Biofiction: Reproductive Ethics Edition

 

CBHD often receives requests from educators and other individuals for popular resources that engage bioethics through various media (fiction, film, and television). In this resource, we offer an overview of materials relevant to reproductive ethics in fictional books and series. Readers are cautioned that these works represent a wide variety of genres and may not be appropriate for all audiences. If there is a work you think we missed, email us at info@cbhd.org.

 

Reproductive Ethics

  • Atwood, Margaret. MaddAddam Trilogy (Series)
    • Oryx and Crake (Anchor, 2004)
    • The Year of the flood (2010)
    • MaddAddam (2013)
    • The trilogy explores the aftermath of a cataclysmic bioterror pandemic that eradicates most of the human species. In the first volume, the main character Jimmy is the unwitting accomplice to the bioterror event for which his friend Crake/Glen is responsible. As Jimmy realizes the scope of what has happened he seeks to protect a humanoid species (the Crakes) that Crake has genetically-engineered, with a group of friends referred to as the MaddAddamites. The second volume follows an environmental cult, God's Gardeners, and two of their members - Toby and Ren - as they seek to survive in the aftermath of a landscape infested with genetically-engineered intelligent creatures. The final volume brings the survivors together as they seek to rebuild some semblance of civilization in the midst of threats from other humans who have seemingly lost their humanity. (Topics: Animal-Human Hybrids, Bioterrorism, Biotechnology, Egg Donation, Euthanasia, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Personhood, Posthuman, Research Ethics)
  • Card, Orson Scott. The Ender Saga (Series, also referred to as the Ender's Game Series)
    • Ender's Game (1985)
    • Speaker for the Dead (1986)
    • Xenocide (1991)
    • Children of the Mind (1996)
    • Ender in Exile (2008)
    • A sci-fi series for young adults. Amidst the evolving storyline the series raises a number of issues related to technology and the complexities of their personal and societal implications. (Topics: Reproductive Technology, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Artificial Intelligence and Personhood, Radical Life Extension)
  • Card, Orson Scott. The Shadow Saga (Series)
    • Ender's Shadow (1999)
    • Shadow of the Hegemon (2001)
    • Shadow Puppets (2002)
    • Shadow of the Giant (2005)
    • Shadows in Flight (2012)
    • A sci-fi series for young adults. Amidst the evolving storyline the series raises a number of issues related to technology and the complexities of their personal and societal implications. (Topics: Reproductive Technology, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Artificial Intelligence and Personhood, Radical Life Extension)
  • Card, Orson Scott. Shadows in Flight (Tor, 2012)
    • The latest addition to Orson Scott Card's Ender corpus. This contribution to the Shadow series finds genetically engineered "Bean" in space flight with his enhanced progeny, as they struggle to find a way to reverse the unintended consequences of their genetic enhancements. (Topics: Artificial Womb, Genetic Engineering/Gene Therapy, Human Enhancement)
  • Lowry, Louis. The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
    • (Topics: Designer Babies, Eugenics, Euthanasia, Genetic Engineering, Neuroethics, Personhood, Reproductive Technology, Surrogacy)
  • Lowry, Louis. Son (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)
    • (Topics: Surrogacy)
  • Shusterman, Neal. Unwind (Simon and Schuster, 2007)
    • Unwind follows four teens fighting for their lives in a future America in which 13- to 19-year-olds can be “unwound”—a process of harvesting organs and body tissue for the use of others. The country has suffered through a Second Civil War pitting pro-life and pro-choice groups in combat over abortion. The passage of the “Bill of Life” along with a dramatic advance in organ transplantation capabilities by means of the development of “neurografting” (a procedure that makes use of 99.4% of the human body) have restored social order and begun to remedy cultural divisions that plagued the country by promoting human health. The Bill of Life offered a compromise by prohibiting abortion, but parents may retroactively abort their teen-aged children by “unwinding” them—harvesting all of their useful organs and tissues such that the children were said to not die, but physically live on. The teens in the story recognize their vulnerability and dispensability to their parents and society as a whole that results from this policy. The Bill of Life feigns preserving human life and dignity, but commodifies a demographic desired only for their tissues and organs. Unwind (and its sequels in the Unwind Dystology series UnWholly, UnSouled, and UnDivided) follows the teens and their resistance against forces promoting a casual view of human life and an expanding role for government and commercial power over the nation. How far should organ transplantation go? How does a nation slide into indifference toward its youth for personal, national, and commercial gains? Unwind is a tense read intended for a young adult audience, graphically exposing the possibilities of biomedical technology and the importance of a moral framework as necessary to keep safeguards on the advance of technology and medicine. (Review by Marie Butson, MDIV, MA) (Topics: Neuroscience, Organ Procurement and Transplantation, Reproductive Technologies)

 

 

Updated December 2016