“Contagion,” Katherine MacLean, 1950 – Colonists land on a planet only to discover that it has already been colonized by humans who arrived generations ago. The humans they encounter are strangely altered, having adapted to the local environment by altering their biology. They realize too late that the environment isn’t safe. A plague breaks out on the ship, necessitating a choice between isolation on the ship or the loss of their physical identity–i.e., they must all become copies of one man and one woman.
Comments: Perhaps notable for its portrayal of female sexuality and desire; the relationship between our identities and our bodies; and our ability to distinguish between the body of another and the person it contains. Read in Women of Wonder: The Classic Years.
Author: Wikipedia: “Katherine Anne MacLean (born January 22, 1925) is an American science fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s which examined the impact of technological advances on individuals and society.” MacLean recieved a B.A. in economics from Barnard College, studied psychology at the post-graduate level, and taught literature at the University of Maine and creative writing at the Free University of Portland. “It was while she worked as a laboratory technician in 1947 that she began writing science fiction. Strongly influenced by Ludwig von Bertalanffy‘s General Systems Theory, her fiction has often demonstrated a remarkable foresight in scientific advancements.”