I'm trying to remember a story about a couple who have a designer baby.

The story is written in the first person as a series of letters or possibly e-mails from the baby's mother to a friend. It starts quite innocently with the mother saying how great it is that genetic diseases can be eliminated before birth. However, with subsequent letters it becomes clear that the baby is being treated as a pet or plaything rather than a human being. For example, the parents have the baby treated to retard growth so they can have a cute baby for longer rather than a stroppy two year old.

It's a horrifying story because the callousness of the parents only becomes apparent gradually. It's only towards the end you realise how appalling the situation is.

I read this in an anthology, and it was in the last thirty years. However I'm afraid I can't remember anything else about it. I was reminded of the story by the question A short story about baby on/off switch and it's possible it's the same story. However I don't remember anything about an on-off switch in the story I'm thinking of.

2 Answers 2


"Pursuit of Excellence" by Rena Yount is about two parents who already have a natural child and want to engineer the second. But considering the costs, the parents eventually become divided on what extent they'll go to make it happen. The story plays out the pros and cons of engineered children in this future society through a series of scenes (not letters). It includes discussion with a sister, but again, not in letter format. Sounded very similar to what you were describing, and I first read it in an anthology SCIENCE FICTION, SCIENCE FACT, AND YOU.

  • 1
    Thanks, I'll try to find a copy. Aug 17, 2018 at 14:51
  • I found a copy in The Year's Best Science Fiction 2nd Annual Collection edited by Gardiner Dozois, but sadly it is not the story I'm looking for. Aug 17, 2018 at 16:00

Peter Hamilton's pithy "The Forever Kitten" is not a story of letters, but is told in the first person. It uses many of the same themes you are talking about. The story is available on line from Nature

  • Thanks, though that isn't the story I'm thinking of. Jun 17, 2016 at 4:59

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