This week we have a couple of novels that tackle big ideas about life and death through subtle manipulation of character and narrative.
First up is The Growing Season by Helen Sedgwick, a mildly dystopian story that is a follow-up to the English writer’s acclaimed debut, The Comet Seekers.
Sedgwick has a scientific background – she is a former research physicist – and big scientific ideas infuse both of her books.
In the case of The Growing Season the central premise is one that modern technology is fast approaching: What if humans could grow babies outside of the womb? In the novel this idea has become a reality, and a multinational company FullLife has developed the pouch, which enables foetuses to be grown to full term without any of the messy business of childbirth.
Sedgwick describes her off-kilter world brilliantly and considers the big ideas in her novel from all sides like a true scientist
And so, in this way, the burden or joy of pregnancy can be shared between couples of all types, and these pouches are available to all. Some see the pouches as salvation while others see them as a curse. Sedgwick runs her narrative through two central characters. Eva is a lifelong protestor against FullLife, while Piotr is a journalist who thinks he’s on to a story when bad things start happening to some babies produced via the pouches.
Sedgwick describes her off-kilter world brilliantly and she considers the big ideas in her novel from all sides like a true scientist, weighing up the pros and cons, showing the complex nature of all arguments. And with Piotr’s investigation she has her readers hooked into finding out what happens next.