Monday, August 20, 2007

Ellen Klages' "Ringing Up Baby": Made-to-order baby, gone wrong

This beautiful little piece of chilling humor narrates the experience of a little girl helping her nanny order her baby sister!

Full text of this story is available online.

Story summary.
Narrator is an unnamed little girl. Looks like her mom is a very busy woman - mom/daughter meet Wednesdays for supper! Nanny has convinced mom to have a second child: "has arranged for a nice lady to plant Mother’s egg and do all the messy parts, then give the baby to us when it’s done."

She sits down with the nanny in front of the computer to order rest of the new baby. They have many choices:

  1. Brother or sister: she wants sister "because a brother would be a pest and get into my best things, like Courtney Taylor’s brother Robby, who programmed her mobile phone to ring with a nasty farting sound."
  2. Its birthday: Oct, "so her party won’t get in the way of Christmas" or her own birthday.
  3. Skin color: "Babies only come in about six colours".
  4. Hair & eye color.
  5. Intelligence - e.g., stupid, or above average. Better intelligence costs more money.
  6. Good at maths?
  7. Bioimmunity: Better immunity costs more money.
  8. ...
Midway through ordering, nanny gets a phone call, & goes to another room. That is when the little girls selects an interesting option - "bioluminescence" - they can mix some genes of a certain kind of jellyfish! "Once I have my baby sister, I will never need my night-light again. Nanny will be so proud."

This option was apparently on a popup screen; the girl is smart enough to restore screen the way nanny left. Presumably, she will get a bioluminscent sister!

Fact sheet.
Ringing Up Baby, short story, review
First published: Nature magazine, 27 April 2006
Rating: A

See also.
  1. All stories about technology assisted human baby making.
  2. This story ranked (by quality) among all stories.