Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review of "Dalston Junction," short story by MeiLin Miranda



Summary:
Unwed motherhood in Victorian England spells the end--your chances of marrying, chances even of working, disappear. Unless you can somehow "disappear" the evidence...

That's where "baby farmers" Amelia and Margaret come in. They'll care for your unwanted infant--for a fee.

But what are they really doing with the babies? When the police find dozens of tickets for pawned baby clothes and no evidence of the babies themselves, Amelia and Margaret become wanted women, and the life of a newborn hangs in the balance.

Review:
**WARNING! This review contains spoilers**

An very interesting story by Miranda.  I had to read it through twice to catch everything.  Both times I feel like there are some strong pros and cons.

Miranda can certainly write short stories well.  She understands how to provide elaborate description and character traits using minimalistic wording.  The plot flows well and I felt compelled to keep reading to find out how everything turns out.

There is a twist at the end of this story.  I really thought about whether or not I wanted to disclose it in this review but I feel that I should in order to really describe why I'm conflicted.  Basically the twist is that our two protagonists are time travelers.  Essentially, they pose as baby farmers in the 19th century, take the infant into the future and then put the baby up for adoption where childless people are looking for healthy newborns... I think.

This is really my major beef with the story: how the heck are these two women making money from this business?  The actual nature of their scheme remains frustratingly vague.  Is there a huge market for these babies in the future?  Are people suddenly unable to procreate and are willing to pay a fortune for a child?  Are there no adoptable children available in the future?  

Plus, as an avid Star Trek watcher, I feel the need to wonder what impact this would have on the timeline.  So they're saving children and taking them to the future.  What if one of those kids was the ancestor of Gandhi?

I get the story that the author was trying to tell.  And she certainly has a compelling style of writing.  But if one is concluding a story using a time travel element, there needs to be a clear reason as to why.  Even if the protagonists are totally profit driven, I have no idea what the future is like in this author's world.  As a reader, I need to have a sense of what kind of world those women are trying to make a living in. 

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this short story on Amazon.

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