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Author Topic: Fantasy Authors and Reproduction
Katarain
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As I think I might have mentioned here before, I'm doing a creative writing thesis to finish up my masters. I'll be writing a fantasy novel, or as is probably more apt, a fantasy novella. Part of the project requires a long critical introduction that fits my work into work already done. I'm working on my prospectus, or proposal, for the project now, and need to include several pages outlining what I will be putting in that critical introduction. (This is my second prospectus. The first one was way too general, and I fully expected to do it over again once I got guidance from my professor. I did, and I am.)

At least two major parts of my story deal with reproduction, at one time mandated by the state and society and at another restricted by the state and society (and really, I guess in some ways both at once). This is a simplification, of course. There are various political, environmental, and social circumstances that prompt each movement. We're talking definite eugenics.

What I am asking for is names of fantasy authors and their works that deal with similar issues. At first I was limiting the question to only female authors, but that was only because of my original starting topic of women and fantasy. Now that I've narrowed it down to reproduction, I realize that I can consider male authors as well. Once I did that, I realized I can include the limitation to only 2 children in Ender's Game. I know that's Sci-Fi, but there's room in my paper for a little leeway there. After all, the beginning of my story is a little sci-fi. It's just ultimately fantasy.

So, that makes this ultimately a "Help me with my homework!" thread, but I assure you that while your responses will be a definite help, 97% of the work will still be mine. I will be doing the research on the suggestions you make, putting it all together, and writing the paper. Getting assistance here is completely legal, moral, and honest.

If the topic interests you, feel free to discuss at will. I don't mind if the thread wanders, as threads at Hatrack tend to do.

To give you a little idea of what particular facets of reproduction I'm initially interested in from my own story...

The pressures of infertility on couples, especially women, in a society valuing increased procreation.

The pressure to measure up to a rigid standard to earn the right to procreate.

Forced procreation.

Forced abortion.

Thanks for your help. [Smile]

-Katarain

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JennaDean
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quote:
The pressures of infertility on couples, especially women, in a society valuing increased procreation.
This one reminded me of Sarah, although of course that one is historical fiction and not fantasy ... so it may not apply.
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Nell Gwyn
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This doesn't exactly fit into your list, but Archangel by Sharon Shinn deals a bit with contraception vs. child abandonment.
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ketchupqueen
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I remember a novella in a collection somewhere about women being on "the shunt", which somehow stopped periods, but that's kind of a tangetal issue, and I don't remember the name, anyway.

The Giver, while definitely a children's book, is neither really sci-fi nor fantasy, but firmly into the "speculative fiction" category, I'd say, as it's very much both. If you've read that book, you know that sex drive is eliminated by drugging adolescents as soon as they start to have sexual thoughts or dreams, children are born to "birth mothers" whose job it is (decided by the community elders) to have one child a year for five years, then they do manual labor for food production, they are artificially inseminated and never see the babies, who are concieved on a quota and raised for the first year by caregivers in a fairly clinical environment, then placed with families who have to petition to have a child, and may have one boy and one girl, after being evaluated for stability and such by the community elders. The book actually centers on a teenager who saves the life of a child who is going to be killed as "abnormal" and escapes the community because he has recived memories of love and a time when families were not communally determined, and it is very much a central issue, at least to my mind.

And of course, in Brave New World, sex is pretty much mandated by the state, but it's considered "dirty" to have a child; children are grown in factories.

I'll mull it over and try to think of some more...

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Katarain
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I'm quite happy to bend the rules a bit to include books outside of the fantasy range. Sarah is certainly speculative fiction...don't you think? I haven't had a chance to read it yet. This might be a great opportunity.

I can work it so that a treatment of Sarah and other non-fantasy works can fit in nicely.

