Titles are such important things. I had never read this story because of its title. It just didn’t interest me. But I’m being a completist these days, and reading what’s before me, or at least trying.
I knew that “No Woman Born” was an sf classic. I also knew it was probably too long for the Tough Mothers anthology, but I read it anyway, partly for some of the future projects I’m doing.
First, you need to know that this story was written in the mid-1940s, but much of what Moore describes about television and its effect on the world is quite accurate. Get rid of a few phrases here and there, and the story could be set now.
“No Woman Born” tells the story of Deirdre, the most beautiful woman in the world and an entertainer (dancer, singer, actress), who nearly died in a fire. A man named Maltzer manages to save her before it’s too late, and places her body in the body of a metal creature. (To call this metal creation a robot is wrong.)
The story begins a year later, when Deirdre is going to return to public life—reintroduce herself, more or less. The story is told by her manager, John Harris, a curious choice as the teller of the tale. Nonetheless, he provides the perfect bridge between the new and old Deirdre, and our understanding of her.
Essentially, this story is a conscious retelling of Frankenstein, upgraded for the modern era. It’s not about birth or death, though. Instead, it’s about being human. And dammit, it deserves its status as a classic in the field. I have notes. I am considering…
Anyway, I read this in The Best of C.L. Moore, edited by Lester del Rey, Ballantine, 1976.