The Sire — Steve Rasnic Tem


If Jonathan Swift ever wrote an Immodest Proposal, this would be it.  It is beyond shocking, and I shall have to be very careful what I tell you about it, and not only  because of the fear of normal  plot spoilers to which most reviews are susceptible, but also of a series of multiple  false Braxton Hicks. Natural childbirth alone. Moments of pregnancy’s hatching that would trip you up or diminish the healing shocks and leave you only the destructive ones. So this review hides things from you. Otherwise you would miss out on its full effect as Paula takes to living in her new rented abode as hung with folk horror omens,  and she is bearing the pent-up ripening fruits of a one night stand with the eponymous-sired man, and we end up with the severest possible polarity of Natalism and Anti-Natalism: “…the insatiable appetite of nature as mothers delivered both life and death into the world.” — being the only quote I shall dare give you from this work’s transcendence versus horror-apotheosis.

But, suddenly, I feel another quote from it is shortly to drop upon your reading care or scare, before I can stop it, as the father’s return-to-cull for a metaphorical Irish famine, and he  leaves one of them that might have fallen off (Paula wasn’t sure): one who, I think, grows faster than even the utter polarity I have already described above grows, if with a mouthless speech like these printed words tend to be. Balanced within the polarity, I guess, by almost a cartoon glimpse of a Watership Down type thing, where any happy bits may be embodied by a Mr Rabbit. Review avoidances of my responsibility aside, I can say without hesitation that this story has a truly truly unmatchable “scythe of arm” in its sweeping prose. Can’t say more.


This story can be found here: Mother: Tales of Love & Terror, eds. Christi Nogle and Willow Dawn Becker, October 2022

My reviews of Steve Rasnic Tem’s multi-hatching fictions over the years:

My ongoing reviews of such recent stories, one by one, by living writers:

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