“Auspicious Eggs” — James Morrow

James Morrow is the author of the Godhead trilogy and seven other novels, including the World Fantasy Award-winning Only Begotten Daughter, This is the Way the World Ends, The Last Witchfinder, and The Philosopher’s Apprentice. His novella Shambling Toward Hiroshima was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. His short fiction—which has appeared The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and in many anthologies—has been collected in Bible Stories for Adults and The Cat’s Pajamas & Other Stories.

Once a year, a person gets to celebrate a birthday.  For children, it’s the best day of the year.  For most adults, it’s something to pretend to forget or to celebrate with a quiet dinner out.  After all, a birthday only means another year tacked on to an already large number.  But no matter how old you are, a birthday is special because it marks the most important instance in a person’s life:  the moment of their birth.

In our next story, a birthday is hardly anything to celebrate.  Life is as rainy and drear as the climate.  The United States has been fragmented into a constellation of reefs and islands, the rest swallowed up by the rising oceans.  And a new kind of church has mandated that the lives of those already born are less important than the lives of those who are as yet unconceived.

Here is a place overflowing with babies, packed with pregnant women, smothered by the stench of dripping diapers.  It’s a world where a menopausal woman might be put to death and an infertile baby drowned, because those who can’t procreate are without value.