Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Katherine Maclaine's "All Kinds of Reasons": Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon" updated, improved, & shortened

This is a very good story based on the same premise as Robert Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon": ability of a couple to choose the best among all possible babies they can have. Very plausible, & emotionally very distressing; see my opening remarks with "Beyond This Horizon" article about experience of an Indian state with a very simple application of this.

Because of shorter form, I find it a much better read than "Beyond This Horizon" - no space to chase tangents!

Full text of this story is available online.

Story summary.
A new technology for human baby making has recently become available: grow several embryos from the eggs/semen of a couple in lab. Then feed the genetic data of these embryos into a "prediction software". Software can then graphically simulate the way baby will look like at any stage till the age of 8; feed some more genetic data at birth, & range goes up to 20 years! Of course, apart from this physical display, you also get access to a lot of health & fitness data - but you need a doctor to interpret that; physique graphics are accessible even to couples involved.

Of the say 30 embryos you have growing in lab, doctor can advice on the best ones, but the couple is the ultimate judge. Choose 3 of the best; get them implanted in mother; hope some of them will grow inside mother. In case more than one start growing, you have the option to kill some among them.

Story is of the emotional turmoil of Tony, as he & Rhia go through this process of baby making. Rhia has no qualms about choosing the apparently fittest & best looking babies. Tony goes through extreme emotions w.r.t. Sirena, his private name for a physically deformed child that was not allowed to be born.

Fact sheet.
All Kinds of Reasons, short story, review
First published: Strange Horizons, 3 September 2007
Rating: A
This story made it to my "best of the year" picks for 2007.

See also.

  1. All stories about technology assisted human baby making.
  2. All stories from Strange Horizons.
  3. This story ranked (by quality) among all stories.