(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Nebula and World Fantasy Award winner, Elizabeth Hand has written a richly imagined near-future extrapolation in which an ecological disaster coincides with a major solar flare to permanently alter Earth’s atmosphere, disrupting power and communication. Plagues and disorganization follow. Out of the chaos emerge two main responses. GFI, a multinational conglomerate, promises a technological restoration of the lost “paradise.” Blue Antelope, a terrorist group dominated by a fundamentalist Christian ideology, wants to finalize the apocalypse and realize what they believe is God’s end to history. The opposition between these forces forms the background for narratives of the personal lives of two men in GLIMMERING: A NOVEL OF THE COMING MILLENNIUM.

Jack Finnegan would like to restore the past, but his lover is dead of AIDS, and Jack expects to die soon. Naive Trip Marlowe, a Christian rock star who has been carefully controlled for twenty-two years, stumbles toward a self-determined life. Hand frankly presents their sexual feelings and struggles. Seemingly at the center of the personal and larger-scale conflicts is Leonard Thrope, Jack’s childhood friend and former lover. Thrope is an enigmatic, irritating artist who repeatedly emphasizes that species life changes but probably will not end soon, while individual lives end all too soon. In a universe governed by chance, the future is truly unknown; the duty of the species is to do what it must to survive, of the individual to seek joy in one’s brief life.

More a novel of ideas than of character, GLIMMERING holds one’s interest more through gradual revelation of the situation than through deep sympathy with characters.

Sources for Further Study

Denver Post. April 27, 1997, p. G6.

Fantasy and Science Fiction. XCIII, August, 1997, p. 30.

Kirkus Reviews. LXV, January 15, 1997, p. 104.

Library Journal. CXXII, March 15, 1997, p. 93.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIV, February 3, 1997, p. 99.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVII, June 8, 1997, p. 7.