Gushing Over “The Propagator” by Simone Kern

Want to read something amazing? So do I, and sometimes I stumble along something that grips me from beginning to end and then leaves me wanting more. These are the pieces I have to share with others. This week, that piece is from author Simone Kern, currently available on Metaphorosis Magazine. Entitled “The Propagator”, the read was heart wrenching. A real gut punch.

One of my fellow writers on Inkubator shared the short story and our group went ga-ga for it. I read it. Sat on it. Talked about it. Three days later, I’m still thinking about it, going back to individual scenes and characters. That’s powerful praise for a short story.

Kern presents a not-too-distant future that could absolutely come true. It is a life already lived in some countries, but their story ups everything we’re going through just a notch. Pollution requires full suits instead of just face masks. Living quarters are even more cramped than they are now. And abortion is criminalized in the U.S.

This story packs a whole lot into a relatively short read. It blends a personal story of an individual with the voices of an entire society of uterus-baring people. And it gets bonus points for bringing Lilith–a woman in Jewish folklore who refused to be subservient to a man and who is thought to steal babies–into the spotlight as an organization people turn to when faced with no choice.

At the same time, the story highlights the importance of natural resources–the access to green space and the advancing pollution as more of our planets greenery is lost. It presents a picture of what would happen if greenery was privatized and controlled. And it is terrifying.

Warning: If you read this story, you may be filled with a desire to discuss reproductive rights bodily autonomy. Our group had an hour long imagining of different limits of government interference in reproduction and the social-political climates that create greater governmental control.

“The Propagator” is one of those stories that makes the most of speculative fiction. It doesn’t pull any punches and challenges the reader to imagine a dystopian, possible future along with the author. These are the kinds of stories I hope to write. Maybe I will, but for now I will continue to share these beautiful gems with anyone I can.


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