The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, (March 2023, Blackstone Publishing), $18.99, ISBN: 9781665047036
An anthology that puts the science in science fiction, The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie brings together 20 stories by standout names – Jane Yolen, Scott Sigler, and Jonathan Maberry, to name a few – who spin dark stories about Nobel Prize winning physicist Marie Curie. Driven largely by the childhood losses of her mother and sister, the stories and poetry in Hitherto dream of scenarios that formed Curie. Set in her young adolescence, there are dark tales, supernatural tales, and straight-up unnerving tales, with several mainstays: Curie’s break with religion, the Russian occupation of her beloved Poland, and her dedication to science and learning. Stories are rooted in science, and many include Science Notes to clarify the divergence of fact and fiction. Run from the whimsical, like Alethea Kontis’s “Marya’s Monster”, where Curie confronts the literal monster under her bed with level-headedness, to the bittersweet, as with Seanan McGuire’s “Uncrowned Kings”, where Curie battles the disease-carrying beast that’s infected her town. Stories like Henry Herz’s “Cheating Death” take a turn into horror, where Curie’s obsession with halting Death leads her to disturbing experimentation, and Christine Taylor-Butler’s “Retribution” is a science murder mystery (minus the mystery).
Every single story here is an excellent read, with something for dark fantasy, horror, and thriller fans alike. Science fans will rejoice at having Marie Curie front and center in her own adventures (I know I did), and resources for further reading keeps the momentum going, with books about Curie, women in STEM, and websites to explore. An excellent choice for YA collections.