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Bad Glass

Bad Glass

3.5 2
by Richard E. Gropp

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One of the most hauntingly original dark fantasy debuts in years—perfect for fans of Lost and Mark Danielewski’s cult classic, House of Leaves.
Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet,


One of the most hauntingly original dark fantasy debuts in years—perfect for fans of Lost and Mark Danielewski’s cult classic, House of Leaves.
Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet, spreading curiosity, skepticism, and panic. For what they show is—or should be—impossible: strange creatures that cannot exist, sudden disappearances that violate the laws of physics, human bodies fused with inanimate objects, trapped yet still half alive. . . .
Dean Walker, an aspiring photographer, sneaks into the quarantined city in search of fame. What he finds will change him in unimaginable ways. Hooking up with a group of outcasts led by a beautiful young woman named Taylor, Dean embarks on a journey into the heart of a mystery whose philosophical implications are as terrifying as its physical manifestations. Even as he falls in love with Taylor—a woman as damaged and seductive as the city itself—his already tenuous hold on reality starts to come loose. Or perhaps it is Spokane’s grip on the world that is coming undone.
Now, caught up in a web of interlacing secrets and betrayals, Dean, Taylor, and their friends must make their way through this ever-shifting maze of a city, a city that is actively hunting them down, herding them toward a shocking destiny.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Spokane, Wash., is under military lockdown, evacuated and quarantined for reasons kept mysterious. Dean Walker sneaks into the city, determined to document the phenomena in what he hopes will be stunning photographs that will earn him fame while revealing the truth to the outside world. Instead, he immediately lands in trouble and finds shelter with a small group of holdouts struggling to regain their normal lives—not easy to do as the city crumbles around them, people disappear in an instant, impossible creatures roam the streets, time goes freaky, and bodies fuse with solid objects. Gropp’s promising debut is taut SF-tinged horror told primarily in vivid descriptions of Dean’s photos. Lots of theories are tossed around about the source of the problem, but there are no concrete answers, and there’s little examination of the anomalies themselves; readers will have to be content with well-drawn psychological portraits of realistically flawed people trapped in a rapidly degenerating terrifying mess. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel & Goderich Literary. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

A Library Journal Best SF/F Book of 2012
A Locus Magazine 2012 Recommended Reading List selection.
“A chilling, surreal, terrifying, beautiful book . . . an impressive and promising debut.”—Caitlín R. Kiernan, author of The Drowning Girl
“One of the most exciting and accomplished debuts I’ve read in years, Bad Glass welds the eerie, atmospheric horror of Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves to the transgressive apocalyptic vibe of Samuel R. Delany’s classic Dhalgren.”—Paul Witcover, author of Waking Beauty

“(A) promising debut … with well-drawn psychological portraits of realistically flawed people.”
Publishers Weekly, notable book

"The terror of this dark fantasy lies in Gropp’s grotesque creatures, who are grounded in reality...Bad Glass is a disturbing yet immensely entertaining story." —Romance Times (4 1/2 Star review)

"Well-drawn and utterly believable characters...Anyone who enjoys thoughtful fantasies will find much to celebrate here."
—Library Journal (starred review)

Library Journal
The military are evacuating Spokane, WA, and no one knows why. But the Internet shows video clips of impossible creatures and images that seem to violate the laws of physics. When photographer Dean Walker sneaks into the nearly abandoned city, hoping to find the "perfect shot," he discovers a hidden society of people who refuse to abandon their homes. Accepted into a group of young people led by an enigmatic and troubled woman named Taylor, Dean begins to question the actions of the military and attempts to uncover the truth behind mysterious events that grow stranger daily. With its well-drawn and utterly believable characters, Gropp's award-winning debut, which demonstrates a keen artistic sensibility and a deft ability to create an atmosphere of both danger and beauty, is reminiscent of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves as well as Samuel Delany's novels about individuals caught up in inexplicable events. VERDICT Anyone who enjoys thoughtful fantasies will find much to celebrate here. [Gropp was the grand prize winner of Del Rey's Suvudu Writing Contest.—Ed.]

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

This is the photograph you know:
The soldier’s shirt has been torn open. There are bloodred trenches scoured across his flesh—gouge marks, the work of his own fingernails. And there, right in the middle of his chest, is an arm sprouting up from his breastbone. It’s a thin white arm—sickly pale, like something that’s never seen the sun—reaching up through a puckered, jellied wound, protruding all the way up to the bicep. It looks like the whole arm has been punched up through the man’s body, slammed through from the floor at his back. But the wound is small—too small for such violence.
The arm is bent slightly at the elbow—a crooked tree sprouting up from the dead man’s chest. The wrist does not hang limp. Instead, it is cocked back, the gore-streaked fingers splayed with tension. Teardrops of blood hang from sharpened fingernails.
The soldier’s head is tilted back as far as it will go, the tendons in his neck as taut as a hangman’s rope. His expression is pure agony. His eyes are open, staring at the wall behind him.
The floor is solid concrete. The parts we can see are smooth and unblemished. And there is nothing—save that one horrifying limb—to suggest that there is anything beneath the room, anything except more concrete, earth, and rock.
It is insanity, printed and framed. Pure insanity.
The photograph is real.
I should know. I took the damn thing.

Meet the Author

Richard E. Gropp lives on a mountain outside of Seattle with his partner of fifteen years. It is a small mountain. He studied literature and psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has worked as a bookstore clerk, a forklift driver, and an accountant. He has a hard time spelling the word broccoli, and in his spare time he dabbles in photography and cooking.

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Bad Glass 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a huge disappointment. It started off with a great premise, but it became a disjointed mess quickly. You never find out what the hell happened to the characters or even what was behind the happenings.  A total let-down of a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book received four stars from me for one reason alone, The imagery. Mr. Gropp provided allowed me to actually feel the story, the pictures the main character dean took, as well as the place he visited. My issue lied not necessarily in the main story, though most events were short and confined to the few page chapters, my issue stuck with the climax. Or well all of the climaxes. Each chapter beginning with a description of a picture or an event that would be taken or take place later on in the chapter led up to a sort of climax each chapter that afterwards immediately began building up to the next climax over and over finally leading to the end which left me feeling numb and without closure on the story. The book is indeed a page turner full of odd clues and mystery but when jigsaw is over the puzzle is left a few pieces short of something spectacular. But the fact that he kept me turning over and over until I had the book finished hours after buying it earns him 4 stars.