Womb with a View
Womb with a View
Ectogenesis in Ethan of Athos and Brave New World
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.
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