Jilly: Which Story Would You Tell?

“Where do you get your ideas?” is supposedly the question most asked of successful authors.

I collect and hoard story starters from here, there and everywhere (Alexis grew from the juxtaposition of two fascinating anecdotes shared by my hairdresser), but my all-time favorite source is the BBC website.

Most weeks I stumble across something weird or wonderful that makes my brain fizz. I bookmark them in a folder called ‘story stuff’ and forget about them until I’m looking for ideas or inspiration or just something a little different to get the wheels turning.

I had one of those days today, so I took a stroll through my story stuff file. There are more than a hundred nuggets in there, but here are a trio of good ones.

A sci-fi classic:

Making Babies Without Eggs or Sperm

Click here for an article on experiments carried out by scientists at the University of Bath, who managed to persuade mice sperm to fertilize ‘pseudo embryo’ cells rather than eggs.

Speculating on the wider implications of their work, one of the researchers explained that in the distant future it might be possible for sperm to combine with ordinary cells in the body to create a child. Which could exclude women entirely from the reproductive process. Two men could have a baby without the need for a female cell, or a man could even fertilize his own cells to make a sort of non-identical twin.

The article also makes reference to a separate line of research being pursued in China, where scientists were able to make sperm from stem cells. Combine the two fields of research, and it might become possible to create a child without the need for sperm or eggs.

Setting aside for a moment all scientific, political and ethical considerations, the story potential here is endless, and not only for sci-fi fans.

Or here’s something historical and/or paranormal:

Bodies really were decapitated to stop the dead rising

Human bones excavated by Historic England and researchers from Southampton University from a deserted medieval village at Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire show that corpses were decapitated, mutilated and burned to stop people rising from the dead. Knife marks were found on 137 bones dating from the 11th to the 14th century. Click here to read the full story.

Whoo! Vampire village, anyone?

Or how about an adventure/suspense mystery:

World War 2 Shipwrecks disappear from Java seabed

Click here for an article about two Dutch ships, three British ones, and a US submarine, which were sunk by the Japanese navy during the Second World War, and which have apparently disappeared from their resting places on the seabed in Java.

Quite apart from the distressing suggestion that sailors’ graves have been disturbed, the article suggests that the ocean is so deep it would have been impractical and nigh-impossible to salvage the wrecks. And yet there are apparently large holes in the seabed where the ships had previously rested.

I’m thinking James Bond, or even better, something Clive Cussler-esque?

I’m intrigued by all these ideas, but my imagination is especially piqued by the idea that we truly can anticipate a world where children could be created without women. What kind of children would they be? And in that very different world how would romance, and love, and great sex, survive?

Which story starter would you pick, and what kind of story would you tell?

4 thoughts on “Jilly: Which Story Would You Tell?

  1. Living here in teh U.S., where it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there’s a segment of the male population who genuinely hate and fear women, I’m intrigued by the babies-witiout-women scenario, but dystopian isn’t really my thing..

    This post made me go out and look at my various idea folders and documents and among them I found this: Her Mother Made Over or The Girl with the Great Personality. I have no idea what I meant by this, but I’m intrigued.

    • I’m intrigued by your titles, too, Jeanne! If you have a sudden flashback, please let me know.

      Funny thing is, there are some definite positives to the fertility research–no more childless couples or endless, expensive rounds of IVF–but like you, what I see is dystopia. The breakdown of families and relationships as we know them, even human beings becoming something entirely different, and who knows how babies will be made and who will control the process? I think my dystopian romance would be a bunch of renegades who (?) aren’t allowed to procreate, or aren’t allowed a choice of genetic partner, so they run away and found a rebel colony and have to reproduce in old, forgotten (forbidden?) ways while hiding from the Big Bad. I think they’d have fun 😉

  2. Funny—my first thought on the babies-without-women scenario was one of female empowerment. Without the biological necessity of bearing children, and the social necessity of rearing them, women would not be held back by lame male excuses that they aren’t serious about their careers. Also, they’d be less likely to die sooner, rather than later (just read a story that the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world is Texas). And so on.

  3. Let’s not forget, it would allow women to have babies with no men involved — and a lot of us are already carrying around the equipment to gestate said baby. Men would have to get a machine.

    I love Bujold’s explorations into this matter. She does the no-women thing with Ethan of Athos. After a couple of centuries, the original breeding stock has degraded, and there are too many birth defects, so our intrepid hero, Ethan the OB, goes out into the universe to find some more eggs. This scenario might make Ethan’s trip unnecessary, if the genetic diversity can be provided by two men.

    Society would definitely have to change if men were doing everything. I fear that women are still the nursing class. Some women could be exploited as babysitters for misogynists who don’t want womanly DNA, but also don’t want to change diapers or feed babies at 2 a.m.

    The other stories are quite taking, too. What if they didn’t cut the throats to keep them from rising? What if there was a mass murderer? What if these people had really horrible singing voices, and the only way to shut them up was to slit their throats? What if those weren’t cuts, but gills, and the people were from an alien race?

    (-: Who would steal two ships from the bottom of the ocean? Aliens! Merpeople! (horrified whisper) super-intelligent dolphins? Or octopuses, out to take over the world.

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