REVIEW: “Grork Dentist” by Johanna Levene

Review of Johanna Levene, “Grork Dentist”, Luna Station Quarterly 38 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is not the first dentist story I’ve read for SFFReviews. Whoever knew that there were enough dentist stories out there that this could be a thing? (The other was “Toothache” by Jessica Walsh) Since I know dentists are not everyone’s jam, consider this your fair warning that there are teeth involved.

Dentists are definitely not Melissa’s jam, either, but when your own dentist is on vacation for a month and you need that root canal now, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to consider going to an alien dentist.

At one layer, this story was light and humoristic, and I laughed out loud at various times. On another, though, as I read of how the grorks spent their time educating humans out of their biases and prudishness (regarding sex, regarding polyamory, regarding aliens, regarding proper pronouns) and doing charity and pro-bono work amongst the poor, I couldn’t help but see yet another instance of a minority being asked to shoulder all the emotional burden of trying to convince the majority to not be so… -ist. Sexist. Classist. Speciesist. Or so -phobic. This story valorises the foreigner who comes in and does everything right, and places all the burden of doing so on them, and I ended up finding that a bit uncomfortable.

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