Monday, June 13, 2016
Quick Sips - GigaNotoSaurus June 2016
June brings a rather heavy story to GigaNotoSaurus, one that builds a complex second world and fills it with war, intolerance, and hope. I'm fascinated by stories that tackle the very delicate ethics of medicine and trying to do good in the face of potentially losing patients. And the story does not look away from the blood, from the risk, from the layers of guilt and pain caused when medicine is something that is not valued or sanctified. It's a difficult story and not exactly a happy one, but it is good and I'm going to just review it already!
"Bronzeheart" by Lucy Stone (9639 words)
This story takes a hard look at care and risk and the responsibility of healing. And to me it's also about intolerance, distrust, and violence, and hope in the face of all of that, compassion in the face of all of that. It features Vesta, an older woman versed in the art of brassbones, the skill of grafting metal to flesh to replace damaged fingers, limbs, and lungs. It's something that's gotten her in trouble, because she finds herself stuck in a country where brassbones is illegal, where she is a criminal for her skills and beliefs. She has spent time in prison, is free only because of the hand of a wealthy patron. And she finds a man in her jewelers shop, the shop that is her cover, asking her to replace his heart. It's a difficult thing and complicated by promises that Vesta has made, promises she's not keen to break.
[SPOILERS!!!] And I love that the story features both the hope and the failure of her enterprise. Because both rest in equal measures in medicine, in surgery. Even the best of doctors occasionally lose a patient, and the story does not shy away from that. But it does examine the decision Vesta makes to perform the operation, which seems at first fairly uncomplicated until you look, until it is revealed just how complex the decision is. Not just for Vesta, who has to shoulder some of the risk, but for the man as well. For Nell, Vesta's assistant. For the man's mother. For Vesta's patron. Everyone is put at risk here and the question that is asked is "Is it worth it?" And first asked when the outcome is unknown, maybe even hopeful. And then asked when the truth sets in [SUPER SPOILERS!!!] that the operation fails, the man dies, and everything falls apart. Was the decision worth it? And the answer is, to me, no. But it was still the right thing to do. It's a complex place to be in, where there is no good decision. Where every turn is a betrayal. And it's a fine way to build the story and a fine read. Go check it out!