Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Rabbit Test, by Samantha Mills

Uncanny Magazine, Issue #49, 2022

In this rather dark short story, we follow the troubles of Grace, whom we meet as an 18-year-old girl who has gotten pregnant, in a late 21st century society where technology has been weaponized to make it almost impossible for pregnancy to evade detection. She's not paranoid and careful enough to be able to terminate it before it's detected, and this basically eliminates most of her life choices.

In between parts of the story of Grace and her daughter, Olivia, we get bits about the history of pregnancy tests, including the iconic "rabbit test," as well as earlier tests, dating back to ancient times, many (but not all) of which were surprisingly effective. As society changed to put women more completely in the power of men, many of them became illegal, and termination, when available, also became illegal.

Grace and Olivia aren't the only women we get to know, at least a little bit, and none of these included stories are happy reading. It's a powerfully told story, but also dark, and hard to take, at least for me. The nonsequential telling of it gives a good understanding of the history of pregnancy detection, abortion, and the struggle for women to control their own bodies and make their own life decisions. I'm not sorry I read it, but honestly, if it weren't short, and weren't a finalist for the Hugo Awards 2023 Best Short Story, I probably wouldn't have finished it.

As in all things, make your own decision. (While it's still legal?)

I received this story as part of the 2023 Hugo Voters Packet.

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