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art by Seth Alan Bareiss

Unnatural Family Planning

Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she's not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. You can see more of her work at nickydrayden.com. Read other stories in her Future of Future Planning sequence.
First of all, I want to thank you for allowing me into such an intimate moment of your lives. The sensual act of creating life is a delicate dance, and it is important that you stay in sync as a couple, every moment, every breath until the final moment of ecstasy that will change both of your lives forever. Don't worry, I am here to aid you in this miraculous journey, where I will choreograph your every move and answer any and every question you could possibly have. No need to be shy or bashful, I am the resident Sexpert here, after all, going on fifteen years. I promise you, no matter how embarrassing the question, I've heard it before.
Why don't you two get comfortable while I set up my equipment? Yes, well, unfortunately, it is required that I stay for the duration of the session. How else are you going to know what to plug where? There's quite a bit of baby-making apparati, but once you two get going, you won't even realize it's in the room. Or me for that matter. Okay, almost ready. Heh, hard to believe that life begins with just one tiny little, itty-bitty, tinsy-wincy prick.
Oh, sir! Sorry if I have offended you. Maybe that was a poor choice of words. I'm really not sure why you chose to disrobe in the first place. I certainly didn't instruct you to! What I meant, is that I need each of you to place your thumbs here so I can get a genetic sample. Just a drop of blood from each of you, and then I'll bring up a virtual representation of your state-of-the-art artificial womb, where you will have 24-hour access to see your fetus grow. You can be there virtually for every kick, hiccup, and yawn. It's fully interactive. You can press this button to hum to your little one, this button to sing, and this lever setup allows you to rub the womb. And with this mic--
The cost? How can you put a price on connecting with your unborn child? Well, I do believe there are payment plans available. Not quite sure how that works. Honestly, it's not often that someone of your financial status wins the Procreation Lottery. No, I'm definitely not saying that it's rigged. Classism? Um, maybe we should just skip along to the next step....
One cell, two cells, four, and eight... okay, let's speed things up a bit. Handsome little embryo. Let's see. We're definitely going to want it to have your nose. And of course it will have your eyes. And it looks like we're going to have to dig a little deeper in your genome for a suitable jawline.... Yes, I know looks aren't everything, but we automatically screen out all genetic diseases, and maximize intelligence, athleticism, and artistry... all within the limitations of your own genetic code of course. And trust me, there's a lot of wiggle room in your genes. My last appointment managed to pull a 6 foot 7 female out of their code, and neither of them was a hair over 5'3". Overcompensating, if you ask me! But the options are endless. Vestigial tail? Not so vestigial anymore! Fur, opposable toes. Gills are a popular choice these days... gentrifying the flooded towns along the coast, and all.
What do you mean, you'd be more comfortable leaving it to chance? Well, I suppose I could send your sequences through a random generator. Just a sec... okay, now for the moment of ecstasy! I want you to take a deep breath, and together press this button to implant the cell mass into your artificial womb.
I'm not understanding your question. What do you mean "the old fashioned way," like with test tubes and petri dishes such? You want to put what where? No, that can't be right. Yes, I really AM a Sexpert, and in my fifteen years here, I have never heard of something so... so completely and utterly unnatural!
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014


Recently, I read an article about how the Japanese are using robots for eldercare, and it got me thinking about how different the world will be when I enter into my golden years. How do we go about retirement planning when human cloning will likely be a viable option? What degrees should we encourage our children to pursue when robots are competing for the best jobs? After bouncing some ideas off my coworker and critique group, I decided to explore the popular science fiction tropes that are rapidly becoming our new reality, and in doing so, I realized that you can't adequately plan for YOUR future without planning for THE future.

- Nicky Drayden

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