I'm a big Sherri S. Tepper fan. I think she's a great writer. But I wonder sometimes about the themes of separatism
and even eugenics
that run through her novels, mostly portrayed in a positive light. It was interesting to find out that she used to work for Planned Parenthood
, I think that explains a lot. (Not that Planned Parenthood would ever endorse eugenics, just that someone working there might see more than their fair share of unwanted and uncared for babies.)
In The Family Tree the leader of the last surviving group of humans (or so they think...) goes off on this diatribe about how terrible it was that humans used to let infants with genetic diseases live and even reproduce, and that humanity is paying the price now because they can't produce viable offspring anymore. And as much as I loved The Gate to Women's Country in a lot of ways, it was all about breeding aggressiveness out of men, and how this was the only real hope for civilization. Now, she does this really well, it's definitely subtle and well written, and the women in "Women's Country" feel really terrible about sending their sons off to die, but then they make the awful choice because the future of humanity is more important than individual emotions. It sometimes feels like a more sophisticated version of the Black Stork.
Want to hear the REALLY scary part? I find myself getting confused about what I really think on the subject. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready for mandatory contraception. But I start wondering whether this reproductive free-for-all is such a great idea. On the other hand, what's the alternative? Is it a good thing that an author makes me think, even about uncomfortable subjects? Or is it an insidious resurgence of the same old eugenics re-vamped with new arguments? I haven't decided yet.