Thursday, February 7, 2019

Blood, Bone, Seed, Spark, by Aimee Ogden

★★★★★ Shattering

(High Fantasy Horror) Anell takes a job with a great house researching immortality, but she secretly works on her own research involving reproduction. (9,732 words; Time: 32m)

This story is not for the faint of heart.

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 271, published on .

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

Review: 2019.099 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Anell’s great goal is to cheat death by creating an immortal child. Toward that end, she’s willing to sacrifice everything. This story essentially tells us how she did so and what it cost her.

Here are the sacrifices I counted:

  1. Her home and her family in Camrain, when she crosses the ocean seeking patronage.
  2. Her integrity, both when she deceives the Countess about her secret project and when she deceives her lover to steal his sperm.
  3. Her youth, spending years and years of fruitless research and leaving little time for herself.
  4. Her fertility, giving up any hope of future children in exchange for life-long support from the House.
  5. Her lover, when she lets her creation eat him, knowing that that’s the only thing that has kept it from being a real child.

Despite all this, Anell isn’t a horrible person. She kept the half-formed child around because she couldn’t bear to kill it. She had real love and affection for Arantha. We know she had moments when she missed her family in Camrain. She’s not a psychopath; she’s just so driven that accepts the pain from her sacrifices.

The setting is pretty cool too. The mix of magic with ~18th Century technology works pretty well, and the exploration of what it might have been like had the early theories about sperm and eggs containing tiny human being really been true. The shocking moment when the female animalcule eats the male one was worth the price of admission all by itself.

Con: No one else in the story besides Anell has much of an agenda. She’s the only complete character in it.

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