A Curious Doubled Existence: Birth Here and in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga
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Lois McMaster Bujold's science fiction (SF) relies on the symbiotic relationship between the technological and the social. This is often illustrated by the tension between the scientific and medicalized process of reproduction (via uterine replicators, cloning, and genetic modification) and the primal, 'natural' process. Varied levels of technological advancement and associated societal changes across the myriad planets within her SF universe allow Bujold to structure this tension as an emotional and social process as much as a medical or obstetrical one, while maintaining a respect for the choices, risks, and vulnerabilities involved in becoming pregnant. Contrasting the experiences of three births depicted within the series--Cordelia Naismith and her son Miles Vorkosigan; Alys Vorpatril and her son Ivan; Ekaterin Vorsoisson and the simultaneously replicator-gestated 'twins' Helen and Aral Vorkosigan--allows us to situate Bujold's explorations within our contemporary discussions around birth choices, technology and medical interventions developed over the past 30 years. Her depiction of medical intervention and the experience of pregnancy offers a philosophy to integrate the technological and the natural, manifesting a socio-cultural experience that does more than simply extrapolate from existing technological advances.
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Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies