Thursday, November 24, 2016

My Generations Shall Praise, by Samantha Henderson

Find this issue
(SF) A woman on death row is offered a fortune for her children if she'll let another woman take over her body. (5,441 words; Time: 18m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Intense, creepy, and full of twists
Recommended By: GDozois:5 RHorton:4

"My Generations Shall Praise," by (edited by Andy Cox), appeared in issue 267, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The heart of the plot is the narrator's desire to provide for her child and Helen's desire to use her money to extend her life. The story steadily builds up the idea that the narrator really does want to take care of her descendants, and the fear that Helena intends to exploit them for generations to come. By killing herself, she deprives Helena of a body but still delivers the benefit to her child.

There's a lot of tension as we approach the point where she planned to kill her daughter. We're relieved that she can't do it, and it even makes her more sympathetic. It's at least as intense as we approach her suicide at the end. It's a little odd for a first-person narrative to end with a suicide, but the text makes us believe it.

In Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, Jarndyce v. Jarndyce is a fictional lawsuit over an inheritance which drags on for generations until the entire value of the estate is consumed by the legal costs. In "My Generations Shall Praise," there is also an inheritance: the one Helena proposes to leave to Cece. The Jarndyce procedure would ensure that the descendants didn't benefit from it.

Con: None of the characters is sympathetic. We're relieved that the narrator makes the sacrifice she does, but it still doesn't make her into a hero.

Helena was foolish to leave that loophole that allowed the narrator to commit suicide without penalty.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 267)
Samantha Henderson Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Another strong story from this issue. The narrator may not be sympathetic as such, but there are little flashes of what made her and what she could have been that make her very real and understandable.

  2. I rate this story ★★★★★, one more than RSR. The twisted thinking of the anti-hero is scarily believable and the plot is impressively airtight (we blame the loophole on Helena, not the author). It's nice that RSR pointed out Jarndyce from Bleak House because it's an unusual name but I was too lazy to look it up with a web search.