The Two Doctors Górski

Tor.com. Nov. 2022. 176p. ISBN 9781250840936. pap. $16.99. FANTASY
This novella from Fellman (Dead Collections) defies easy characterization. Annae is a brilliant graduate student who suffered abuse by her former mentor and his institution. She is now on her last chance in academia, studying with Górski, a famous “has been” professor notorious for tearing all his students to psychological ribbons. Fellman resists the familiar story trope of mixing destructive magic with deadly academic rivalry, and instead this story shifts to another common trope, the age-old paradox about attempting to perfect oneself by splitting off what is perceived as being one’s worst impulses—only to discover that they were the best after all. Dr. Marec Górski’s alter-ego, Dr. Ariel Górski, was intended to contain his worst self, but instead it is his best, and the only parts that survive a final, destructive act of self-immolation.
VERDICT Either the magic-academy plot or the splitting-the-self plot, both classics in their own right, would have made an excellent story. Together, they coexist uneasily and are a bit unfulfilled side by side, much like the Doctors Górski themselves. Readers will wish that both stories had come to more satisfying conclusions.
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