On 7 September 2014 17:11, Leonardo Castro <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I had misread it as "fewer than one parent" and was trying to figure out
> how would it be. Maybe some alien's parent divides himself into two
> individuals before reproducing. :-)
Greg Egan's _Orthogonal_ trilogy has a variation on that theme. In that
series, the aliens (which are the main characters. They actually live in a
different universe with completely different laws of physics) have two
sexes, but reproduction is done exclusively via the female, who actually
dies and divides itself in four (two male-female pairs) when reproducing.
Males are there purely to care for the progeny (they can help trigger the
births, in which case they immediately grow some kind of caring instinct
for the children, but births can also happen spontaneously as females age).
Normally, the male that will accompany a female, trigger the births and
take care of the children is the one of the female-male pair they were born
with, although naturally accidents and life in general can change that.
Also, sometimes during a birth one of the male-female pair doesn't actually
separate, resulting in a single individual (always a female). And in cases
of famine, females will usually divide in two individuals only, in which
case one will be male and the other female. The dynamics of this type of
reproduction in terms of growth of population and environmental pressure
are actually addressed in the series.

This extremely asymmetric form of sexuality is the basis for many conflicts
in the series, with many females fighting against the conservative stance
that basically acknowledges females' existence only as a vessel for future
births, while females themselves want to be seen as full, equal members of
society. The existence of a drug that allows females to live longer while
lowering the risk for spontaneous births provides a metaphor for the fight
for contraception *here*.

If you're interested in reading Egan's work though, I need to warn you that
it's about as hard sci-fi as it gets. It basically reads like a physics
manual interspersed with some story (the aliens' learning to understand the
way their universe works is actually vital to the main plot).
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
President of the Language Creation Society (

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