Saturday, June 9, 2018

From the Root, by Emma Törzs

★★★★☆ Clever and Satisfying

(Historical Fantasy) The narrator, a young regenitrix in Victorian London, tries to help an older one have her baby. For a regenitrix swiftly regrows any lost body parts, but childbirth is always fatal. (6,654 words; Time: 22m)

"From the Root," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 97, published on .

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

Pro: The narrator doesn’t just want to save Marya’s life—she wants to prove herself a healer. It's gratifying that she accomplishes both goals.

Impressing the doctor matters to her enough to overcome her fears that he might make Marya die jut to get a body to dissect, and it’s a relief that he turns out to be as good as she trusts him to be.

Marya's goals are simple: she doesn’t want to die. Cooperating with the narrator ends up saving her life, although it's touch-and-go for a while there.

As for the doctor, he wants fame and (probably) fortune. He doesn’t scruple to harvest healthy teeth for his wealthy clients, but he draws the line at cutting the cord and killing Marya. From his writeup, he gains some measure of fame anyway, even if it's largely undeserved.

The horrible practice of extracting children’s teeth for (usually unsatisfactory) transplants was a real one in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries in England. Even at the time this was thought to be horrible, and it speaks poorly of the doctor that he's engaged in this.

Con: Much of the surprise was spoiled for me because I guessed what was going to happen as soon as the narrator described the outcome of her Caesarian experiment.

Marya implied the doctor was father of her baby, but the doctor certainly never acted as if he thought it possible.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 97)
Emma Törzs Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. This one didn't do much for me. I have a hard time reading stories set in the 19th century in general, because no one can match the writers of the period. On the down side, reading this is like trying to read a novel by Dickens' less talented cousin who is also drunk and horny. On the plus side, that's not as bad as it sounds.