That Only a Mother
by Judith Merril
A well-known geneticist, in the medical news, said that it was possible to tell with absolute certainty, at five months, whether the child would be normal, or at least whether the mutation was likely to produce anything freakish. The worst cases, at any rate, could be prevented. Minor mutations, of course, displacements in facial features, or changes in brain structure could not be detected. And there had been some cases recently, of normal embryos with atrophied limbs that did not develop beyond the seventh or eighth month. But, the doctor concluded cheerfully, the worst cases could now be predicted and prevented.
About the Author
Judith Merril was an American and then Canadian science fiction writer, editor and political activist, and one of the first women to be widely influential in those roles. In her mid-teens, Merril pursued Zionism and Marxism. According to Virginia Kidd’s introduction to The Best of Judith Merril, Ethel Grossman had been a suffragette, was a founder of the women’s Zionist organization Hadassah, and was “a liberated female frustrated at every turn by the world in which she found herself.” Judith Merril began writing professionally, especially short stories about sports, starting in 1945, before publishing her first science-fiction story in 1948. Her story “Dead Center” (1954) is one of only two stories taken from any science fiction or fantasy magazine for the Best American Short Stories volumes edited by Martha Foley in the 1950s. According to science fiction scholar Rob Latham, “throughout the 1950s, Merril, along with fellow SF authors James Blish and Damon Knight had taken the lead in promoting higher literary standards and a greater sense of professionalism within the field.” As an initiator of the New Wave movement, she edited the 1968 anthology England Swings SF. From the mid-1970s until her death, Merril spent much time in the Canadian peace movement, including traveling to Ottawa dressed as a witch in order to hex Parliament for allowing American cruise missile testing over Canada. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA renamed) made Merril its Author Emeritus for 1997 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted her in 2013.
About the Narrator
Dagny Paul is a lapsed English teacher, failed artist, and sometimes writer who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has an unhealthy (but entertaining) obsession with comic books and horror movies, which she consumes whenever her five-year-old son will let her (which isn’t often). Dagny is Assistant Editor of PseudoPod, and was guest editor for Pseudopod’s Artemis Rising 3 event in 2017.