By Marianne de Pierres
Australia : Twelfth Planet Press, 2010
A review by
When I think of biological disasters in science fiction, books like the Michael Crichton’s Andromeda Strain come to mind, with humans facing deadly change. Nothing says, however, that it is has to be that way, as some good could come along with the bad. This is one theme in several of the stories in Marianne de Pierres’ collection, Glitter Rose, from Twelfth Planet Press. When a “freak of nature” changes a touristy tropical island into a place for those seeking something they cannot find anywhere else, great stories are the result.
Tinashi has come to Carmine Island “worn by heartache” and seeking isolation. A decade before, spores settled on the island causing “exotic, even terminal afflictions”. Since then, only those who could afford the expensive suppressants can survive here and most who come seek either a hint of danger or escape from the past. Tinashi is obviously the latter, but she also sees beauty here, such as during the “glitter rose dusk”, when the spore turn the beach into a “carpet of tiny, shining rose-colored grains”. This is beauty with an edge because should one walk among it, the spores would change them. The effect is different for each person. The change can be seen on some of the locals, which might be as subtle as “water retention on the forehead”, or could be something deeper. When she first arrives, Tinashi finds the seclusion she seeks, but soon her neighbors take an interest in her and she learns more about of them, whether she would or not. Like most visitors, they are here for a reason, one directly connected with the spore. They form an unusual crew, including a pair on a long honeymoon, a deep sea fisherman, a divinity teacher and his daughter, and a marine biologist. Most intriguing is Katrin, who has no fear of the spore as she is immune; she gladly walks where others fear to tread.
Where is the good in this? How about Lauren, who is going slowly blind, but this seems a fair trade off, as she was dying from a fatal illness that the spore completely cured. What makes these four stories fascinating is the emotional impact the spore has on the residents, some reacting with greed, others loosing dark desires, and still others forming a family from those who choose to live in this altered world. Definitely a character driven work, the Glitter Rose stories are full of humanity at its worst and best, all set amidst wonder and magnificence.
The last story in this collection, “In the Bookshadow”, is set in a place we all know, a book store. Darker than the four other stories, a clerk in a small book shop begins seeing strange sites, starting with a “large, shadowy, evil” crow. Is this an omen or warning? Why these eerie shadows are appearing could be a warning to us all.
This slim volume might not seem like much, but its stories are lively, compelling and will definitely touch your heart. You might have to search a bit for a copy, but it is well worth seeking out the gem of Glitter Rose.
FastForward TV blog posted here courtesy of Colleen Cahill.