Octavia Butler’s, Bloodchild was the most disturbing short story we read this semester. Pregnancy is never a particularly fun thought for men in general, and male pregnancy is even more off-putting. Bloodchild takes this issue even farther – men impregnated by bugs, who give birth to flesh eating maggots that need to be removed via cesarean before they kill the carrier. Not a huge fan of pregnancy, flesh eating, or maggots myself, this story didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t the gore the bothered me so much as the situation the author put the characters in. In fact, I had the same problem with this story that I had with Aye and Gamorrah – after a certain point I no longer wanted to relate to or empathies with the main character and eventually found myself uninterested in the story.
I wasn’t a fan of the story’s ending either; at the end of the novel the main character gives in and is impregnated with maggots to save his sister from bearing the burden. I wasn’t really expecting a matrix-style human rebellion but I was hoping the main character would make some kind of stand against the situation itself.
I think my biggest issue with the story was that for all the unpleasantness it had I couldn’t seem to a message in it. The main character eventually sacrifices himself to protect his sister, but that wasn’t the focus of the story. The situation of bugs impregnating people was a prominent element of the story but the only message I could glean from that was “the horrors of pregnancy.”
I did like the way the bug creatures were described. Butler talks about them in detail but still manages to be nondescript enough to keep the reading guessing what they look like. Then during random parts of the story different parts of the insect creatures are casually referred to until it becomes clear that the creatures are actually fairly monstrous – looking.