This question already has an answer here:

I remember reading a story in which unwanted infants were sold as food in open markets, although I don't think that was the main theme of the story. It was published in a monthly science fiction magazine (i.e. Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Astounding Stories, etc), so it could have been a short story, novella, or serial. It was in English. I think it was in the 1970's, but I've been reading science fiction since 1954 and it could have been anytime since then.

I thnk they were sold alive. I don't know why they were sold. They were infants, i.e. under a year old. The planet was not Earth. The inhabitants were intelligent, but I don't recall whether they were native or colonists. I remember a scene in which a woman was grocery shopping and checked an infant's leg for tenderness by squeezing it.

marked as duplicate by Möoz, Blackwood, Politank-Z, Dave Johnson, Ward Nov 6 '17 at 2:12

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 3
    I thnk they were sold alive. The only other detail I recall is that it didn't take place on Earth. I remember a scene in which a woman was grocery shopping and checked an infant's leg for tenderness by squeezing it. – PB-D Nov 2 '17 at 1:12
  • 1
    This story sounds really 'wrong'. Interesting, but 'wrong'. – Möoz Nov 2 '17 at 1:19
  • 1
    No arguement there, Mooz. I just need to track it down so I can get it out of my head. I'm also hoping it's not as 'wrong' as I remember it being. – PB-D Nov 2 '17 at 1:30
  • 1
    Thank you, user14111. I'm still learning how to use this website. – PB-D Nov 2 '17 at 1:45
  • 3
    In the book Courtship Rite they bought babies at the market for like wedding feasts etc. That was set on another planet where the human settlers had turned to cannibalism. Lots of short chapters and some were almost small stories on their own. It was written first as a serial in Analog in the early eighties. – DannyMcG Nov 2 '17 at 2:48

A couple of the comments have mentioned the book Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury, and it does sound very similar to your description. But I cannot find any scene where a woman buying a baby squeezes it to check for tenderness.

The background is a vaguely Arabian Nights setting. There is a tribe called the Kaiel (named after an insect) who eat humans of low kalothi - I can't remember exactly how kalothi is defined but it's basically genetic fitness.

The Kaiel have also bred monster-women specifically for the task of producing children for meat. I'm not sure it is ever explained exactly what these are, though I'd guess they are humans bred for the purpose.

There isn't a lot said about the selling of babies at the market because it isn't a major focus of the book, and as I mentioned above I can't find any scene like the one you describe. There is a scene where the carcass of one of the monster-women is being butchered for sale:

Oelita asked to see the back room where the meat was prepared. She spoke to the butchers gently, never showing her mind, searching theirs. They were jovial about their task as they prepared the carcass of a “machine,” the name the Kaiel seemed to have given the genetic monster-women who bore the babies for the creches.

“Ye covet a block o’ that thigh? Cost ye an arm and a leg, it will.” He laughed.

“Was she very old?”

“This un, ye’ll have’t’ boil. She mebe 30-40 chile down the road.”

Or another scene:

Oelita was curious to visit the meat market. No such place existed in Sorrow. There the only meat was given away at the Temple when it was freshly available, or one waited to be invited to a funeral. Here it was sold by the temples at atrocious prices. Noe bought a small jar containing two pickled baby tongues.

But that's the closest I could find.

It's also worth noting that the book was published in 1982 so it's at the edge of your time frame.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.