Review of Amelia Garland Mears, “Mercia, the Astronomer Royal” in A Brilliant Void: A Selection of Classic Irish Science Fiction, edited by Jack Fennell (Tramp Press, 2018): 79-103 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).
It’s amazing how modern a late 19th C story can feel. Here is the story of how Mercia, the Astronomer Royal, suffers sexual harassment at the hands of her boss (Emperor Felicitas). First she tries to resign her position to get away; and when he won’t allow her to resign and he lays his hands upon her, and she tries to rebuke him and protect herself, she is arrested on charges of attempted murder. Anxious to know how the trial will unfold, the Emperor visits a noted psychic who shows him scenes of the future — scenes that do not go well for the Emperor, though he does not know why. In an attempt to restore public favor to himself, he offers Mercia a pardon — a pardon which she refuses to accept because she has neither committed nor yet been convicted of a crime. In the end, the trial goes ahead and in a convenient plot twist Mercia is cleared of all charges and the emperor is disgraced.
I wonder what Mears would have made of the Blasey Ford/Kavanaugh investigation of 2018…
(This is an abridged extract of a novel originally published in 1895.)