When a science-fiction franchise and its writers love each other very much, sometimes they make a baby. Being a common enough aspect of human life, the birthing of babies happens all the time in movies and television, sometimes to actually introduce a new character, sometimes to develop the character of those involved. Often babies are catalysts for a fish-out-of-water character development; anyone else remember Lieutenant Worf's "Congratulations, you are fully dilated to 10 centimeters. You may now give birth?"

I want to examine the appearances of and phenomena surrounding birth and babies in science fiction. This is in no way a shameless reminder that the anniversary of my own birth is one week from today.

Not at all.

Alia Atreides, Dune

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Pregnant women have a whole host of things not to do while pregnant: Don't smoke, don't drink, don't do excessive amounts of intravenous drugs. Doctors should tack "don't drink the Water of Life" to that list, because that will mess your baby up. The Fremen find themselves in need of a new Reverend Mother, and Lady Jessica's the only Bene Gesserit around to undergo the spice agony. Sounds like fun, right? Turns out pregnant women should not ride the spice agony coaster, because all that sand worm bile will awaken the consciousness of the unborn baby, and make her susceptible to possession by ancestral personalities in utero.

Welcome to the world of Dune, y'all.

Alia Atriedes is Lady Jessica's baby, born with all the ancestral memories of a full Reverend Mother. The Bene Gesserit call these children Abominations, and usually kill them. They didn't get Alia, though, and she earns the nickname "St. Alia of the Knife" somewhere along the path to becoming a genuine Abomination. The world of Dune is particularly concerned with family, breeding, and mysticism, and Alia's shouldn't-have-happened-that-way birth holds long-lasting repercussions.

Connor, Angel

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Say I'm in charge of a popular fantasy television show. I've gotten myself to the point where there's a vampire, impregnated by another vampire, which is impossible. Exciting, right? I make the whole pregnancy tie in to a bunch of prophecies, and that ups the ante. I don't want the mother around, though, so I'll introduce some complications and have her give birth by staking herself through the heart, thereby disintegrating into dust around the baby. Oooh, that's interesting. I like that bit.

Problem is, with all these prophecies I've established, I'm going to need this kid to be walking and talking pretty soon, but he's a newborn baby. Hrm. Wait, I'll just send him to a demon dimension! I've already established that time works differently there, so I can send him off as a baby, wait a couple weeks, and when he comes back he'll be an exceptionally annoying teenager! Perfect.

Meet Connor, the human son of the vampires Angel and Darla. Connor has the distinct honor of being both my favorite and least favorite character on Angel: He was the Cutest Baby Ever, but once he grew up, I had to restrain myself from throwing a fist through my television set. Connor was an important catalyst for everything from Wesley's estrangement to Jasmine's ascension, but I still would have liked it better had he stayed an adorable little non-angsty baby. The circumstances surrounding his birth do represent a fascinating method of introducing an adult character, though, and took the audience by surprise as often as the characters.

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