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Ulrike Schmitzer: Die Stille der Gletscher.

de    en    fr    span    cz

The Silence of the Glaciers
Vienna: Edition Atelier, 2017.
144 p.; Hardcover; 18 Euros.
ISBN 978-3-903005-25-9.

Ulrike Schmitzer


Ulrike Schmitzer does not beat around the bush. She heads straight into the exciting world of glacier research. Quite by chance the first-person narrator, a photographer, who is documenting the dramatic retreat of the ice masses for an environmental organisation, finds herself drawn into the discovery of a gigantic conspiracy concerning the illegal storing of water. This involves the highly diverse interests that are to be found in the Austrian Alps. The photographer sees and documents everything in a sober way. Together with a professor emeritus and a glacier archaeologist she discovers a serious crime which affects the future of the whole of humanity. But whichever way the three investigators turn they encounter a network of intrigues. One last hope to stop the disastrous activities and make them public is a journey to Iceland, where Erik, the photographer's son and himself a researcher, will gain them access to a worldwide press conference. But even there everything turns out differently.

Ulrike Schmitzer narrates with a great deal of feeling for creating tension. On the one hand she reports facts and specific data and on the other she develops these imaginatively into monstrous fictions, which nevertheless create a credible effect. There is talk of (Venetian) gondolas on reservoirs, of spectacular events that will make use of machines and be held on the last remains of the glaciers for a society totally aloof from the real world. She uses such scenarios to prepare us for a cleverly thought-out coup to steal water all over the world.

The shady sides of research are overdrawn to exactly the right extent to produce a good thriller. Nevertheless the way modern science is forced to be dependent on those providing the money is just as real as the need for scientists to present themselves to the public as sleek showmen in order to justify costly research.

This experienced author has already demonstrated in her other novels how a non-fictional topic can be presented in an exciting manner, and in this novel she has also done this with outstanding success.

Abridged version of the review by Beatrice Simonsen, 20 February 2017.
English translation by
Leigh H. Bailey.

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