I'm pretty sure I read this in the late 1980s to the early 1990s in Ashland, KY, in an anthology of science fiction. Someone was sent in to investigate crimes at a facility for designer babies. I don't remember if there had been an actual murder, destruction of property, or simply too many accidents. I have a vague memory of them suspecting religious terrorists, possibly with the investigator being pressured to pick them as suspects because they made for the right narrative. I'm pretty certain that the babies were described as being gestated in glass jars in racks, complete with an evocative scene of sabotage with broken glass and fluid on the floor. The investigator manages to figure out who the suspect is.

It's one of the doctors, who I want to say was not Caucasian, who claimed that he was trying to draw attention to the fact that parents were practicing passive eugenics by eliminating traits they found less desirable, resulting in too much homogeneity among the children.

After the suspect is taken away by the police, while everyone is congratulating themselves on finding the culprit and safely locking them away, the investigator looks at the rack and muses that every one of the growing babies he can see has blond hair, pale skin, and blue eyes.

  • Do you remember what religion the suspected terrorists belonged to, even vaguely? Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 18:24
  • Oh, heck. I've read this. Now I've got to go find it. It is in a book or magazine I have here somewhere.
    – JRE
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 18:43
  • @MissMonicaE: Unfortunately, I do not remember that. Probably radical Christianity given the subject of human experimentation. They're usually the ones invoked.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 18:58
  • @JRE: Any luck?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 18:02
  • 1
    Has anyone thought of "Braver, Newer World" by Harry Harrison? Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 4:55

1 Answer 1


For the record, Covertwalrus had it correct. It is indeed "Brave Newer World" by Harry Harrison. I likely read it in Stainless Steel Visions. It has the sabotaged bottles and an ending revealing that the motivation was preventing the creation of a world of blue-eyed blond children.

I have found that I misremembered part of the premise. The bottles were apparently just failing at first, not being obviously destroyed. Defective valves delivering the wrong doses of chemicals, killing off one or two dozen bottles at a time. The villain is introduced early on, arguing about how the eugenics going on to pick "good genes" paid little attention to diversity, while another doctor agonizes over how she wants to think of the bottled fetuses as people who'd had their lives snuffed out when obviously she should believe them to just be cell lines. Other aspects of the futuristic world include "kidney pills" and diagnostic machines which have rendered doctor visits into placebo demonstrations, complete with an artificially chilled stethoscope that's plugged up with wax so that the doctor's not distracted by an actual heartbeat, since analysis machines do all of the work. Geriatrics is highly advanced, with the treatments being more available to people with fewer children, sharply dropping the "natural" childbirth rate. The protagonist is one of the remaining doctors, contacted by an FBI agent who is there to inspect the bottle failures (10 times that of other new cities), because the government has invested a lot of money in the process. There's a scene at a hip "ethnic" restaurant with the female doctor and her husband that throws a number of non-white ethnicities together from the black manager to the Native American drummer to the Hawaiian dancer, and indicates that natural childbirth is possible, still at an advanced age, but the health system pushes towards people donating their sperm and ova to be used on the bottle babies, again by controlling the health care.

Shortly thereafter, the previously mentioned female doctor finds smashed up bottles, with a hammer lying amongst them. She's caught on the scene by the FBI agent, who seems convinced she is the perpetrator. It soon becomes revealed that her husband is having an affair with a black secretary in the office. Analysis of the names involved in the destroyed bottles are revealed to not belong to donors with Afrikaaner or Negro (the terms used in the story) names but instead to Italian, Irish, Anglo-Saxon, and German names.

Dr. Livermore, the doctor introduced at the beginning, is confronted, and he admits that he was the one who was destroying the bottles after the agent suggests him as a likely subject due to the fact that no bottles with ethnic names have been destroyed, and that he is on the record as stating that ethnic minorities are being discriminated against. He admits to the crime, and goes on a short diatribe about how he tried to influence gene selection legally, but found that no matter how hard he tried, the government kept predominantly selecting white donors as the ones with "correct" genes to be included in the banks. When told that he'll quietly be released from his job to prevent this from becoming publicly known, he insists that he will make a stink about it publicly, forcing this into a court case, and that they have no way of preventing him from doing it, since they have no actual evidence against him (he'd avoided leaving records, and had sabotaged the recording device the agent thought was running). The story ends with the female doctor and her husband reconciling, and the owner of the ethnic restaurant deciding to move into bagels because it was what the growing white population desired.

So, ultimately, I was wrong on several points. There were no terrorists, no invocation of religion, and nobody learns a lesson from it.

  • Glad you found it. Now I know why I didn't find it in my stuff. I had "Stainless Steel Visions" in my hands and thought "Nope, not a stainless steel rat story" and put it down.
    – JRE
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 10:35

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