“Greater than Gods,” C.L. Moore, 1939 – A man researching eugenics (Dr. Bill Cory) is trying to decide between two prospective wives. He’s visited by distant grand-children from alternate futures (one matriarchal and one fascist/patriarchal) who communicate with him through 3D photo cubes on his desk. One wife will make him happy; however, his happiness will dull his ambition, and he won’t complete his research, which would have counteracted a growing trend toward the incidence of female over male children. A peaceful, philosophical matriarchy will be established, but the world will lose the will to evolve. The other wife is not as good an emotional match, but she is ambitious, and she’ll drive him to develop a technique that will later be used to create a male dominated, totalitarian state. Unable to chose between the two futures, he leaves it to chance and impulsively proposes to his secretary.
Comments: Interesting for how Cory struggles with his emotions and his ideas of masculinity as he attempts to explore his love for both of his distant “children.” Also interesting for what Cory (an expert in eugenics) attempts to “read” from their bodies and the bodies of his prospective mates. Then, interesting for how Moore envisions the matriarchy and patriarchy, particularly for how they re-purposes space and their architectural preferences (i.e., no skyscrapers in the female-dominated world, only parks) and intellectual interests (e.g., women are drawn to philosophy, but not the sciences). Read in Great Science Fiction Stories of 1939. Also, for more on the concept of a “change-point” dependent on a choice between two options, see Jonbar hinge.
Author: Wikipedia: “Catherine Lucille Moore (January 24, 1911 – April 4, 1987) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, as C. L. Moore. She was one of the first women to write in the genre, and paved the way for many other female writers in speculative fiction.”