It's award season again--hopefully it will go better than last time. The Nebulas look reasonably untainted, just as last year, so we are off to a good start. And for starters I read The New Mother by Eugene Fischer and can say so far so good.
The speculation here is a simple one, and not real new--parthenogenesis. An infectious disease renders women capable (automatically, unless they use birth control) of having children (all daughters) without men.
The story centers on a reporter, Intessar Mendoza, who is having a career moment--writing a hot story as a new writer for a major magazine. She herself is pregnant, and while she is pretty sure she is not infected herself, she isn't completely sure, and her identification with the issue plays into the story.
This is pretty good stuff. We get her personal dynamic with her spouse (a woman) and her mother juxtaposed with the social dynamics of women who can't help but reproduce. It does fully play into the Sad Puppy narrative--same sex couple, and the only men in the story are second-hand accounts from rabid conservative lawmakers (whose style is taken from current "mainstream media" headlines). So the male perspective of the story is a caricature rather than a characterization.
Still and all it is worthy, and more complex than a simple liberal expression. Hierarchies are being challenged, and the condition itself is certainly no bed of roses for poor women without access to birth control. I give it 3 stars for motivated, literate political commentary through the best lens there is--speculative fiction.
Had a bit of a technical fail on this one--my ancient Kindle cut off the first 20% of the story in Article Mode without my noticing. It did change the flavor of the piece to go back and read that later, but my opinion of it is intact. It's worth reading.