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ketchupqueen
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Oh, well, while we're at it, in 1984 women are taught to hate sex but to have children "as a duty to the Party".
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Nell Gwyn
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On similar line, in We by Zamyatin, people need special permit cards in order to have sex, and this is the only time they are ever allowed to close the blinds on their windows.
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Katarain
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I've read The Giver, but it was a long time ago. That's a good one. I love the suggestions so far. The situations certainly don't have to be the same as mine. Part of the project is showing not only how mine is the same, but how it is different.

Thanks for the replies so far. Hatrack is such a help. [Smile]

-Katarain

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rivka
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*resists dobie featuring two fantasy authors and their kids*
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JennaDean
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quote:
Sarah is certainly speculative fiction...don't you think?
Well, in the sense that he's speculating about what it might have been like to live back then, and what Sarah's thoughts and motivations might have been; but in that sense, all fiction is speculative. It's not speculative fiction in the sense of having magic or fairy tale or sci-fi elements to it - except for the religious aspects, in which case you'd have to consider the Bible speculative fiction. [Smile] (Not that I want to open that debate.) But it is fiction, and it definitely applies to that issue - Sarah measures her worth and the success of her marriage by the fact that she cannot have children.
quote:
people need special permit cards in order to have sex, and this is the only time they are ever allowed to close the blinds on their windows.
Which means whenever your blinds are closed, all your neighbors know what you're doing? [Blushing]
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ElJay
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Again with the not-exactly-Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but how about The Handmaid's Tale?
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Dagonee
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Still with OSC:

The Angels and Diggers had breeding controls (ultimately circumvented). Further, regarding "pressure to measure up to a rigid standard to earn the right to procreate," the Angels rigorously enforced twinning and the clay contests were a form of breeding selection.

The Muellers in Treason have some breeding restrictions - rads can't breed. Also,they've had controlled breeding for some time to maximize regen.

Outside OSC, The Hand Maid's Tale seems to fit, from a different direction (forced reproduction). Particularly relevant to "pressures of infertility on couples, especially women, in a society valuing increased procreation."

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ketchupqueen
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Having mulled a few minutes, First Meetings deals with those Ender's Game population restrictions a bit more explicitly.

While it's not a big part of the book after the first part, reproduction is an essential central issue in the beginning of Taliesin, the first book of the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead. A baby is found at the bottom of a salmon weir, and the unlucky chieftain's son who found him becomes lucky in finding him and bringing a woman to nurse him from another village. Where reproduction comes in here is that she had been a "barter bride" for the local chieftain, basically contracted to be his wife on a temporary basis to bear an heir for him, but the child was stillborn or died shortly after birth (I don't remember which.) As a result, this previously popular, beautiful woman was seen as "undesirable" and her mother despaired of her ever being able to get married. She is brought to nurse the infant Taliesin, as I said, and marries the new chieftain, whose luck turned around that day. But it's still seen as unusual that he remains faithful and loyal to her despite the fact that she bears him no children. So reproduction was very valued in that society, and she was unusual because she rose above a failure to reproduce.

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Katarain
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Wonderful. [Smile] I have a lot of reading to do. I was thinking about getting criticism on these works and not spending much time reading the originals, but they're all such wonderful choices! I've read all of the OSC stuff so far that's been mentioned. But it's been a while. I think I'll have to look at the Homecoming series again. I think that more than the last book is relevant, though. Although it's not strictly about reproduction, I think the issues that come up on their journey out of the city is important and interesting, such as a sentence of death on the woman if adultery is committed.

You see, reproduction isn't the ONLY thing I can talk about. It opens up so many more issues, treatment of women and marriage being two of them.

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ketchupqueen
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Oh, and more OSC: Saints goes waaaay into the infertility thing. But it might be a bit much for your paper! It's historical fiction, so definitely in the speculative fiction category, but again, not fantasy or even sci-fi.
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Katarain
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I think the way I can use non-fantasy books is as more of an introduction into the way reproduction has been treated and considered outside the genre and throughout the past. The bulk of my analysis will be on fantasy.
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blacwolve
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This is likely not what you're looking for, but I figure it won't hurt to throw it out there.

