The introduction to “Baby Doll,” by Johanna Sinisalo gives you an intriguing overview of the Finnish heritage in science fiction and fantasy. Then it curtly informs you that this story is dystopian SF about children losing their childhood and dumps you into sexhell.
Annette is eight and already obsessed with sex, or at least she thinks she’s supposed to be. Her old sister, Lulu, is a model at 10. Her little brother, Otsu, is five and dating. There are some signs that Annette rebels, but she doesn’t have the power to change anything. Her parents accommodate all this like sheep who only vaguely guess that something might be wrong with that ramp they’re walking up and the sheep ahead that all of a sudden they can’t see or hear.
It’s all very well written and immediate. Annette’s confusion and fury and jealousy are totally convincing. Even though I am repulsed by its world, I find it hard to stop reading. Maybe I’m hoping for a different ending. When I read a story that so relentlessly portrays an evil, I feel like I’m supposed to want to do something about it, but this story is so hopeless, I wonder if you’re even allowed to think it’s possible.
You might want your teddy bear back after reading this.