Monday, August 25, 2008

Controversy In Fiction

I'm not a particularly controversial person. I watch what I say, balance all sides of an issue before making a decision, and (in general) try not to offend people. So the plot of my most recent short story took me somewhat by surprise when it popped into my head.

The inspiration for this story came while I was talking to my boyfriend about world population growth. The conversation went something like this:

"Pretty soon, all countries are going to have a one-child policy like China."

"Yeah, I could see that happening."

"Wow. If you only get one child, you better make it a good one."

That got me to thinking. What if people in the U.S. could only have one child? What if they wanted to make that child 'a good one?' Currently, we can genetically test for a variety of diseases before a child is born. If the prognosis is not good, parents can choose to terminate the pregnancy rather than bring a severely disabled child into the world. What if this were taken to the extreme? What if parents tested for genetic predispositions towards intelligence, friendliness, and beauty, and made their decisions to keep a child or not based on those criteria?

As if that weren't controversial enough, what if, due to the pressures of a one-child policy and the quest for perfection, the decision deadline was raised to seven, eight, nine months - or beyond?

I don't want to write a controversial story just for the sake of writing a controversial story, or even to express my personal views. I just want to write it because it's in me, and because it will make people think. So, here's my question: is it better to hold a controversial story in and stick to more acceptable topics, or is it better to tell the story and risk the consequences?
Post a Comment