by Zilla N.
Cass Neary of Generation Loss (by Elizabeth Hand) is the platonic ideal of a disaster bisexual. Women, men, plausible deniable otherworldly spirits, she will pick the most self-destructive option and run in full tilt. She is an unreliable narrator and honestly, she’s an unreliable human. And I adore her.
The story hangs on the edge of real and mystical. I was never quite sure if there was magic in the photographs, in the island, in Cass herself. The way she tastes damage on people is more than ordinary, but then, maybe she just leans in when she hears the siren call of death ideation. I almost regret that there was a mundane explanation presented as an option to solve the mystery. But there’s no requirement for me to choose that as canon.
And the art. Generation loss is what happens when you reproduce a photograph, and each copy is lower resolution and less sharp than the one before. It’s the perfect metaphor for the fading of the punk scene, for digital photography replacing film, for the passing of an era. From her art exhibition of Dead Girls to her analog film to the final collection of turtle prints, the things Cass loves best are gone or fading, and she’s the last one grasping at the memory of them.
Generation Loss is a memorial. It is dark, and tumultuous, and beautiful, a storm on the lake destroying everything in its wake.