As Christmas approaches, many prepare to celebrate the mystery of the virgin birth. Check out our list of science fiction's own examples of single-parent reproduction, from pre-programmed pregnancy to alien encounters and drug-induced parthenogenesis.
The Birth of Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars): Pulling a chapter from Joseph Campbell, George Lucas gave his tragic hero a mystical birth. Virginal slave Shmi Skywalker couldn’t figure out how she became pregnant with Anakin, who seemed to have no father. Qui-Gon Jinn realized that the midi-chlorians were likely responsible for Anakin’s conception and that the boy was the Force’s prophesized, albeit obnoxious, messiah.
Reproduction on Stratos (Glory Season by David Brin): Lysos, the founder of the colony on Stratos, is a genetic engineer who creates a new strain of human being. Humans may reproduce sexually, or women may reproduce parthogenetically, creating a society that is largely female. But this leads some of the women of Stratos to wonder why they need men at all.
The Birth of the Children (The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, adapted as Village of the Damned): After everyone in the town of Midwich falls unconscious, all the women of childbearing age find themselves suddenly and mysteriously pregnant. The Children are all born on the same day and appear human except for their strange hair and eyes. It soon becomes clear that these evil, telepathic Children are being born all over the world in an attempt at subtle invasion.
Reproduction on the Virgin Planet (Virgin Planet by Poul Anderson): After a spaceship full of female explorers crash on an uncharted planet, the survivors set up a new society and develop a way to reproduce through parthenogenesis. Generations later, descendants of the female colonists have never seen a man and the powerful doctors hold the secrets to parthenogenesis. But when a lone man lands on the planet, many of the women are eager to try an alternative method of reproduction.
The Birth of the Alien Queen (Alien Resurrection): The Alien xenomorphs generally take a rather forceful approach to pregnancy, literally shoving their embryos down a host’s throat. But Ripley’s clone is born pregnant, a circumstance that results in an Alien Queen with a healthy dose of DNA and a womb of its very own.
The Birth of Ian Troi (Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Child”): Deanna Troi’s uterus attracts the interest of an energy alien passing by the Enterprise. One night it enters her womb, triggering a speedy pregnancy. The pregnancy appears to be parthenogenic, since the resulting child is, like Troi, half human and half Betazoid, but it is inexplicably male.
Reproduction in Herland (Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman): The prototypical colony of self-replicating females, Herland is a man-free utopia. When a trio of men arrive in Herland, they manage to find wives who are interested in sexual reproduction. But there’s trouble when the women assert that sex between men and women is purely for procreative purposes.
Reproduction on GP (Ammonite by Nicola Griffith): A gender-specific virus attacks the planet GP, which both kills off the male population and gives the women the ability to reproduce. But triggering the reproductive process is less a physical act than a mental one.
The Birth of the Brood (The Brood): Nola Carveth sees a psychotherapist who has developed a bizarre, body-altering therapy called psychoplasmics. When her therapist encourages her to allow her negative emotions to take over, she gives birth to the Brood, deformed children who act out those emotions.
Vita-Lerp Induced Parthenogenesis (Sex and the High Command by John Boyd): A drug called Vita-Lerp not only allows parthenogenesis, but gives women an orgasm as well, causing some women to view men as obsolete. A battle of the sexes breaks out as a women’s crusade emerges to wipe out men and eliminate males from the future gene pool.
Birth of the Adipose (Doctor Who “Partners in Crime”): Adipose is a revolutionary diet pill that causes seemingly miraculous weight loss. That’s because the pill causes people to birth the alien Adipose, sentient fat blobs that pop off the body and literally walk away. But if the process goes too far, the dieters don’t merely gestate the Adipose; they are transformed into dozens of the infant creatures.
The Birth of Adria (Stargate SG-1): The Ori are a godlike race who command the worship of lesser beings. Looking to maintain a presence on the mortal plane, they do what godlike beings do: impregnate a mortal woman. Vala Mal Doran becomes mystically pregnant by the Ori and gives birth to Adria, who performs the will of the Ori.
The Birth of the Babylon Babies (Babylon AD): A geneticist engineered the fetal Aurora, programming her to give birth at a certain point in time without the contribution of male DNA. This gave the Noelite order a genuine virgin birth, which is necessary for their relgion.
The Whateley Twins (The Dunwich Horror by HP Lovecraft): It’s actually not clear how Lavinia Whateley became pregnant. But given that the father of her monstrous children is Yog-Sothoth, an Outer God locked out of our universe, it is safe to assume that mystical forces were at work.