Pursuit of Excellence

Yount, Rena

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Jan-28-1997


It is sometime in the future of genetic engineering, at the point at which, for a high enough price, one can buy physical and intellectual characteristics for one's fetus. This is the story of a young American couple of average means who have one "normal" son and are negotiating a supernorm status for their female fetus. The action centers around the stresses placed on the young family by the financial sacrifices required to engineer a daughter who would be able to compete in the growing population of engineered people. Husband and wife disagree increasingly, and ultimately the family breaks up over the wife's obsession with having a perfectly engineered child.


This hypothetical situation has been very useful in raising for discussion questions about the ethics of genetic manipulation; it is especially well suited to today's cost containment and rationing concerns. The story won Third Prize in the 1984 Clarion Awards for Science Fiction.

Primary Source

The Clarion Awards, 1984



Place Published

New York