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Biology and MannersEssays on the Worlds and Works of Lois McMaster Bujold$
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Regina Yung Lee and Una McCormack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621730

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621730.001.0001

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date: 24 July 2021

Womb with a View

Womb with a View

Ectogenesis in Ethan of Athos and Brave New World

(p.187) Womb with a View
Biology and Manners

Ally Wolfe


This chapter conducts a close reading of Lois McMaster Bujold’s ‘problem’ novel Ethan of Athos, in which an all-male world, Athos, is posited, reliant for reproduction on the ‘uterine replicator’ or artificial womb. Close reading demonstrates how the novel proves more complex than initial readings might suggest in its careful working-through of the ramifications of the uterine replicator for parenting, motherhood, and the duty of care towards the young. The chapter argues how the existence of Athos with the wider Vorkosigan series is significant, part of an ongoing and series-wide project by Bujold to demonstrate the range of possible futures that the uterine replicator might permit. At various points, Ethan of Athos is brought into conversation with Huxley’s Brave New World to contrast Bujold and Huxley’s visions of reproductive futurities. The chapter shows how Bujold’s saga-length project of creating a diverse science-fictional heterotopia involves a thorough working-through of the ramifications of the uterine replicator, of detaching reproduction from a gestational body, in which Ethan of Athos plays a necessary part.

Keywords:   Lois McMaster Bujold, Ethan of Athos, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Vorkosigan, Uterine replicator, Heterotopia, Gestation

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