Accounts that take Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) as representative of interwar reproductive dystopia fail to recognise that the novel expresses both an interest and an anxiety about the possibility of new reproductive technologies to transform sex, gender, and the family that were widely shared by writers in different genres and perhaps expressed best by those likely to be most affected: women. This article explores three earlier works—Charlotte Haldane's Man's World (1926), Vera Brittain's Halcyon, or the Future of Monogamy (1929), and Naomi Mitchison's Comments on Birth Control (1930)—in which pregnancy, instead of figuring as illness or debility, becomes a form of resistance to the status quo. These works engage with biomedicine, however, rather than abjuring it. Through a reading of these works, this article argues that the intersection of medical humanities and science fiction (SF) can enrich both: medical humanities can push SF to go beyond the canon, and SF can challenge any characterisation of literature in the medical humanities as purely fantastical by demonstrating how it responds to the hopes and anxieties of a particular time.
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Funding Research for this article was supported by the Wellcome Trust (a Leeds Humanities Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) under the Non-Clinical Researcher Transitional Funding Scheme at the University of Leeds).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.