Isaac Fellman’s The Two Doctors Górski is an interesting science fantasy novel from a up-and-coming author. The basic setup of a graduate student dealing with past trauma and a difficult current advisor is easily relatable, but the expansion on that idea through speculative means is fascinating.
Annae is the lead. She can read minds, and was seduced by her previous advisor who hounds her to this day in an effort to destroy her career. As a result she is now working under a celebrated magician in England. This magician is Marec Górski, who from the outset seems very much of a Hugh Laurie cast of doctor. He is angry, bitter, and hateful to those around him. While this is occasionally painted as an effort to educate or an attempt to push away others, the fact it is abusive to a certain degree is understood. At the same time he is greatly celebrated for his great achievement, a peculiar homunculus. Specifically he created an entity called ariel, who is the distillation of most if not all of the traits people would call positive in an individual, taken out of Marec himself.
Other important characters besides Annae, Marec, and Ariel are chiefly limited to one Torquil Gibson. He is the longsuffering plant expert working under Marec in an effort to get his dissertation approved. His warnings towards our lead regarding their mutual advisor are sometimes harsh but never angry. His personal desires, down to a suggestion that she should use her research to kill Marec, our understandable even when they seem mean or mercenary.
Recovering from abuse, and dealing with the damage that life gives is a major theme of this work. Indeed the fact that one can do harm even while trying to be helpful is a key factor. Annae’s research denotes the problems that appear as side effects can be worse than the original that is cured. Marec seems ashamed of his past work, steadily deteriorating in both behavior and health as a result.
There is a certain element of Jekyll and Hyde to this volume, in the separating of traits that an individual deems harmful or against purpose into another being. However for an author a decade removed from the television series House, the fact that the original is the mean-spirited, angry, and abusive character makes much of a difference. The comparison may seem unfair to some, however if anything it’s a compliment. Both deal in self-experimentation and the unintended consequences thereof, albeit taking the work in somewhat different directions. Even so the self-destructive nature of these actions, in the long or short term, is a key factor. Similarly the ripples that such actions can have, allowing one’s worst traits to bloom, are made very obvious. All of the other lead characters, especially Annae, are harmed by the increasing instability of an individual that didn’t want to deal with certain aspects of themselves.
The Two Doctors Górski is a dark, somber, and semi hopeless read. Nonetheless it’s examinations of the human condition, combined with an all too real look at academia, will more than enthrall the reader. This volume is well worth reading to interested parties, and Isaac Fellman is definitely a name to watch out for.