Thursday, June 4, 2020

Ten Excerpts From an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island, by Nibedita Sen

Nightmare, May 2019

This is an odd one, a horror story in the form of an academic annotated bibliography, about an island of cannibal women and the consequences of their first contact with the British, in 1893.

Much of the population gets wiped out, possibly because the British noticed they were cannibals. and two young girls are brought back to England. They're sent to a girls' boarding school, the Churchill School, and seem to be adjusting really well, until they reach seventeen. "The Churchill Dinner" is one of the first really alarming references.

We get, over the next few pages, a succession of brief excerpts from academic papers over the years down to 2017. In these, we see both the bewilderment and confusion of the "civilized" people, and confusion and frustration of the descendants of those two "rescued" girls, finding that they don't quite fit in anywhere, with brown skins, Ratnabari eating preferences, English clothing, and English language.

I think it's very good, but I can't quite connect with it. It's a story I probably wouldn't have read at all, if it weren't a Hugo finalist.

I received this story as part of the Hugo Voters packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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