly a small group of academics, were to hoard wealth and technological resources while letting the rest of the world go hang. Are academics known for sheltering within a cozy enclave while turning a blind eye to the plight of the world outside their borders? Shouldn’t the smartest people be the most moral? 

We Speak Through the Mountain is a novella and comparatively short (only 145 pages). The plot is by necessity fast-paced. That said, brevity did not preclude engaging characterization. Like the first volume, Mountain ends on something of a cliff-hanger. One can only hope this is an unstated promise of further volumes.

We Speak Through the Mountain is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo), and here (Words Worth Books).

1: The oligarchs for whom the enclave was a proof of concept appear to have provided sufficient funds without actually gaining access to the enclave. Ah well. The book is science fiction.