PseudoPod 542: That Only a Mother

by Judith Merril

 

“That Only a Mother” was originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1948. It appears here with appreciation through the assistance of the Virginia Kidd Agency.

JUDITH MERRILL was an American and then Canadian science fiction writer, editor and political activist, and one of the first women to be widely influential in those roles. In her mid-teens, Merril pursued Zionism and Marxism. According to Virginia Kidd’s introduction to The Best of Judith Merril, Ethel Grossman had been a suffragette, was a founder of the women’s Zionist organization Hadassah, and was “a liberated female frustrated at every turn by the world in which she found herself.” Judith Merril began writing professionally, especially short stories about sports, starting in 1945, before publishing her first science-fiction story in 1948. Her story “Dead Center” (1954) is one of only two stories taken from any science fiction or fantasy magazine for the Best American Short Stories volumes edited by Martha Foley in the 1950s. According to science fiction scholar Rob Latham, “throughout the 1950s, Merril, along with fellow SF authors James Blish and Damon Knight had taken the lead in promoting higher literary standards and a greater sense of professionalism within the field.” As an initiator of the New Wave movement, she edited the 1968 anthology England Swings SF. From the mid-1970s until her death, Merril spent much time in the Canadian peace movement, including traveling to Ottawa dressed as a witch in order to hex Parliament for allowing American cruise missile testing over Canada. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA renamed) made Merril its Author Emeritus for 1997 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted her in 2013.

This week’s reader – Dagny Paul – is a teacher, writer, failed artist, comic book geek, and associate editor/occasional host of Pseudopod. She is guest editor for Pseudopod’s Artemis Rising 3 event in 2017.

She lives in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana. Follow her on Twitter for no good reason @dagnypaul. Listen to her story “There is No Road Through the Woods” on Pseudopod.


Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.


A well-known geneticist, in the medical news, said that it was possible to tell with absolute certainty, at five months, whether the child would be normal, or at least whether the mutation was likely to produce anything freakish. The worst cases, at any rate, could be prevented. Minor mutations, of course, displacements in facial features, or changes in brain structure could not be detected. And there had been some cases recently, of normal embryos with atrophied limbs that did not develop beyond the seventh or eighth month. But, the doctor concluded cheerfully, the worst cases could now be predicted and prevented.

Pseudopod 479: ARTEMIS RISING Women In Horror Showcase: Like Dolls

by J Lily Corbie

Like Dolls started as a meditation on the other side of the ‘wailing on your grave’ subgenre of folk music, such as I Am Stretched on Your Grave and The Unquiet Grave. Not only is Like Dolls a Pseudopod original, but also the author’s first professional publication sale. PseudoPod couldn’t be prouder to introduce you to this author.

J Lily Corbie lives in Oklahoma with two dogs and two cats, where she’s a government lackey by day and a writer by night. She can be found on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, and she blogs erratically at girlserrant.wordpress.com including updates and news regarding her short stories looking for homes and a novel in the revision process.

Your narrator – Kim Lakin-Smith is a Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy author whose short stories feature in Interzone, Black Static, Behind the Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who, Best British Fantasy 2013, Sharkpunk, The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, and more. She is the author of gothic science fantasy, Tourniquet, and YA novels, Queen Rat and Autodrome. Her novel, Cyber Circus, was shortlisted for both the BSFA Best Novel and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel 2012.

With a background in dance and performance, she has narrated stories for Dark Fiction Magazine, Word Punk, Tales to Terrify, PseudoPod, and PodCastle. You can follow her on Twitter at @thegifairy

Your guest audio producer – Chelsea Davis is a scholar of Gothic fiction. She’s currently at work on a dissertation about supernatural war literature. In her spare time, she produces radio, & gets a huge kick out of reading killer Pseudopod submissions as an Associate Editor.

Your guest host – Marguerite Kenner is a native Californian who has forsaken sunny paradise to be with her true love and live in Merrye Olde England. She frequently wears so many hats that she needs two heads. When she’s not grappling with legal conundrums as a trainee solicitor or editing Cast of Wonders, she can be found narrating audio fiction, studying popular culture (i.e. going to movies and playing video games) with her partner Alasdair Stuart, or curling up with a really good book. You can follow her at her personal blog, Project Valkyrie, or on Twitter via @LegalValkyrie.

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I am awake. Through the trappings of a funeral and the clods of earth raining upon me, I am aware. When my father kneels at my headstone and calls me his willful girl, I hear him. When Meredith weeps and lays poppies on my grave, I know. When they are gone, I am at rest.

The dark is absolute. I know my eyes are open–curious fingers encounter the wet resistance of eye, feel the brush of eyelashes with each blink. I suffer neither thirst nor hunger, and though my chest still fills and empties, I want for nothing. I am somnolent, content with my eternity.

Only Bastian’s voice interrupts my peace.

At the service, he threw himself across my coffin and wailed. He wasn’t mourning–he was claiming my funeral with his grief. Now he lays himself along my grave. He weeps and he laments, and I feel his weight through earth and wood. I am reminded, time and again, that not even my death belongs to me.