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Title: Gaia beware : infertility in SF due to bioterrorism, pollution and accidental iatrogenic events
Authors: Grech, Victor E.
Vassallo, Clare
Callus, Ivan
Keywords: Infertility -- Fiction
Science fiction
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: British Science Fiction Association Ltd.
Citation: Grech, V. E., Thake-Vassallo, C., & Callus, I. (2012). Gaia beware : infertility in SF due to bioterrorism, pollution and accidental iatrogenic events. Vector, 270, 26-30.
Abstract: SF has widely depicted eschatological scenarios of all types since we seem to willingly ‘accept the lure of annihilation, only to discover that it is a temporary condition, a gateway to renewal and rebirth’, an omnipresent theme in legend, myth and ritual. Of these scenarios, infertility in particular is a crucial issue that afflicts many individuals, and epidemiologists estimate that the number of European couples who struggle to have children will double within a decade. One in three couples is likely to suffer infertility in ten years' time, compared with one in seven today, and this is thought to be due to the rising age at first attempt at pregnancy when fertility naturally declines, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases which damage the reproductive organs, a huge increase in obesity which is known to adversely affect fertility, and a declining level of male sperm count and overall sperm quality. This paper will limit itself to the intersection of infertility in SF with bioterrorism, pollution, and accidental iatrogenic events, all potentialities that may affect our fragile biosphere. These depictions are common in the genre, and perhaps this is because ‘catastrophism evidently makes for more compelling fictional narratives than gradualism’. Real-life parallels will be highlighted, where and when appropriate and available, by the author, who is a medical doctor. Errors that go beyond the pale of poetic licence will also be pointed out, since ‘error-free science fiction is an ideal […] impossible of achievement […] not that […] the author can be excused for not trying; unreachability is, after all, what ideals are for’. A wide variety of narrative forms are included, in a comprehensive attempt to include all such narratives, and these include not only novels, short stories and films, but also computer games and comic books.
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