Escape Artists
December 21, 2014, 01:38:27 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3 4  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP127: Results  (Read 17352 times)
Russell Nash
Guest
« on: October 12, 2007, 02:49:22 AM »

EP127: Results

By Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Read by Heather Welliver (of A.D.D.Cast and Grailwolf’s Geek Life).
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 2000.
 Special closing music: “Faithful” by The Shillas.

She should have called her folks last night. They paged her three separate times after the test. But she wanted to wait until she had results, until she had something new to say instead of going over the same old arguments. She’s twenty-five, old enough to make her own choices. Old enough to make her own mistakes.

Her parents thought the testing was mistake number one. It certainly was expensive enough, but the doctor said he advised it for any couple about to get married. If they’re genetically incompatible, he’d said, they have the choice of terminating the relationship, planning for an expensive future, or tying tubes — practicing irreversible infertility, as one of her friends called it.

Options. That’s what her parents don’t get. It’s all about options.

And results.


Rated PG. Contains serious themes involving family planning and childbearing.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2007, 07:58:56 AM »

Beautifully written, compelling characters, intriguing story. 

The emphasis on IQ distracted me from the story a bit - what exactly would an IQ of 120 or more mean in a society this obsessed with having perfect children?  But otherwise loved the story.
Logged
TechNoir
Extern
*
Posts: 10


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2007, 08:01:39 AM »

someone once said that scifi is not about the future but the present. This is a strong example of this. The emotional note of this story resonates with anyone who has looked with uncertainty on their future. Do I have kids? Will I make a good father? Can I afford them? Will my kids have my problems? 

This story takes that fear and projects with the very real changes in what we will be able to do soon in medical testing. This was a really good story and I enjoyed it.
Logged

Never be so enamored with your own cleverness so as to stop and watch it.
Russell Nash
Guest
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2007, 08:47:08 AM »

The emphasis on IQ distracted me from the story a bit - what exactly would an IQ of 120 or more mean in a society this obsessed with having perfect children? 

I think the point was that in this world 120 has now become the new average.  If they don't have at least 120, the kid's an idiot.

Logged
Russell Nash
Guest
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2007, 08:57:47 AM »

This story shows what is probably the inevitable future of having kids.  It will be the conclusion of decades of the Lake Wobegon effect.  Everybody thinks their kid is special.  In the future they'll garantee that their kid IS special.

On a side note I liked that the story seemed to say that brown hair and blue eyes are preferred.  My kids and I all have brown hair and blue eyes. Grin
Logged
tdmca
Extern
*
Posts: 5


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2007, 09:09:50 AM »

I have always found stories like this disturbing.  I have a four year old son.  Yes he has some things that in a world like the one in the story would see as undesirable, but he is my son, I love him and there is nothing that will change that.  It would be a shallow person that would look at their child and think "I wish you were smarter", "better looking" or "more athletic".  Children are not things for us to shop for and find the "best" one.  They are apart of us even with their imperfections.

After a hard day there is no better cure than his smile and a hug.
Logged

__________
Terry

Never Was
http://www.mcleanweb.ca/neverwas
raygunray
Peltast
***
Posts: 90


Sundae, bloody Sundae


WWW
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2007, 09:39:46 AM »

My wife and I are planning a child, the idea of which is revolutionary.  We are planning a child like we would plan an addition to the living room or a trip overseas.  My parents didn't plan for me, nor did their parents.

This story hits home for me because it encapsulates my fears of unplanned effects of having a child.  Will he/she be smart or slow.  Will he/she inherit the touch of madness rife in one side of my family and somewhat native to me.  Will he/she have one of those rare diseases which means he/she will have little chance to live to adulthood.  Then I read the papers about sex predatators and the multiplicity of dangers in our world. And will the world end soon and bringing a child into the End of All Things is indirect sadism (I can thank my Pentacostal upbringing for that.)?

Someone upthread said such concerns are shallow, but really they are deep felt.  We want the best children we can have.  Once genetic resequencing technology becomes a reality, you can expect affluent parents to upgrade their child to near perfection.  And poor and middle income parents would mortgage themsleves into abject poverty just so their offspring can be the next Nobel Laurete.
   
Logged

Diabetic in Candyland -
Stories about Winning at Losing and Failing Successfully.
Outcast
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2007, 10:24:53 AM »

I can understand the application of genetic research to help eliminate many of the diseases that make life hell for kids.  However, it saddens me to think that our society would have the gaul to use that same benevolent intention for the technology to turn pre-natal clinics into Build-A-Kid Workshops.

