The Only Harmless Great Thing is a heart-wrenching alternative history by Brooke Bolander that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants.
In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island.
These are the facts.
Now these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.
Vada’s To-Do List:
- Turn 18 (check!) - Register super name - Order supersuit - Attend superhero indoctrination - Graduate high school - Start kicking criminal tail
Vada Lawson can’t wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she’s been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.
Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?
Somehow, with the help — and hindrance — of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear…and ruins her superhero debut.
The September issue features interviews with Matt Ruff and Karin Tidbeck, a column by Cory Doctorow, an obituary and appreciations of Brian Aldiss, lists of forthcoming books through June 2018, and reviews of short fiction and books by Annalee Newitz, Josh Malerman, Kat Howard, Linda Nagata, and many others.