Years ago, Margaret Pomeranz complained to David Straton on The Movie Show (when they were still on SBS and I was still in Australia) that filmmakers were making increasingly and unreasonably long movies which with tighter editing and smarter plots could easily fit into a 75 minute production. I could echo those words about books these days. Not only are many overly long, they persistently spill over into unending sequels. This irritant is my only beef with Glow.
The Empyrean is a large spaceship on its way from a dystopian Earth to a distant planet, a journey that will take it decades. Its denizens are buoyed by the vision of saving the human race, especially its young who in late adulthood would ostensibly colonize the planet they called New Earth. Life for teenagers on the ship is painted in scenes that we would recognize. They play, hang-out and date although they help out with their parent’s hydroponic gardens and face the pressure of reproducing early to overcome issues of lowered fertility in deep space. The torpor of life on The Empyrean is disrupted when it suddenly encounters The New Horizon, its sister ship in the middle of a nebula. Why has The New Horizon, which ought to be years ahead of The Empyrean, decelerated to allow the second ship to catch up to it? When people on board The Empyrean get an inkling of their sister ship’s sinister intentions, it’s already too late to reverse events that will have devastating effects on all their lives.
This was a really quick read. The premise of Glow is appealing and I empathized deeply with its anti-religious message although Ryan attempts to balance the portrayal by pitching it more like a debate between whether religion saves or skewers. I don’t know how much YA science fiction is out there but this is definitely a worthy addition to the genre. I didn’t read into the language too much but some lines made me laugh. Listen to this one from the seventeen-year-old protagonist’s rousing sermon:
“Humankind will not recede into the darkness. The journey is long, the mission is difficult, some say impossible, but we will prevail. There will come a time when children gather around a fire and look at stars unknown to us. They will remember our sacrifices. And our names will fill their songs.”
I suppose it’s alright given that the book’s intended audience will be more interested in whether the book’s dashing captain in waiting gets to be with his damsel in distress. But, that’s where Glow becomes interesting. This isn’t a boy rescues girl story at all.
With sharper editing, Glow could have been conclusively ended in one book. Sadly, the gleam or should I say glow of the trilogy beckons.
I prefer the version of the cover on the right. The one above looks like a perv hole in a restroom.