by Elizabeth Malartre
• Word count: 4469
• Page count: 12
Darwin’s Suitcase is a science fiction short story about the effects of time travel to a pivotal point in history. It follows a woman living in a religiously controlled world who uses a temporal viewer to watch a scene in the life of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. As events unfold she discovers that Darwin holds a conversation with a most unusual and determined visitor.
This story plays on the familiar theme of being able to change the present/future by changing the past. If you like these types of stories (like Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder) then you will probably enjoy this one too. Either way, this short story does make you think about several deep topics: religion vs. science, evolution, time travel and ethical choices – to name a few.
Darwin’s Suitcase obviously deals with speculation, but it also talks about some real historical events, such as Darwin’s voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle, the publishing of The Origin of Species and Gregor Mendel’s work on the inheritance of traits in pea plants.
Sister Solange checked herself just before she nodded off. She stared bleary-eyed at the balky Temporal ViewScreen.
It was before matins, and she was never bright in the early morning. And if someone should find her here . . . the sister who ran the library would never allow this observation during regular research hours. It wasn’t on the Approved List.
You can read Darwin’s Suitcase online for free at webscription.net – this is a nice version because it has some cool computer generated graphics to accompany it.
I had a hard time finding information about the author – apparently because Elizabeth Malartre is a pen name. It appears that she has written several other stories and books, because Tor Books has this little blurb about her. If you know anything else about her please leave a comment and enlighten us!