Terraform, so when one dropped at the very end of October, I missed covering it. Well, I’m making up for it now. And while Halloween might be come and gone, this story definitely keeps the blood-chilling atmosphere of the season alive and well. Looking at contagion, at bodies in revolt, and at the failure of humans to regulate and moderate themselves, to deadly and disastrous effect. It’s grim, and it’s rather terrifying, and I’ll get right to my review!
“Twinning” by Geoff Manaugh (8526 words)
No Spoilers: Told skipping back and forth through time, from 1995 to 2022, this piece follows a bit of a mystery, a bit of a horror, one that begins as an art history project tracing a unique sculpture in southern Germany and ends with, well, an outbreak of something truly horrible on a Mediterranean island. The piece grows out of...unscrupulous behavior, from the art history student taking money to further a rich man’s strange fascination to a geneticist hoping to uncover buried knowledge but not willing to go through the “proper” channels. The work is about a failure of diligence, a failure of decency, and a nightmarish triumph of selfishness and corruption and greed. There are some heavy body horror elements, too, so tread carefully, and be aware this is a visceral, unsettling read.
Keywords: Conjoined Twins, Art, History, CW- Diseases, Seas, Pollution
Review: I love how the story moves according to the whims of self interest. No one asks enough questions, hesitates enough when it comes to examining what they should do. For me, that more than anything drives the story. That, I guess, and bad luck. But luck alone only sort of loads the gun. Someone always pulls the trigger. Sarah and her search for answers. The geneticist looking to resurrect this terrifying disease. The brother dumping waste in the sea. The Canadian running to safety, knowing he’s already been infected. I like how that plays out, looking at the ways that people don’t want to take responsibility for things. Sarah is given money to dig into the past. So she does. And she doesn’t see any harm talking about what she found with the geneticist. Who in turn doesn’t see the problem with looking into this disease that died out. It existed once, and he’s taking precautions. They are fairly reasonable things, but underneath them is the fascinating with his rather grisly iconography, biology, and virology. Which aren’t perhaps malevolent on their own, but that do seem like they might give people some...pause. And instead seem to inspire a deeper meddling. Like in the middle of the revulsion there’s also a fascination that drives them. The same kind that was used to justify Nazi experiments with twins, which is among the atrocities this story knits together. And I think it is a very effective horror story, one that speaks to that part of ourselves that worries about splitting, about something growing inside us, of being destroyed by ourselves. As indeed most of these people (and perhaps the entire world if this is just the start of a pandemic) are destroyed by the malignance of others, the unchecked growth of people inadvertently or intentionally working against the best interests of the global population, through unethical research, pollution, and breaking quarantine. And it makes for a creeping, chilling, and wonderful read!