Help Me Identify this short SciFi story ..? MeFi You're my Only Hope!
June 6, 2019 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Story is told from point of view of a woman who is kept in an environmentally sealed lab, but she doesn't know why. She might have grown up inside lab? The only person she communicates with is the Male lab assistant. At some point she escapes and it's inferred that this is bad.. Apocalyptic levels of bad. The Planet the lab is on is described as barren - dessert like. I can't remember what happened at the end but it gave me an intense feeling of unease.

It might be by JG Ballard, but I've searched through plot synopsis for all of his published short stories I can find, and my memory of the story doesn't match any of of those.

I definitely read it and it's not a short nor feature film.

Does anyone have any idea?

I know it was published in a short story anthology - I think by a single author - and was originally published n English so not a translation from another language.
posted by Faintdreams to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think this is it, because the protagonist is a boy and most of the people he interacts with are women, but otherwise, "Patient Zero" by Tananarive Due fits the bill quite well (and is also quite gripping).
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:13 AM on June 6, 2019

This is Resident Evil, so was that based on a short story?
posted by praemunire at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2019

Could it possibly be "Evil Spirits," from Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2019

OP here - Patient Zero was an excellent read - unfortunately it's not the story I'm looking for.

I don't think it's the Resident Evil Story (origin?) because of the Dessert Planet detail ?

It's also defiantly not Evil Spirits from Chuck Palahuniuk's Haunted either - that features a prison, environment and the story I remember was set in a sterile lab environment with only to characters
posted by Faintdreams at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2019

Grasping at straws here, but it sounds a bit like Grayworld (or maybe Greyworld) by Dean R. Koontz, published in Infinity Five back in 1973. It matches some (not all) of your points.
posted by doctor tough love at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2019

Your description shares similarities with, but does not fully match, a recent film called Morgan.
posted by WCityMike at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2019

I don't have a title for you unfortunately but I clearly remember reading a story that meets that description around the early 90s, if that helps at all. I think there was some kind of computer system/AI involved in keeping her trapped/safe/informed (perhaps misleading her), unless I'm confusing it with another story (or perhaps I'm thinking of the male lab assistant instead). It's been a long time and details are fuzzy but I remember liking the story and yes, an uneasy feeling too.
posted by randomnity at 11:46 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

OP here: Grayworld By Dean Koontz was republished as the Novella 'The Long Sleep' and it's not that.

I've seen the trailers for the film Morgan - not the film itself - it's not that because it's not based on a short story (as far as I can find out) and lacks the sterile lab and desert planet elements which I remember quite clearly.

Randomnity - YES I do believe there was an AI element, you and I appear to have read the same story!
posted by Faintdreams at 11:57 AM on June 6, 2019

This makes me think of The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree Jr. Great story, but I don’t think it’s the one you’re looking for.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2019

I found this similar question which I am quite sure is also asking about the story I'm remembering.

The people there suggest it is the young adult novel "Alien Child", which might be it - I've definitely read it, although I'm not sure if it's the one I'm thinking of here (I read just about every fantasy/sci fi novel I could find as a teen...they blend together a bit). I definitely remember the part about her being raised from an embryo in the lab, though I thought it was an AI raising her, not an alien.
posted by randomnity at 1:59 PM on June 6, 2019

I've read Alien Child, and I don't think that's what the OP is describing. That book has a very positive ending and tone, not bleak, and the planet isn't a desert, more of an Eden. Humans have all died, but nature is doing great.

The only other human is also someone her own age, and he doesn't appear till a good way into the book.

Sorry I have no clue about the original ask; I'd love to know what it is!
posted by gideonfrog at 4:57 PM on June 6, 2019

Another shot in the dark - not sure why this came to me this afternoon. Could it be James Patrick Hogan's Silver Shoes for a Princess? It looks as if it was expanded into a fix-up novel called Star Child.

Again, not a perfect match to the original description. But - these kinds of questions, it's common that the description is a bit off.
posted by doctor tough love at 5:28 PM on June 8, 2019

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