cover image The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie

The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Henry Herz. Blackstone, $18.99 (358p) ISBN 978-1-6650-4703-6

Via myriad fantastical situations boasting magic, supernatural creatures, and time travel, 20 chilling short stories and poems by authors including Sarah Beth Durst, Jonathan Maberry, Jo Whittemore, and others center pioneering physicist Marie Curie (1867–1934), born Marya Salomea Skłodowska. The anthology kicks off with background information on Curie’s life and a history of late 19th- and early 20th-century Poland, providing enriching context for the stories that follow. Jane Yolen’s entry, “Dark Lady, Salomea,” imagines the scientist’s thoughts on her innovations’ consequences in concise verse (“Do the lives lost, gained,/ weigh equal in your heart?/ Or do you just polish/ the medals and move on”). In “Mayra’s Monster,” Alethea Kontis sees Curie contending with a monster sent from the enigmatic darkness to frighten her. Some stories delve into Curie’s personal experiences, while others primarily spotlight her scientific endeavors as seen through the lens of sci-fi and fantasy buffs. Despite the volume’s genre-spanning fare, entries can feel somewhat narratively repetitive. Nevertheless, contributors coherently spin tales that ambitiously explore themes of grief, loss, occupation and oppression, and systemic misogyny. Those inspired by Curie’s accomplishments will find much to enjoy in this intriguing work. Ages 12–17. (Apr.)