My brain works weird.
I was in the kitchen making dinner (and mentally writing Darkling, the sequel to Wraithkin), and my brain started thinking about my short story in the upcoming FREEHOLD anthology (ed. by Michael Z. Williamson).
There’s a part in the story (Magnum Opus) where it is revealed that my main character is gay. No big deal, he just wanted to be written that way (the four rough drafts that got tossed can affirm this). It was when I was thinking about my character when it dawned on me that I had written two more gay characters in the past as well. The first one was in Corruptor (good luck figuring that one out) and the second is in Wraithkin. The first one wasn’t a huge character, but the second one was a very important part of Wraithkin and was a central figure in the story.
Then my brain took one of those weird turns and I started asking myself “Is that what made him an Imperfect?”
In the “Dominion of Man” series, an Imperfect is a citizen of the Dominion of Man who was born with a genetic imperfection, be it a predisposition to cancer or something more serious, like Down Syndrome or Parkinson’s.
My first thought when I was outlining this series was “Why don’t they abort?” I mean, it’s the simplest and easiest way to ensure that the gene pool stays “pure”, right? I thought about it and decided that because of history, aborting a child (in their eyes) is a horrific thing and not even thought about. I haven’t decided what that event was yet, but it was serious enough for people to not even consider it.
Okay, so no abortions. So how do they ensure that the gene pool stays pure?
Genetic testing came immediately to mind. I figured that they were technologically advanced enough to be able to find any genetic issues by the child’s 3rd birthday. A resulting positive test would result in chemical castration for boys or surgical sterilization for girls to ensure that they cannot have any kids. The parents are also retested for any signs of genetic mutation, as are any other siblings. If another child tests positive, everyone in the family is subjected to what the child went through. Cruel, horrifying, but effective. It’s also why the population of the Dominion is a measly 100 billion spread out across 38 worlds and space stations.
But that got me thinking…
When I got into an argument about homosexuality and sin and whatever with a minister and a lesbian, I was more or less a spectator as the sparks flew between the other two. The minister (First Baptist) was adamant that homosexuality is a sin (we were born (according to dogma), therefor we’re sinners to start, so what’s the big deal?) while the lesbian was pretty much denouncing religion as a bunch of hocus pocus. It finally boiled down to “choice” vs. “design”. That was when I put my two cents in.
“If it’s by design and you have no choice in the manner, and we’re a species who are designed to sin and procreate, wouldn’t homosexuality be a genetic flaw? If is a choice, by your terms wouldn’t that mean that choosing a religion and being gay are both a mental disability?”
Let’s just say that neither party was polite while they started in on me.
I used that lesson in Wraithkin. In that universe, where genetic purity and procreation are sacrament, homosexuality would be considered a genetic flaw and the individual would be removed from the genetic pool through the methods I mentioned earlier.
Horrific? Sure, definitely, without a doubt. Unfeasible? Welllll…..
We’re already creating designer babies, are obsessed with flawless physical bodies, and shun those who are different (be it socio or physio). Our world is already on this path if you look at it with a truly open mind and not let any preconceived notions of individuality or personal rights distort your thought process. Hell, I know I would love to have children who had no physical ailments and were a lot cuter than I.
(Note to self: must find half-Viking, half-Jamaican goddess for procreation purposes only)
I’m hunting for an agent (despite me stating previously that I never needed one. Turns out, I need one)
I’m going to be chronicling my search for it here and at the Mad Genius Club. It will be enlightening and probably stretch across 6-8 months (unless I get very lucky). In the meantime I’m gearing up for basketball season and finishing Darkling and the secret collab project. Meanwhile, the agent hunt has begun. I never wanted an agent but after waiting in a slush pile for almost 2 1/2 years I decided that I wanted to cut to the front of the line. The best way to do that is to have an agent.
So… there we go.
4 thoughts on “The Absolute Purity of Genetics and Life”
Well, I happen to believe that sexual response is a learned behavior in human beings, rather like language–all humans have the ability to use language, but what they speak, read, and write is determined by how they are raised. So I don’t think that homosexuality is something that you can breed in or out of the species.
I don’t think it’s a simple or straightforward thing, though. Just like language acquisition involves not just deliberately teaching vocabulary and grammar but also much that is unconsciously picked up regarding context. So while a family may not intend to teach their children to be homosexual, the attitudes that are expressed may lead to the children learning it.
However, what if we turn your scenario around? Suppose that in addition to sterilizing those children who have genes that the rulers of the human race dislike, those children are also conditioned to not want children (to insure that they don’t attempt to get the sterilization reversed.)
And let’s further suppose that this conditioning includes teaching the children a non-reproductive sexual response. This would show up in slightly different ways in different people, but in general involve an aversion to standard heterosexual coitus.
Now, here’s the kicker. Genetic imperfects would not be allowed to do many jobs–whatever genes they are not allowed to pass on have to be undesirable in some way, right?–and so to survive many go into an illegal and underground form of entertainment, using their sexuality in bizarre sex shows.
Just random thoughts inspired by your essay. I could use that as the basis of a story.
Pretty much what I wrote in Wraithkin.
Families are taxed for having Imperfect children, most families give them up into “Holding Homes”, which are glorified orphanages that have a _lot_ of abuse within. Imperfects are unable to serve in the military save for the Wraith Corps.
Then, of course, are the political Imperfects — those who have somehow insulted the current Powers That Be — and might have reversible sterilizations. (F.M. Busby did something similar to this in his Rissa Kergulen series.) But would you tell the person their sterilization was reversible? No…
And then, there’s another fun fillip — sometimes, sterilization spontaneously reverses on its own. I don’t know how this happens, but here’s why I think it did in the women I knew; they were all under thirty, with endometriosis. The doctors did not want to do hysterectomies on women that young. They did tie the tubes off, but left everything in there…and at least one tube untied itself. (I know this because all three women got pregnant and had healthy children. It was considered a minor medical mystery at the time. Unfortunately, the endometriosis did not go away.)
In men, I do know that vasectomies can be “outgrown.” And again, you don’t want to take all the testosterone out of a growing male child or even a teenager — if you castrate the kid, chemically or otherwise, you end up with, at best, something akin to a castrato (male singers with terrifyingly high voices). At worst, you end up with young men who desperately want to have sex, but derive no pleasure in it…and then turn that desperation on themselves in odd ways (which I know you’ve already done, to an extent, in WRAITHKIN).
Even in the 17th and 18th Centuries, when there were still some castrati (singers) around, doctors did not want to castrate the youngsters until the first signs of puberty, most of the time. They recognized the dangers of it, even if they weren’t sure why. And by that point, the kid’s voice would’ve had to be spectacular to have ended up in that position at all…
Great post, Jason. (Disturbing, but great.)