Glorious Plague, by Karen Heuler
Publisher: Permuted Press
Author: Karen Heuler
Overall Review: 4/5 – Very Good
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
As Karen is more of a plot person than a character person, her unique way of writing shows through in most of her work. Her short stories have been published by many successful magazines including Albedo One, Clarkesworld, Cemetery Dance and Fantasy Magazine. Her work has featured in The Year’s Best SF anthology #17 and her books, The Made-Up Man, Journey to Bom Goody, The Soft Room and The Other Door have been well received by readers and critics alike.
In Glorious Plague, a virus gets into the bodies of humans, but it is an unusual one that influences people in a very strange way. When they are infected, they become instantly happy, singing and running around as if they have been possessed by an angelic force which has them leaping happily to their deaths. Several residents of Manhattan have to try and find some semblance of normality as this is happening all around them. While one man searches for a cure to the Glorious Plague, another is still in search for his missing daughter and it is proving harder than ever to find her in the chaos around him. What makes this story much more peculiar than the ones I am used to reading is that your belief systems play a large role in how you take this story. The mere sight of Christ appearing and lugging his wooden cross around like Obelix with his menhir is odd enough, but so is a man marrying a mermaid and Ganesh, the Hindu god of luck, running for mayor.
As far as I am concerned, it is this peculiarity of different gods in odd situations that makes this so original and interesting. It does grab your attention and deserves to be read for this reason. What is really interesting is that while all the strangeness is going on with different gods doing things they wouldn’t normally do, the ordinary people of the city don’t notice it or even think it is strange. They see it as normal and every day. If you have ever researched the various gods and goddesses of the major mythologies, you might notice that the ones in here don’t necessarily act the way they should, and that makes it all the more funny.