With sperm donation and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) growing with leaps and bounds, it’s no wonder story lines involving sperm donors and surrogacy have made it into television shows, movies, and even novels.
The latest is a novel by Richard Hamersma, a practicing psychologist and former professor from Oak Park, Illinois. He began his dystopian novel almost four decades ago while he was assistant professor of psychology at DePaul University.
“I was teaching a course at DePaul on personal issues in psychology, all kinds of issues. One of them was population growth and the food shortages at the time, and issues of the family,” he said.
Hamersma’s mind began to wander and imagine a different world involving these issues.
“I started thinking about overpopulation, poverty and economic issues, and also about kids who weren’t wanted and didn’t have families,” Hamersma recalled. “I started thinking about sci-fi scenarios.
This idea popped into my mind about the government supporting a draconian law but supposedly with a humanistic perspective. The law was that all men had to have a vasectomy immediately, and all young men in their teens were required to have one but they were forced to deposit sperm first,” he explained.
Hamersma began his novel, ‘Sperm Germ,’ in 1976 and finished it two years later. There was positive reception and initial interest from the Scott Meredith Literacy Agency, but they requested a revision. His life was busy with his career and raising his family so the book collected dust for decades. “Sperm Germ’ was finally published last year by Daydream Alchemy and is still relevant today, maybe even more so.
In the novel, Joseph and Mary Lou are one of the first couples seeking parenthood after the “U.S. Child Safe Law” is passed. The government passes the law due to increasing population growth, significant economic problems, high unemployment, and problems with adequate food distribution since many people are unable to provide for their families. The only way for this young couple to conceive is to go through the new and tightly controlled universal sperm bank. The only problem is, the sperm is unlabeled which means they could conceive a baby from any ethnic group, with any disease, genetic defect, or other abnormality.
Joseph and Mary Lou must face many questions and decisions head on. This child, if conceived, would only be half theirs genetically and could have any type of disease or abnormality. They must grapple with their own convictions, worth, and the worth of others.
“What I hope readers will take away is how we look and treat people: different ethnic groups, different religious groups, different skin colors. I hope it causes people to reassess their instant impressions based on difference,” Hamersma said.
“I think the human brain perceives differences and then an old part of the brain — the ‘fight or flight’ part — gives them pause,” he continued. “If you have a child, though, that you’re bringing into the world, you’re going to love that child, and man, that feeling is going to change.”
‘Sperm Germ’ eBook can be purchased at online retailers or in Oak Park at The Book Table, 1045 Lake St., or online at DaydreamAlchemyShop.com/collections/books.
Leave a Reply