The Falling Crystal Palace by Carl Fuerst
Planet Bizarro, February 2023
The residents of Sterling, Indiana don’t know who they are. They can’t recognize voices on the telephone. They can’t recognize faces in the mirror. When their name is called, they don’t respond. When they flip through family photo albums, it’s like looking at strangers. Sixty-one-year-old Tory Stebbins runs a one-person Identity Verification agency that can help. But, as the town implodes, so does her business. She has fewer clients, stiffer competition, and her methods have become mysteriously ineffective. Tory is broke, lonely, and—most alarmingly—she’s now suffering from the same problems she’s helped her clients with over the length of her career. Just when her situation seems beyond hope, Tory receives a cryptic message from Hoppy Bashford, her best friend who disappeared forty years earlier. Tory’s quest to rescue Hoppy leads her through the strange, shifting landscapes. With the help of her odd intern, her bitter business rival, and her astrophysicist ex-wife, Tory ultimately follows Hoppy’s trail to the Crystal Palace Resort. To locate her lost friend, escape from the resort, and find a cure for the identity-scrambling, reality-bending condition from which everyone in her world suffers, Tory must come to terms with who she is.