Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Mysterious Study of Doctor Sex, by Tamsyn Muir


(Future Fantasy Mystery) Two young students are attached to a team reopening Dr. Sex’s study after 400 years. But someone seems to have got in 200 years ago and left his or her skeleton there. (8,632 words; Time: 28m)

"," by (edited by Carl Engle-Laird), published on by .

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

Review: 2020.403 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s a very complex world with a combination of high technology, like screens, plus magic. Also, the action seems to take place on a space station, given their concerns with vacuum and such.

Con: The first quarter of the story is confusing and crushingly dull. It drowns us with jargon particular to the setting without giving us enough about the characters or the plot to make it worth trying to understand.

The basic plot is hard to get excited about: a team of researchers looking into a room sealed for 400 years finds bones that are only 200 years old. Not very exciting, not very urgent.

And in the end, after Palamedes figures it all out—so what? He uncovered an old piece of paper, and we don’t even find out what was written on it.

On a minor note, it’s not believable that these kids are 13 unless the unit of time is a good bit longer than an Earth year.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Conditional - if you have read the novel by Tamsyn Muir - Gideon the Ninth, then this is a 4.5 star story. The last line just punches you emotionally and takes your breath away.

    Set several years before the events of the novel Gideon the Ninth, but told by Camilla after the events of the novel (time lapse Un-specified).

    If you have NOT read the novel, then I agree - a 2-star story. Regrettably, you do need to have read the first novel to get the context this story fits into.

    I loved the novel Gideon the Ninth. I finished it and then read this novelette, and then went on to read Harrow the Ninth. I waited until I had finished the second novel before I typed this up. You need to read the novels in order - Gideon first, then Harrow.

    I read this novelette between the first and second book, and that seems to have worked. I think you can read the novelette after you have read Gideon and Harrow as well. For fans of the novels - In Harrow the Ninth, page 417 of the hardback or Act 5, Chapter 47 - the stay at the farm with the gift of roses is mentioned in the past tense. This being the contents of the first letter in the novelette which seems to have been recently written.

    I think this novelette is part of a much larger picture going on in the novels, and anyone who liked the novels will probably really like and want to read this.

    Regards your negative about the age of the children, both Palamedes and Camilla are child prodigies, and the world they live in is pretty weird and very scary.

    My best guess as to who the "darling girl" is in the second letter is that the recipient is Cassiopeia, because she was also from the Sixth House - same as where the story takes place.

    Nearly everyone in the story has a surname that is a variant of the number of their house. "Sex" is Latin for six.

    1. Thanks for these notes, June. I've read Gideon and just read this story, but haven't gotten to Harrow yet. I'm more intrigued to get to the next book now!