Bloodchild • 1984 • SF novelette by Octavia E. Butler



A man bears children – this idea led to Bloodchild, set on a foreign planet where humans are herded in Preserves: Insect-like alien Tlic children in the form of parasitic worms are planted in the abdomen of human males. The delivery is a bloody and horrific event witnessed by Gan who is the main protagonist of this coming-of-age story. Now, he has come to terms if he allows to be impregnated by his beloved Tlic female „T’Gatoi“ to secure his family’s status.


A grand setting with an impressive cultural interdependance, inversed gender roles; an interesting, fully realized character at the edge facing a crisis; a Game-of-Thrones worthy struggle for power.

Butler only gradually reveals the SF elements of foreign planet and dystopian setting. In the center, it is a human story: loss of childhood, rite of passage, coming of age which can be expected right from the first sentence: „My last night of childhood began with a visit home.“ It takes a couple of pages before one realizes, that humans are reduced to their function as bearer of children, status symbols, and political pawns in the Tlic society.

If only the details weren’t such horrific!

Meta: isfdb. This SF short story was published June 1984 in Asimov’s. I read it as part of Bloodchild and Other Stories. It won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. Available online.



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