Speculative fiction featuring surrogacy?
April 10, 2019 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend science fiction works that feature surrogacy? Looking for books, short stories, and movies/tv shows that include surrogacy as at least part of the plot.

Surrogacy is when a person carries a fetus that is not their genetic child in their uterus. For various reasons, it often appears in science fiction although it is part of our present reality.

The most well known speculative fiction work featuring surrogacy that I can think of includes The Handmaid's Tale (novel and series). Can you think of others?

I'm interested in hearing about all sorts of things. Graphic novels, cartoons, novels, tv series, and movies. I'm especially hopeful to hear about more recent works.
posted by ElisaOS to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Er... Alien? You probably should specify whether you want to restrict things to surrogacy of human offspring.
posted by XMLicious at 1:47 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Things get quite a bit more complicated than in our real-world versions of surrogacy, but I think The Stars Are Legion would fit the bill (it's also really good).
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:50 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not really recent and with horrible politics, but Friday by Robert Heinlein features a (semi-involuntary) surrogacy as a major plot point.

The final short story in Tanith Lee's Red as Blood is called Beauty. It's a sci fi retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It's a spoiler to let you know that surrogacy is part of the story but it's such a good short story anyway!
posted by DSime at 2:20 PM on April 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy would count for this, though the surrogate wombs are in alien beings.
posted by Mchelly at 2:29 PM on April 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

I was going to say Butler's 'Bloodchild', though it is a short story. Octavia Butler in general, I guess, uses forced parentage/surrogacy in her reflections on complicated colonized/colonizer relationships.
posted by theweasel at 2:36 PM on April 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Octavia Bulter also wrote an excellent short story called Bloodchild about humans being surrogates for aliens.

She had a thing, I guess.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:38 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hmm. Would Bujold’s uterine replicators count?
posted by eirias at 2:45 PM on April 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think an episode of the SyFy show Killjoys fits the bill. The show is set in a system with 4 planets and cheap space travel (in-system, at least). The nicest planet is run by the hyperwealthy who wield all the power because the entire system is controlled by a corporation.

In the 1st Season, 4th episode "Vessel," the main trio, who are nominally bounty hunters, are hired by one of the more powerful of the hyperwealthy women to move some precious cargo, a surrogate mother who is based at a hidden temple full of surrogates. The surrogates are isolated to keep them clean and pure in an otherwise toxic planet in order to birth the children of the ruling elite whose heredity, both genetic and legal, must be protected from outside control.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Alien-universe movie Prometheus involves the main heroine Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace, getting a machine-driven C-section to remove the alien parasite in her womb; she was impregnated with it via sex with another crewmember who had been infected by the alien's embryonic form, or something like that.

The "Dune" books refer to a race of humans called the Tleilaxu or Bene Tleilaxu, who have dedicated themselves to the science of genetic engineering. They are also paranoid, isolationist, theocratic, authoritarian, and very underhanded; IIRC they have eschewed sex as well. The fate of their women is unsettling: What little is also known is that they have essentially transformed all of their women into functional bioreactors for their genetic products. Their women (never seen by outsiders), are brain-dead and vastly-gene altered out of humanity. They are called Axlotl Tanks, and they are used as wombs give birth to replacement eyeballs (which likely transmit information to Tleilaxu agents), to face-dancers (humans who can rapidly change their physical appearance, built for spying), and gholas, the cloned bodies of dead people apparently with souls intact (believed to be controlled by the Tleilaxu and informing them of all they see).
posted by Sunburnt at 3:06 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

In season 4 of Deep Space Nine, Keiko O'Brien's baby was transferred into Kira's body for... some space plot. I think Keiko was injured? (The meta reason was to accommodate Nana Visitor's actual pregnancy.)
posted by lovecrafty at 3:35 PM on April 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

"Caviar" by TC Boyle is about a couple and their surrogate. It is in his collection, Greasy Lake.
posted by nantucket at 3:38 PM on April 10, 2019

The Gate to Womensland or something like that I think was a feminist take on the concept of forced surrogacy.
posted by executive_dysfuncti0n at 3:58 PM on April 10, 2019

The Gate to Womensland or something like that I think was a feminist take on the concept of forced surrogacy.

The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper?

Not really surrogacy, as I believe the children were the genetic offspring of the women who carried them. Although...so were the children in the Handmaid's Tale. So.
posted by Preserver at 5:19 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I remember in an episode of Sliders they went to a world where women couldn't carry a baby to term anymore, so the fetus had to be transplanted into a man partway through the pregnancy.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 5:31 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I haven’t watched the TV series of The Handmaid’s Tale but in the book the Handmaids are impregnated and give birth to their own biological children, they are just “legally” considered the children of their mistresses.
posted by Hypatia at 7:47 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

“The Winds of Harmattan” by Nnedi Okorafor is a short story that may or may not fit the bill for you
posted by raccoon409 at 8:16 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Junior featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger?
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:38 AM on April 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Kelly Link has a beautiful & eerie story called "The Lesson" that’s partly about surrogacy. It’s in Get in Trouble, and for those who might expect to be squicked out, it doesn’t have visceral/horror elements directly related to the pregnancy itself.
posted by miles per flower at 11:37 AM on April 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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