It’s 1999 and the world is falling apart at the seams. The sky is afire, the oceans are rising—and mankind is to blame. While the spoils of the 20th Century dwindle, Jack Finnegan lives on the fringes in his decaying mansion, struggling to keep his life afloat and his loved ones safe while battling that most modern of diseases—AIDS.
As the New Millennium approaches, Jack’s former lover, a famous photographer reveling in the world's decay, gifts him with a mysterious elixir called Fusax, a medicine rumored to cure the incurable AIDS. But soon, the "side effects" of Fusax become more apparent, and Jack gets mixed up with a bizarre entourage of rock stars, Japanese scientists, corporate executives, AIDS victims, and religious terrorists. While these larger players compete to control mankind's fate in the 21st Century, Jack is forced to choose his own role in the World's End, and how to live with it.
Originally published in 1997, Glimmering is a visionary mix of fantasy and science fiction about a world in which humanity struggles to cope with the ever-approaching "End of the End."
Fresh from her Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Waking the Moon, Hand extrapolates a brutal vision of Apocalypse 1999. Present-day social and scientific calamities--environmental collapse, the AIDS epidemic, global warming--meld into the Glimmering, a phenomenon in which the ozone layer devours itself in a frenzied melange of unearthly shapes and colors. Against this backdrop and a New York City seething with human desperation, Hand plays out two intertwining dances of death. In his last days, 40-ish gay AIDS victim Jack Finnegan comes home to his family's threadbare mansion to die, and slowly spirals toward intersection with young Trip Marlowe, a gospel singer turned rock idol, addicted to the hallucinogenic drug IZE. Pulling the strings that enmesh their fates is Jack's former lover, Leonard Thrope, a "sociocultural pathologist" bent on turning the death throes of his planet into a sick and sickening parody of art. Often, Hand's intersecting vignettes of decay are rendered in language that has an incantatory beauty even as she unflinchingly attempts to describe death and morbid sexual acts that preface both physical and moral extinction. Decidedly not for the squeamish, Hand's powerful vision of these days of wrath is not so much a protracted self-pitying whimper as a Nietzschean insistence on salvation through creative evolution. Hand seems to insist that humanity must prune itself before transplanting, mutating, growing. From her enigmatic title onward, she hints--barely--that after the harrowing voyage taken upon her fictional ship of death, humanity may yet emerge strange--and lovely.