This story actually brought to mind those parents who push their kids obsessively...you know, the ones you see on the news from time to time, screaming at coaches and referees because little Johnny's not getting the play time the parents think he deserves?  Parents like that would be all over technology like this, building the next Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan just so they can show him/her off to their peers.

I'd love to have kids someday.  My wife and I were nearly blessed until a miscarriage, but we're still hopeful.  While I'd like to know that my child will be free of diseases or disabilities that could hold him back, I'm also ready to accept whatever comes, because bringing kids into the world isn't about competing with your peers to see who has the 'better' or 'smarter' child.  It's about two people loving each other enough to do it.  Sometimes that love is a challenge, but it's worth it because of the reward in the end.

Hmmm...don't know if this is really a review of the story or just a rant.  Meh...first post ever...I'll get better as I go along Smiley
Logged
tdmca
Extern
*
Posts: 5


WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2007, 01:59:28 PM »

Someone upthread said such concerns are shallow, but really they are deep felt.  We want the best children we can have.  Once genetic resequencing technology becomes a reality, you can expect affluent parents to upgrade their child to near perfection.  And poor and middle income parents would mortgage themsleves into abject poverty just so their offspring can be the next Nobel Laurete.

Ray, I think that there is a difference between what you are going through and what I was referring to.  When we were planning on having our son we were concerned about what the impact would be.  I think that is part of going into it with our eyes open.  I want the best for my son and did so before he was born.

My comment was more looking at the child after they were born and wishing for them to be more than they are.  Before my son was born I feared that he would have some fatal illness or debilitating illness, but I knew that I would love him regardless.  In the end it turns out that he is short and has some skin issues.  There are much worse things, and he is happy and, at the end of the day the fact that he is happy makes me happy.
Logged

__________
Terry

Never Was
http://www.mcleanweb.ca/neverwas
contra
Peltast
***
Posts: 100



« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2007, 03:04:24 PM »

I have always found stories like this disturbing.  I have a four year old son.  Yes he has some things that in a world like the one in the story would see as undesirable, but he is my son, I love him and there is nothing that will change that.  It would be a shallow person that would look at their child and think "I wish you were smarter", "better looking" or "more athletic".  Children are not things for us to shop for and find the "best" one.  They are apart of us even with their imperfections.

After a hard day there is no better cure than his smile and a hug.

I don't have a kid.  A l;ittle young IMO, and I'm not wher enear ready to settle down with anyone.

I agree with this point though. 
While I do see why people would want all the info from the story; I don't think they should.  The ones who are shallow would make the smartest or prettiest kid, or at least try.  And sincethe whole story wasn't definates... only chances... if the kid turned out flawed, the kid would take the blame from that sort of parent.  It happens in todays world; in a world where you custom the Father to the kid you want, it would happen more.

Also there is the arguument about genetics and diversity, and compatability would recuce that, as things that were seen as bad would be removed. 

And people are influenced by fashon.  Look at how childrens names change over time... Imagine whole generations getting more athletic if a year previously the country did well at the olympics.  Or you have the failed parents who live their dreams through their kids, or at least try to; as someone pointed out above.  Pushy parents...

Basically,,, and i'm ranting for, and for that i'm sorry; there are far too many people who would abuse this, and not realise they were abusing it.  The form that this took in the story by the father was only one way; there are a thousand others that worry me more.

The story was good.  The potential father was an ass, but a relistic one.
Logged

---
Mike---Glasgow.  Scotland.-->
jeffwik
Extern
*
Posts: 8


« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2007, 05:46:37 PM »

I don't know if it was the rhythm of the story or the rhythm of the reader, but this was the first story I turned off partway through (at just over eight minutes in) in a long time... I'm tempted to say, ever.  It reminded me of Story Hour at a children's library, and not in a good way.  I can't comment on the content of the story because I found the aural experience so unpleasant.
Logged
Thaurismunths
High Priest of TCoRN
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1415


Praise N-sh, for it is right and good!


« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2007, 05:54:00 PM »

Terrific story, poor ending.

It was well written and wonderfully read.
I was disappointed that the author chose to re-state the point while still in character. The piece was written more than well enough to not need such a blunt summarization.

