"I went back to science fiction to try a few experiments …and my first experiment was a disaster…"
Another unique and interesting concept from this story. At present (2003), it is not possible to go from ovum and sperm through fetus to child in an artificial environment. IVF can result in a fertilized egg, but that egg must then be implanted in a woman's womb. In this story, ovum and sperm are not even necessary; the necessary DNA is supplied by the partners in the form of blood, sputum or other samples.
In the novel, the use of the birthing egg is an interesting way to add to the sense of psychological distance between the characters in this near future Earth. In this highly technological society, you get the impression that (for the protagonist of the novel) it is difficult to get close to other people. The very notion of "person" is challenged by the chiphead technology in use.
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