In Harry Potter fanfic there is a subgenre called "Marriage Law fic" most of it Snape/Hermione and quite bad. It centers around the premise that the wizarding world is experiencing a series of problems (decreased IQ, more squibs, etc) as a result of the predjudices against muggles and muggleborns. In response, the wizarding government regulates marriage and breeding, requiring that purebloods and halfbloods marry either muggles or muggleborns.

I realize it's not real fiction, but it is very relevant...

Also, Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga spends a great deal of time addressing the rather feudal society's reaction to the introduction of uterine replicators as a replacement for normal pregnancy and birth. I think the book that addresses its affect on society most directly is Memory.

Nell- I have ArchAngel sitting on my desk right now, I'm still trying to decide whether to read it. Is it any good?

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ketchupqueen
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quote:
In Harry Potter fanfic there is a subgenre called "Marriage Law fic" most of it Snape/Hermione and quite bad. It centers around the premise that the wizarding world is experiencing a series of problems (decreased IQ, more squibs, etc) as a result of the predjudices against muggles and muggleborns. In response, the wizarding government regulates marriage and breeding, requiring that purebloods and halfbloods marry either muggles or muggleborns.

I realize it's not real fiction, but it is very relevant...

Well, you could go into the whole thing about the "pure-blood" families and how they're all inter-related. That's a definite reproductive issue, and addressed in the actual books.
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Katarain
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Aah good on The Handmaid's Tale. Margaret Atwood was one of the authors that my professor suggested. But I couldn't remember what story she mentioned. It was probably that one. Others she mentioned were Octavia Butler, Marge Piercy, and a few others, but I don't have the list with me. I did some research on them, but haven't had much luck figuring out WHICH works to consider. Also, my prof. has a habit of giving me psuedo fantasy...stuff that the postmodernists or others are crazy about but that isn't real fantasy to you and me. It's too "literary." (in the bad sense.)
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ketchupqueen
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If you want a real "literary" one thrown in there, The Female Man is a must. Of course, some people tend to classify it more as sci-fi because of the time travel elements, but again, I really think we should do away with the sci-fi/fantasy distinction in stories centered on characters and just lump them all together, the sci-fi gets so fantasy-ish. I enjoyed The Female Man, although not as much as some things. But totally a "literary" work-- I think I came by it when my sister finished her "Women in Science Fiction" class or some such.
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blacwolve
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Katarain- If you don't mind me asking, what school are you at? I have a friend who wants to get her Masters in Creative Writing, and she's having trouble finding someplace where she can work on speculative fiction.

If you wouldn't mind I'd love to give her your email, I think she'd really appreciate talking to someone in your position before she makes a decision.

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ketchupqueen
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Oooh! Another sci-fi one: The Avatar, by Poul Anderson. Not only deals with an alternate society and their alternate mode of reproduction and the relationships that come from it, and their interactions with the human race, but touches on the fact that "immunity" can now be "reversed", a kind of permanent birth control that women only remove when they choose to have children, and how religious/cultural beliefs influence the choice to have that done/not done, etc., etc. (There's just too much to go into detail on this one.)
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ketchupqueen
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(It's fascinating to think what a central, basic issue reproduction really is to so many stories! Well, almost all of them, if you go to the root of mythological archetypes...)
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blacwolve
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I just thought of one too. In Conquest Born by CS Friedman deals with a society where women have basically no rights. A man can have sex with any lower caste woman (over 90% of the population) he wants, whenever he wants, unless she's working. The upper caste women are required to have a certain number of children in their lifetimes in order to maintain the numbers of the upper caste, but those numbers are slowly falling regardless. Mostly because the upper caste is so inbred that having children is very difficult. The interesting part is that the society is completely believable. It is science fiction again, though.
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Katarain
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blacwolve, I'll tell you in email. But the school only just started allowing a creative writing thesis in the last few years. We won't ever get a Creative Writing specific Masters because another state college has that distinction. Politics, you know? I was pleasantly surprised my first year when a professor let me write a paper on Buffy. And although my creative writing teacher in a later class had a stipulation that we not write science fiction or fantasy, one of my stories was borderline fantasy, and the other one had a definite sci-fi feel. She is now my thesis professor, and is happy with me doing the fantasy novella.

