REVIEW: “Helix” by Britt Foster

Review of Britt Foster, “Helix”, Luna Station Quarterly 46 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

“Project Chimera had gone on for fifty years and billions of dollars had poured into its evolution.” It was supposed to be “the pinnacle of human achievement,” and yet instead, Dr. Magdalena Santos is told that the project is being such down, with immediate effect, leaving her in charge of destroying the project’s assets.

It takes a very special scientist to destroy the results of a research project, especially one that had been going so well, and the question the story revolves around is: Is Dr. Santos one of those special ones? Or, if she isn’t, will she get away with it? On the one hand, it’s clear that we’re meant to root for her to not destroy the assets. On the other hand, it’s not at all clear that those who want to shut the project down are in the wrong. The delightful tension between these two threads means that the ending is not entirely comfortable at all.