First, a cinematic intro courtesy of My Big Fat Greek Wedding:
I love this movie!
Anyway, so what's a teratoma (Greek for "monstrous tumor"), and how on earth might it be used as literary inspiration?
Teratomas are masses, usually benign, that contain elements that can be found in any part of the body. Thus, they can contain:
- neural tissue and brain
- highly developed body parts, such as eyes, fingers, or internal organ tissues (liver, kidney)
They generally arise from the germ cells of men and women, so they'll manifest as ovarian cysts or tumors, or testicular masses. They can also arise from embryonic cells and show up in the neck, chest, skull, and even the coccyx (tail bone).
Rarely, the mass can be so well advanced in its development that it can appear to have almost fetus-like definition. This is called fetus in fetu. Some have theorized that it represents a twin that was enveloped by the person in utero, or simply a very developed teratoma.
The fetus in fetu syndrome has shown up in books, such as...
Stephen King's The Dark Half
Billie Cowie's Passenger
Phillip K. Dick's Dr. Bloodmoney
Okay. Now. Spanikopita, anyone????