I think it's hard to get the older professors excited about fantasy and sci-fi sometimes, but if your friend went to a university where there are particular professors who are willing to work with her on her speculative fiction projects, then it should be okay. The higher-ups might not be thrilled about it, but just as long as she takes her work seriously and makes good literature at the same time as making good fantasy, it should be okay. That's what we all should do anyway.

katarain at gmail.

Edit: for readability.

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ketchupqueen
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I'm debating whether Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is related enough to mention. Maybe I need to re-read it. [Big Grin]

(It's definitely about a woman of power in a society where women traditionally have little power or control, but I don't remember whether there's anything in there that will help you.

And okay, I just want an excuse to get started on Divakaruni again. [Big Grin] )

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Icarus
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I'm thinking Terry Goodkind should not reproduce . . . is that the sort of thing you're looking for?
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Katarain
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Your dislike of Goodkind is quite well-known, I think... [Smile] I actually like him AND his works.

I thought someone might think that's what this thread was about... [Smile]

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quidscribis
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Yep, I was going to suggest The Handmaid's Tale as well. The movie was also relatively well done.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Octavia Butler (who passed away on Saturday) wrote Xenogenesis, a science-fiction trilogy of novels that deal heavily with procreation -- both demanded and forbidden.
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Nell Gwyn
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quote:
Nell- I have ArchAngel sitting on my desk right now, I'm still trying to decide whether to read it. Is it any good?
It's one of my favorites, but I'm not sure that it's one everyone would enjoy. I'm a bit at a loss to explain why I like it, but I'll try....For me, I love its premise and the characters and cultures, and I like how it's more of a semi-romantic fantasy-esque sci-fi. (I'm not really a fan of sci-fi in general, but I'm working on that.) It has a very old-world historical fantasy feel, but it's also clearly futuristic and modern at the same time, which I found really interesting. I also like Shinn's writing style - it's simple, but fluid and very lyrical in places. There's several other books set in the same world, but IMO Archangel is the strongest of them. Angel-Seeker was my favorite of the sequels, and Jovah's Angel was a close second. Her books aren't without flaws, but they still have a lot to offer - I've never regretted reading them, anyway, and they're books that I'm eventually planning on adding to my collection.

Hmm...Shinn's Samaria books actually remind me a little of OSC's Homecoming series, now that I think of it. It's been a while since I've read that, but there are some surface similarities.

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Enigmatic
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The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft is a horror short story that deals with forced cross-species procreation breeding. It could be useful if you wanted to mix in mention of a horror-fantasy example.

--Enigmatic

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Katarain
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I am absolutely delighted and overwhelmed by all of the suggestions here. [Smile] Thank you. I am also perfectly willing to be even more delighted and overwhelmed should more ideas surface.

I sure do have my work cut out for me!

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Wonder Dog
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Heinlein's "—All You Zombies—" is a short story about a person who becomes thier own mother and father through time travel... interesting, if not usefull.
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Noemon
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Almost all of Butler's work would apply, I'd say, as would quite a bit of Ted Sturgeon's writing.

James Tiptree Jr's short story "The Screwfly Solution" is definitely relevant (again, a lot of her stuff would be--"The Women Men Don't See" is another one that leaps to mind).

I'd say that all of the Dune books would be relevant to this topic as well.