On to the meat...
Shwankie and I have "What If..." about children and all the testing we can do. We both agree that we'd like to be screened for major, serious genetic issues, and that we would like early pregnancy tests to make sure the child will be born in as good a health as is reasonable. We both support early term abortion for serious problems... but what is "serious"?
A 100% chance of autism could mean anywhere between mild Asperger's to full blown Autism. Is a 30% of Lou Gehrig's acceptable? Is 40%?
What if we get to know the eye color before birth?
What ramifications come with reducing the genetic variation of the gene pool like this?
There's a fine line between taking acceptable precautions to safeguard the wellbeing of your child, and ham-stringing Mother Nature.
Logged

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?
ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2007, 06:13:23 PM »

The emphasis on IQ distracted me from the story a bit - what exactly would an IQ of 120 or more mean in a society this obsessed with having perfect children?

I think the point was that in this world 120 has now become the new average.  If they don't have at least 120, the kid's an idiot.



That was what distracted me.  IQ scores are normative and frequently recalibrated. So if 120 were the new average, well, it would be 100.  See http://www.audiblox.com/iq_scores.htm.  If an IQ of 120 means the testee is smarter than all but 9% of the population, but many people won't even have a child unless their IQ is 120 or higher, how does that work, exactly?

This certainly was a minor distraction, and didn't keep me from enjoying this story immensely, disturbing as its message was to me.
Logged
Monty Grue
Extern
*
Posts: 18



« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2007, 06:37:50 PM »

I think the story fails for a number of reasons, but mostly for a tiresomely sentimental attitude towards children and an absurd analogy of a near genius level IQ somehow being sub par.  However, if we take the premise of a 120 IQ being the new average with a subsequent increase of complexity in society and living demands fully utilizing the advancement of intelligence, then desiring not to have less than average or just average children can be better understood.  For example, suppose a couple today were to receive a reliable analysis reporting their children would have a 46% chance of have an IQ above 100, then that might give them pause to reconsider.  That is a 54% chance of having an IQ less than or maybe equal to 100.  If potential parents were bluntly told your kid will have a 54% of an IQ below 100, many would stop and rethink having that child.  While many people have happy lives with an average intelligence, it isn't unreasonable for parents to want something more than average for their kids, especially if other options are readily available, and there isn't even a bun in the oven yet. 

Nevertheless, the whole 120 IQ thing in the story just did work, and came off absurdly.
Logged
Russell Nash
Guest
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2007, 02:04:47 AM »

The question really is: where is the line?  What is acceptable to genetically "weed out". 

My cousin died last year from cystic fibrosis.  His entire life was a battle.  He ended up having a pretty good life, but with far too many long term stays in the hospital and other "inconvienences". 

My brothers and I were able to screen for CF.  I think everyone agrees that was the smart thing to do.  But where is the line between serious illness and not serious illness and frivilous parental demands?  If you could make your child healthier, smarter, or more athletic, what parent would say no? 

These are all questions that we avoided, but only just avoided.  In a few years there will be a much longer list of genetic screenings.  By the time my kids have kids designer babies will be possible and probably relatively cheap.  Then what?
Logged
bolddeceiver
Matross
****
Posts: 226


Plunging like stones from a slingshot on mars...


« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2007, 02:45:46 AM »

The numbers didn't ring mediocre to me.  "36% chance of having artistic talent, acting talent, musical talent... 24% chance of having strong athletic ability" sounds pretty good to me.  Maybe it's a question of degree, how you define "strong athletic ability," or "artistic talent." Or maybe it's a question of changing standards.

Either way, this story really didn't do it for me.  It seemed like a trite rehash of an overdone scenario, with nothing new to offer.  And the stereotypical gender dichotomy was completely predictable from the start.  I guess this bothers me the way some people were bothered by Nancy Kress's stories Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Margin of Error.  The female viewpoint character with the deep-hidden maternal feelings, siding with the natural order; the man who just doesn't get those feelings, and choses to side with newfangled technology; it was all just too obvious.  This story just didn't seem to offer anything new.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2007, 02:54:52 AM by bolddeceiver » Logged
webrat
Extern
*
Posts: 5


« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2007, 04:20:09 AM »

this story hit me on a personal level, as i was screened for the 'probability' of having a child with severe learning disability. the test was rather basic, but the result was that at the age of 15, i was told that i should never have kids.
  i've grown, and have accepted this, but for a different reason that this story doesn't touch upon, the child's welfare. whilst you could look at someone with a learning disability (an extreme example, but apt i feel) as a 'burden' on society, why not turn it around and look at the society which cannot seem to tolerate difference or exceptions?
  my personal opinion is that it would be unfair to the child to bring them into a society which, despite wonderful intentions by a good few, can also be disfavourable towards them. from lack of funding to services, to having to deal with people on the street staring or whispering, to minimal opertunities for work and recreational activities.
  so that is out world, at the moment. it is getting better, little by little, but at this current time, i have no intention of subjecting a child who may or may not be disabled to it.
  moving back to the story. again i feel the intolerance displayed for average doesn't really endear me to the characters nor the society they inhabit. i would ave liked to have more interactionfrom the parents, who might have been able to express the differing opinions and give the story a little more balance, and make the lead characters change of heart a bit more realistic.
 
enjoyable, emotive but i feel i would have been drawn to a longer short story better, possibly deleving into the wealth gap between those who could afford the genectic modifications and those could not, the stigma of being imperfect (or in this case average) and the reprecusions of having limited genetic deversity (ie, a disease affecting everyone with the non-alcoholic gene implanted or similar).
  lots of room for exspansion, and such a story deserves credit. you don't give second thought to a world that didn't grab you.
Logged
ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2007, 10:04:23 AM »

The question really is: where is the line?  What is acceptable to genetically "weed out". 

Precisely.  And wherever we draw the line today, I have no doubt it will be drawn quite further out in the next few generations. Right now much of the discussion here has focused on developmental disabilities and debilitating conditions.  I expect it won't be long before the general consensus is that you take reasonable steps to prevent such conditions [at least the most severe among them], up to and including abortion [though there will always be those who do not accept abortion under any circumstances].  I wonder if by then the main discussion won't have switched to some of the topics in this story, and some others.  What if tests can predict the future sexual orientation of a fetus or a potential fetus?  I am reminded strongly here of one of the flash stories in the contest earlier this year, the theme of which was that the world at present is full of discrimination against those who do not fall in the mainstream, and as a parent you can be certain that your child will have a more difficult row to hoe if they are not heterosexual.  But does that mean we stop trying to change society?  That we all become more or less the same rather than face adversity, or have our children face adversity?  Difficult questions, to say the least. 
Logged
Czhorat
Peltast
***
Posts: 135


« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2007, 10:44:41 AM »

I very much liked this story. The characters and their relationship rang true to me. Although it was a relationship that ultimately fell apart, I felt that Ms. Rusch did a better job of describing a romantic relationship than, for example, Silverberg did in "N+1, N-1". I agree with those who say that the percentages felt a bit off, but I saw that as part of the story's charm; this couple wanted the extraordinary. Just a fifty-fifth chance of birthing a super-genius wasn't enough. They wanted as close to a sure thing as possible. In many ways they were struggling along, but society and the media and modern education had shown them that perfection was possible, so that's the target at which they were shooting.

For me there was a bit of irony in that the awaited-for results did give the narrator a real answer, but it was about her present relationship more than about the not-yet-conceived offspring. She learned something about how her mate saw himself and, more importantly, about what he wanted in an offspring. We saw a child as a reflection of himself and his own status more than as a new individual. To me this realization, even if not explicitly stated, was the real "result".
Logged

The Word of Nash is the word of Nash and it is Nash's word.
Loz
Lochage
*****
Posts: 369


WWW
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2007, 12:17:34 PM »

I should have disliked this story a lot more than I actually did, yet again we have a relationship story between a man and a woman, yet again it works on the assumption that marriage and babies is the norm future development for that relationship and yet again, the man falls short of what the woman is looking for.

Yet, strangely this story didn't annoy me, in fact I quite liked this story, even though the theme wasn't that original either. I've passed the age my father was when he and my mother had their first child (me) and, although I've chosen a different path to them, and don't regret that choice, I am still sometimes aware of the hand of heteronormative conformity asking me where MY wife and MY children are, and sometimes I forget for a second I have nothing to apologise for. So I guess this resonates with me for slightly different reasons.

I think the story did have it's flaws, it did seem that society was already segregated between the genetic haves and have nots, the narrator seems completely oblivious to her prejudice against the less-than-perfect even after she has to face the prospect that her assumed right to breed would add to them. In order to make her point the author makes her male figure too much of a jerk, I can't believe that he'd rather break up than consider trying to save for genetic modification, or why don't they consider themselves like couples that can't conceive, and adopt? Surely it's possible to write short science fiction stories, about relationships, without having to make one of the characters such a jerk that you question what the other character saw in them in the first place?
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 4  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!