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dc.identifier.citationGrech, V. E., Thake-Vassallo, C., & Callus, I. (2011). Alien infertility in science fiction : part 1. The WFSA Journal, Summer 2011, 8-11.en_GB
dc.description.abstractAlien infertility has been a frequent theme in science fiction (SF), as a novum with which authors challenge us with fresh concepts, or as an allegory for the human condition. Humanity is often implicated in these stories, either as a helper, or as an antagonist or simply as an observer. Virtually every significant scientific advance, medical progress included, gives rise to a new challenge for moral philosophy. Thus, while modern medical techniques have greatly enlarged and refined humanity’s choices, decision-making by individuals becomes progressively more problematic, and these apparent paradoxes are all potential grist to the SF author’s mill, particularly with the tension of further complicating factors that appear to be logical prefigurations stemming from current medical techniques. This is particularly evident in the field of infertility, a branch in medicine that is traditionally dealt with by specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology. Some definitional considerations would be appropriate at this stage, and the International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID) considers a couple to be infertile (or subfertile) if they have not conceived after a year of unprotected intercourse in women under 35 years of age, or after six months in women over 35 years of age, and in women who are incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term. Medically, infertility is subdivided into two broad types: secondary infertility is the inability to have a child after having conceived at least once, while primary infertility is the inability to ever conceive. The difference between infertility and sterility is that a sterile individual is unable to contribute to the conception of a child at all, whereas an infertile individual can potentially contribute toward a successful pregnancy but is prevented from doing so by one or more physical or psychological factors. For the purposes of this paper, the terms will be used loosely and occasionally interchangeably since the intersection will invoke any aspect that leads to reduced fertility and not just to outright sterility. Infertility may arise from a multitude of causes and is not an uncommon problem. It is estimated that about 10% of couples in the developed world experience infertility, and that this number rises up to 30% in developing countries where sexually transmitted diseases are more rampant due to lack of prevention (contraception and education) and treatment. In the 1960s, syphilis and gonorrhea were the only significant sexually transmitted diseases and were easily treated with penicillin. Today there are over twenty known diseases with an estimated twelve million newly infected individuals each year, and over half of these infections occur in persons under the age of twenty-five, with increasing rates of antibiotic resistance. These diseases damage the reproductive organs of both sexes, sometimes irreparably, with a resulting loss of fertility that may be permanent. Moreover, both sexes in developing countries are exposed to higher levels of dietary and environmental toxins, including cigarette smoke, than populations in developed countries, and such toxins are known to depress fertility due to their deleterious effects on gametes. The paper will attempt to review all aspects of alien infertility in SF, and will relate these sub-tropes to real-life parallels, where available. An interdisciplinary flavour is inevitable as the author is a medical doctor.en_GB
dc.publisherWashington Science Fiction Associationen_GB
dc.subjectExtraterrestrial beings -- Infertilityen_GB
dc.subjectScience fiction -- History and criticismen_GB
dc.subjectExtraterrestrial beings -- Sexual behavioren_GB
dc.titleAlien infertility in science fiction : part 1en_GB
dc.rights.holderThe copyright of this work belongs to the author(s)/publisher. The rights of this work are as defined by the appropriate Copyright Legislation or as modified by any successive legislation. Users may access this work and can make use of the information contained in accordance with the Copyright Legislation provided that the author must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the prior permission of the copyright holder.en_GB
dc.publication.titleThe WFSA Journalen_GB
dc.contributor.creatorGrech, Victor E.
dc.contributor.creatorVassallo, Clare
dc.contributor.creatorCallus, Ivan
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