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Audeo
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Marion Zimmer Bradley deals with reproduction a good deal in her Darkover novels. Darkover is the name of a planet that is medieval in culture, and is contacted by some sort of galactic confederation. Turns out Darkover is a lost colony of sorts, and the 'civilized' empire is trying to reestablish a connection to it. The women on Darkover live very restricted lives, not too unlike women in the middle ages. There are also strict castes and members of different castes are not allowed to interbreed. In addition there are two separatists groups with even more different extremes. One group lives in a desert society in which women twelve and older are literally chained hand and foot to show their submission to men, and they are kept secluded from other men, wear heavy draped robes etc. On the other side of it there is a group of women called the 'renunciates' who swear never to bear a child that they do not want, and train themselves to be mercenaries or at least to support themselves rather than depend on men to support them. It might technically be sci-fi because of the whole interstellar colony thing, but for the most part it feels like fantasy; a unique 'magic' system included.
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Olivet
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I'll echo Eljay's mention of The Handmaid's Tale. It's a scifi concept by a "literary" author. A "literary" author whose books have consistently been sci/fi/fantasy themed, I think.
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Noemon
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Hey, if there aren't talking squids from outerspace it's not science fiction!
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Olivet
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*wonders what attitudes talking squid from outerspace would have on reproduction*
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Noemon
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If you ever meet one you'll have to ask. Most of them speak English, or so I've been led to understand.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Olivet:
*wonders what attitudes talking squid from outerspace would have on reproduction*

Read the Xenogenesis trilogy to find out.

Seriously.

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Olivet
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Though this may come as a shock, I have no particular interest in squid. *shifty eyes*
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Noemon
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The squid tells a different story, Olivet.
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whiskysunrise
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Once A Hero by Michael Stackpole has a little bit about how the Elves have children. If I remember right they have to get permission from the council and then they have to eat a special fruit. The book is not about reporduction, they just mention how it works with the Elves.
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Eaquae Legit
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From what I recall of it, David Brinn's "Glory Season" deals with reproductions, cloning, and what happens when cloning isn't enough. Interesting take on male-female tensions, though it was way over my thirteen-year-old head.
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Juxtapose
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The Neanderthal Parallax by Robert J. Sawyer pops into mind. It's a trilogy: Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids.

It's about an alternate universe where Neanderthals become the dominant species on Earth, rather than Cro-Magnon Man. A Neanderthal computer scientist accidentally rips a hole into our dimension and the hijinx begin!

I actually only read the second book so far, and it discusses many differences between the societies, but one of the major ones is the highly regulated breeding system the Neanderthals employ. Basically, they only reproduce once every ten years, so generations are absolutely uniform. Overall, their society is just very structured, and it's interesting to see how the differences play out. In fact their entire male-female relationship system is one of the most unique I've ever seen.

The book was a quick, fun read, though it did get a little preachy at times. It has an ethos very similar to Daniel Quin's Ishmael, if that kind of thing interests you. I'll probably pick up the other two when I have the time.

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Icarus
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Ah, yes, I was trying to remember the title of Glory Season. [Smile] Good recommendation.
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Belle
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I just finished a science fiction novel by Liz Williams called Ghost Sister. In it, a colony of genetically modified humans have a mating season, called the masque, where they essentially lose all consciousness and go into an animalistic state for the 3-4 days that the women are fertile. It wasn't a great novel, but it might fit into what you're doing as far as forced reproduction, because the women are driven by instinct and can't refrain from the masque even if they want to.
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sarahdipity
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This short story, well two part short story, Bearing Witness by Marguerite Reed was published in strange horizons. It is definately sci-fi but fits in very easily with your topic. It has to do with space, pregnancy in space, and a woman's right to know what is going on with her body.


http://www.strangehorizons.com/2005/20051114/reed-f.shtml

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CoriSCapnSkip
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Heinlein went into different people being allowed different amounts of children in "Podkayne of Mars," and if it appeared in his young adult fiction, it doubtless has a place in other works of his as well.
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