Nora’s Sunday Quickie: My Favorite Fantasy Mom…

…is actually from science fiction, but shhh, don’t tell anybody. Lilith, from Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis (also called “Lilith’s Brood”) series. In the first book of this series, Dawn, the Earth has been destroyed by human folly — a nuclear war. The survivors are rescued by an alien race called the Oankali, who want one thing in return: genetic trade. Specifically, they want to interbreed. Lilith Iyapo, among the first humans the Oankali attempt to bond with, doesn’t really have a lot of choice; she’s forced into it because her fellow humans unfortunately exhibit too much of humanity’s worst behavior, like paranoia, racism, sexism, and pointless violence. So she’s not exactly happy when her Oankali partner lets her know she’s pregnant with a child that isn’t exactly human.

However, over the course of the following two books, Lilith’s children form the seed of a new species, and she loves them despite their multiple limbs, deadly tentacles, and tendency to change sex from time to time. Indeed, her love helps them embrace their human identities, by showing them the best of humankind. When violent humans threaten her children, she has herself genetically modified to become stronger, and has no problem kicking ass for her kids’ sake. She is maligned among humankind for this, called a traitor and worse, but in reality all she’s done is dare to love her unconventional family, and protect it with all she’s got. In the end, it’s her motherhood which eventually provides some hope of a future for the human race.

Now that’s a mother.

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