In one of those “life-is-stranger-than-fiction” moments, Last of Her Kind speaks to our current generation far more honestly than I had imagined possible in my lifetime. As longevity increases due to better health systems but fertility rates drop—for both men and women—around the globe, we look toward an imbalanced future where the elderly will be dependent on ever-shrinking generations. What kind of future is humanity facing?
As a prelude to the Newearth series, Last of Her Kind opens with a powerful premise: humans are becoming increasingly infertile, a trend that might spell extinction. Cerulean, an alien watcher from the planet Lux, is determined to save the human race, but with conflict deepening in his own world, what are the options for the guardian alien?
Putting the alien personalities aside, does futuristic science fiction have something to say to our current society? In Last of Her Kind, interests intertwine between personal desires right into national identities and flourish as cultural talking points. Anne wants a baby in a world where pregnancy has become a rare experience. Fewer babies mean fewer carpenters, doctors, teachers, technicians, businessmen, entertainers, truck drivers, and the list goes on. In a technological world, that would seem manageable, but in reality, the demise of a strong working force means that priorities have to be reconsidered in light of a diminishing future. Human beings need to do more than merely survive, we need hope, in order to thrive.
As rising technological solutions like birthing pods schemes attempt to address our actual dwindling fertility rates, the already strained-to-breaking-point bonds between parents and children could be severed entirely. What kind of children will inherit humanity’s mantle? Will they be humane? If the oneness of a baby growing inside her mother’s body is mercilessly torn asunder, will future generations pity the elderly who cut them off from their natural human origins?
In a larger universe, what would an alien race think of people who treated their own offspring as commodities to fill a personal desire rather than vulnerable beings in need of sacrificial love?
I wrote Last of Her Kind over twenty years ago while pregnant with my second child. I sent the manuscript to two people and received a formal response from only one, dismissing my work since a character had used the Lord’s name in vain. The character was actually praying in the only way she knew how, and if the reader had slugged on, she might have realized that. But no matter. I burned my last copy and went on to raise my growing family and walk with my husband through the valley of cancerous hell.
Shortly after his passing, I received a call from an old friend, the other person I had given my original manuscript. She called to console me on the loss of my husband, but then asked about my story: “What did you do with it?”
I could only remember the flames where I had left it to burn to ashes.
“That story has stayed with me all these years. You have to rewrite it.”
In a grace-filled act, her words sparked life in my weary soul. I did rewrite it, and as I was raising eight children alone as a widow, the story reflected a greater understanding of loss and suffering. It may never have had profitable answers, but it asked good questions.
What makes human life purposeful? Do we own our world or are we stewards? Is fertility a gift, one that we could lose? What do our priorities say about us as a race of beings? If we can’t get along here, will we “get along” anywhere?
Perhaps the space we should travel to first is the one between our minds and our hearts.
When I decided to add Last of Her Kind to my Audible portfolio, I looked for someone who could narrate Cerulean’s voice well. Though the story focuses on Anne, who bears the last child on OldEarth, it is really Cerulean’s story—the alien who cared enough to walk with humanity through our darkest hours. In a remarkable, wish-come-true sort of way, Brian Jeffords narrated Cerulean’s voice perfectly. Doing all the characters, men as well as women, was a lot to ask, but he accomplished the mission quite well.
So, now we have a story birthed twice. Last of Her Kind, available as an eBook, paperback, hardcover, and now on Audible, speaks to a world suffering our own birthing pains. What kind of world are we creating, and who will love it?