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Rag and Bone by Priya Sharma

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"Rag and Bone" is a 2013 speculative fiction short story by Priya Sharma. It is about a person who goes around collecting body parts for the rich and famous in 19th century England.

Bring Out Your Head!

Have you ever wished that you could purchase new body parts? I guess in a way you can… but that wasn’t the case in the 1800s in Liverpool, England. Here is a clever alternate history story about what that city may have been like if scavenging for body parts had been a normal part of life for those people.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Liverpool by ehkimme, CC 2.0 license

Tom has a precarious job. He works for the Peels, a rich Liverpool family, and so enjoys some benefits of that association. But his job isn’t the nicest one – he collects things that may be of value, especially human body parts that may benefit one of the Peels latest needs… or desires. The lower strata of society look upon him with mixed emotions – hoping to make some money, but knowing where that money is coming from. Anyway, when Tom meets the widow of a famous sailor his life begins to change in some very big ways – more than anybody knows, or even guesses!

Some Interesting Tidbits

  • Word count: 7,397 (16 pages)
  • Did you know that Priya Sharma is a doctor in the UK? Yep. You can learn more about this talented writer by reading her bio on Tor’s web site.

Where To Find Rag and Bone

  • This short story first appeared in April, 2013 on the web site Tor.com.
  • You can still read "Rag and Bone" for free online at Tor.com.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you enjoyed "Rag and Bone" then you might also like “The Fluted Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi – about the vengeful plot of a servant girl whose body has been extensively sculpted by the ruler of her fief.