I'm trying to identify a short story that was probably written in the 1970s or 1980s—at least, well before today's more accepting attitude towards human sexuality and gender roles. It must have in part aimed for a shock value that has mostly dissipated today, leaving behind a sense of anger at the violation—at least in my memory.

Unfortunately, I don't recall if I read it in a magazine or an anthology. Here's what I do remember:

A woman is trying to get her domestic chores done, cooking, dishes, laundry, garden. There may be small children running around. But something is wrong. She is lonely and sad. Her husband pays no attention to her and she feels unloved. She is also very groggy, almost drugged.

Her husband tells her that she has emotional problems and that, other than her feelings, everything is fine. But as time goes on, it turns out that she is being drugged by her husband. Somehow, she finds a way to avoid the drugs without alerting him.

Spoilers below:

She realizes that she is actually a man and her "husband," perhaps a fellow crewman, has, without consent, surgically altered him with a uterus in order to bring to term frozen embryos.

As I remember it:

Their ship has crashed, with only the two of them left alive, and that their original mission had been the settlement of a habitable planet. I don't remember if they are on the same planet. Their ship had been stocked with the frozen embryos. The fellow crewman is trying to complete the mission the only way he knows how, but despises both of them as a result. "She" realizes that her life has been changed forever and finds the only solution available to her. She drugs her fellow crewman into believing that the two of them are actually husband and wife, happily married. Thanks to WhatRoughBeast for suggesting: Her final act is to drug herself.

I'm not sure how much I got right and how much my memory has strayed, but I'm hoping there's enough here to help someone ID the story.

  • 2
    I remember the story, but not the title. As I recall, her final act is to drug herself. Mar 22, 2016 at 22:50
  • @WhatRoughBeast - That feels right, thanks! Mar 22, 2016 at 22:50
  • 1
    Arg, I've read this one. PKD? Mar 22, 2016 at 22:55
  • 1
    @OrganicMarble - could be. The flavor (in my mind) doesn't quite match, but my mind isn't what it used to be. Mar 22, 2016 at 22:58
  • @WhatRoughBeast - added that to question with credit. Thanks. Mar 22, 2016 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


"Call Me Dumbo" by Bob Shaw. I have it in the anthology Tomorrow Lies In Ambush.

It ends:

Dumbo smiled as she watched the boys at play. She hoped the next child would be a girl because that was what Carl wanted more than anything in the world.

And all she wanted was to be his wife.

  • 1
    That was fast! Thanks. Mar 22, 2016 at 23:14
  • 8
    This story has a large helping of Extra Creepy. Mar 22, 2016 at 23:15
  • Bob Shaw came up with the idea of slow glass, didn't he? Mar 22, 2016 at 23:18
  • 3
    That's right - he's a favorite of mine, but I haven't read him recently. That's one of the things I like about story ID questions, gives me ideas for re-reading. Mar 22, 2016 at 23:19
  • 3
    Available at the Internet Archive.
    – user14111
    Mar 23, 2016 at 0:11

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