In much contemporary speculative fiction by women, the cyborgization of the body is metaphoric rather than physical, suggesting ambivalence toward artificial enhancements and reproduction. Drawing on the recent material turn in feminism, this essay analyzes representations of the agency of matter and the interdependencies of nature and culture that shape women’s experiences and thus help envision alternative futures. Rather than replicate patriarchal and rationalist representational patterns, the figure of the childbearing woman in novels from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God thematizes both the inescapability of corporeality and the subtle forms of exploitation, whose persistence is inscribed on the pregnant female, racialized, or even cyborgized body. Its foregrounding, I argue, is a form of ethical activism.

This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/pages/standard-publication-reuse-rights)