by Michaela Roessner
Review by Gayle Surrette
Venture Press Kindle Edition ISBN/ITEM#: B01B7MLOAE
Date: 28 January 2016
Vanishing Point by Michaela Roessner was first published in the UK in 1993. On reading it for the first time in 2016, I have to say that it stands up well -- the science within the book is just the perfect level of simple explanations to stand up to the continuing research and conjecture of parallel worlds and quantum effects. It's a mystery wrapped in a conundrum, and seasoned with physics and DNA analysis.
One morning twenty-nine years before the story begins, people all over the globe woke up to find that 90% of the world's population had disappeared. They were gone - no notes, no packed bags, no sounds in the night that might have woken those who were left behind. It's called the Vanishing. Since that night, those who were left have tried to come up with theories, and so there's been fragmentation and religious zealotry, with each group acting within the system of belief they've come to accept explains the disappearances. However, none of these theories explains why children born after the Vanishing have strangely colored hair.
Renzie and her brother, Tuck, live in the House (the Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California) which is always being added to, always under construction -- still. There's a community of people who live in the House and work with the Hackers and other groups that have settled nearby. Everyone is excited and worried about an overdue researcher coming out to them from the East Coast, as travel is not safe.
The researcher arrives but isn't quite the person they expected. She's got her own ideas for research, and they don't quite line up with the ones they hoped she'd continue with. This creates some tension, adding to that which is already ramping up because of a multi-group fair that is being hosted by the local groups, and the many unknown people are going to be coming in and setting up in their area for the duration of the fair.
The characters are fully developed and readers will get to care about them and what happens to them. The setting after the Vanishing is pretty much what would be expected after such an astounding event, leaving so many without family, spouse, mother, father, sister, or brother. It's now a world where all children are taught to survive on their own just in case another event occurs. There's some pretty wacky cults out there but none that seem all that incredible based on those that exist today.
The story is compelling and will no doubt hold the attention of readers as they, like the characters, have access to the clues and must pull them together to figure out what happened and what is still happening. There were a few issues that bothered me but, accept the premise and just go with it, since the novel is internally self-consistent. It's a post-apocalypse with far more hope than such books usually have, and with most people keeping their sense of fellowship alive in the face of adversity.