I knew about the Radium girls and this one riffs off that. I had also read about the elephant (Topsy) killed using electricity. Some sources describe the incident as part of the war of the currents (AC vs DC) but whatever else these are real things that happened. This takes those incidents and wraps them together with elephants having learned a type of sign language and the concept of Elephant stories and it becomes an interesting tale of complicated politics and strange bedfellows who are all being exploited. It does take the concept that in reality some lower-waged workers are treated no better by management than animals, and honestly I find it hard to disagree. It also asks if taking revenge really does improve some people's lives, the women all die horrible deaths, often waiting for monies owed and it's hard to see that en exploited elephant mightn't one day take revenge. Even into the future of the story things remain bleak.
It's a story that made me think and I'd be interested in more by this author, but I'd need something quite sunny afterwards.
Provided as part of the Hugo Award packet.