Elizabeth Hand — the pioneering fantasist, sci-fi writer, critic, and weird-fiction master — has claimed, in her stellar genre fiction, a world that is resolutely closer to ours. Hard Light (out this week from Macmillan) is Hand's third intimate noir starring Cass Neary, a photographer who made her name at the height of New York City punk and who now struggles with addiction, depression, and the sense that the city and the people and the self that she loved are all gone. (Not for nothing was the first book in the series titled Generation Loss.) Whip-smart, heartsick, and uniquely ambivalent, Neary winds up embroiled in mysteries in Maine, Iceland, and now London — mysteries she'd prefer not to be dealing with, thank you very much. In Hand's hands, crime is ugly, personal, dispiriting, and illuminating — and Neary's eventual success, in each book, bittersweet and thrilling at once. Hand reads from Hard Light this evening.
Photo of Elizabeth Hand by Norman Walters.