“Amaryllis” — Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn is the bestselling author of the Kitty Norville series, which started with Kitty and the Midnight Hour. Her latest books are Kitty Goes to War; a young adult novel, Voices of Dragons; and a stand-alone fantasy novel, Discord’s Apple.  Her short work has appeared many times in Realms of Fantasy and in a number of anthologies, such as By Blood We Live; The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance; Fast Ships, Black Sails; and Warriors. She has a story forthcoming in my anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, and this story first appeared in my online science fiction magazine, Lightspeed.

Amaryllis” gives us a world that, compared to some dystopias, feels downright wholesome.  No one is tortured; no one lives under scrutiny; no one is executed.  But the characters are caught in a society that has taken away their reproductive control.  For most of us, that’s a pretty basic human right.

But there’s a good reason to take family size out of individual control, with the world’s population spinning out of control.  As the author says:  “in the industrialized world at least, a financially successful family or individual can stay pretty isolated from their community, if they so choose. But if there’s ever a cataclysmic loss of resources, that could change.”  And in the future Carrie Vaughn spins, a desperate community must contain its population—or die.

Our next story’s debatable dystopic quotient aside, this story explores the idea that while one never sets out to create a dystopia, in order for a society to survive, sometimes it is necessary to become one.