A stand-alone near-future SF book.

61135170

Publication year: 2022

Publisher: Oblique Angles Press

Format: ebook

Page count from Goodreads: 316

The book starts with a nameless mother who is about to have a miscarriage. However, the fetus is put into an incubator which is an artificial uterine environment where babies can be safely incubated to term. Also, only a Bureau in the US government is allowed to use them, as an alternative to abortions. That means the Bureau will also seek out adoptive parents for unwanted fetuses. But later in the book, we get clues that the Bureau’s management has other political agendas.

Young struggling artist Toni finds herself accidentally pregnant. She’s already left her boyfriend and doesn’t know how she can support a baby. But then she sees an ad from the Bureau of Reproductive Safety. She could donate the fetus to the Bureau which will find the best possible adoptive parents for it. She quickly decides to do so. However after the donation, she sees a vivid dream about her baby and realizes that she’s made a terrible mistake. But the contract she signed means that she can’t just change her mind. Fortunately, Toni’s mother is a high-powered lawyer. Toni decides to battle the Bureau in the courts to get the fetus back. But she will also be battling the chosen adoptive parents.

Adam and Grace are thrilled to hear that after a long wait, they’ll finally become parents. The Bureau’s representative Poloma warns them that the road might not be easy. Still, Adam and Grace decide to fight for the chance to become parents.

Poloma is happy to work for the Bureau, protecting vulnerable children and helping infertile people become parents. She chooses just the right adoptive parents for Toni’s fetus. She also represents the Bureau in the legal battle and initially she thinks she’s doing the right thing. However, when she finds out what the Bureau’s board is really up to, she must wrestle with her conscience.

Meanwhile, Jack and Mary are trying to get pregnant. But even if that happens, Mary might not be able to carry the baby to term.

The book is thoughtful near-future science fiction, centered on reproductive rights. What happens when humans develop real, working artificial uterine environments? Who gets to use them and for what reason? What happens when a woman gives up her fetus and changes her mind? Who really controls the fetus in that artificial environment? Who should have that right?

The story centers on Toni and her fight to get back the fetus but also on Grace and Adam and their love for the unborn baby whom they hope will be theirs. The legal battle is a big theme but also the bonding that both Grace and Adam but also Toni does with the baby because they can ”meet” it in the Bureau’s facilities. We also meet Toni’s mom and brother. Toni’s relationship with her brother is heart-warming.

I thoroughly enjoyed this speculation of what might happen when growing fetuses in artificial environments become reality.