by Elizabeth Barrette

  • Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball. Harper Prism, 1997. (Science fantasy.) Orphaned as an infant, Acorna is found by three human men who raise her together. She looks mostly human, except for her magical horn and hooves instead of feet. Maturing at rapid speed, she soon reaches adulthood, and champions some human children who are serving as forced labor on the planet Kezdet.
  • Alien Influences by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Bantam Spectra, 1994, 1997. (Science fiction.) Six human children grow up on an alien world, raised in their human families but with enough exposure to aliens that they pick up some profoundly disturbing alien tendencies – like the puberty rites which turn fatal.
  • Alien Taste by Wen Spencer. Roc, 2001. (Science fiction.) Ukiah Oregon was a “wild child,” discovered living with a pack of wolves, and raised by his adoptive human mothers. But it turns out that Ukiah’s story of being a changeling and lost boy is even more complicated than that!
  • The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn. Ace Books, 1998. (Science fantasy.) In a world populated by humans alongside “angels” created from humans long ago, a woman gives birth to twin girls – one mortal, one angelic. The angel daughter is taken away from her; the mother escapes with her mortal daughter, and dies in the attempt, but her daughter – unknown to the angel horde – survives.
  • The Borribles by Michael de Larrabeth. Ace Books, 1976. (Fantasy.) The story features human children who have run away from home and mysteriously transformed into Borribles, who never grow old and die, and who live on the streets by their wits.
  • The Bridge by Janine Ellen Young. Warner Aspect, 2000. (Science fiction.) A mysterious plague breaks out on Earth, the result of an alien message gone tragically awry. The only two human infants to survive the plague – Piper and Scotty – are altered by the viral coding and sometime viewed with apprehension by the adult survivors.
  • Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold. Baen Books, 1989. (Science fiction.) Miles Vorkosigan, undercover as Admiral Naismith, discovers that he has a brother. Cloned by enemies of Miles’ parents, Mark has been raised to assassinate Miles and take his place. That doesn’t stop Miles from taking Mark for family, based on his understanding that their mother will be outraged by the theft of her son.
  • The Color of Distance by Amy Thomson. Ace Books, 1995. (Science fiction.) Lost on an alien planet, explorer Juna Saari joins a village of Tendu. These froglike aliens allow their young to grow wild, only choosing a few to become adults. Juna winds up adopting a young Tendu, Moki, who becomes so attached to her that he refuses to be left behind when a ship returns for her.
  • Commencement by Roby James. Del Rey, 1996. (Science fiction.) Ronica McBride always thought her psychic abilities made her special, and that she came from the planet Steressor. Then she finds out that there are others like herself, not just the two lesser talents she grew up with, and they all came from Caryldon – a world where most people have minor or major psychic abilities – commandeered by an empire hungry for their special gifts.
  • The Companions by Sheri S. Tepper. Avon Eos, 2003. (Science fiction.) Desperately overcrowded, humanity is in trouble. Then the “concs” (short for “concubines”) show up: pastel, charming, tiny, childlike. And soon people don’t feel so much like going to the trouble of begetting actual offspring anymore.
  • Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear. Del Rey, 1999. (Science fiction.) Evolution takes the next leap, and humanity finds itself facing a new species born from within the old – and reacts with savage rejection, except for a few parents determined to keep their strange children.
  • Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop. Roc, 1998. (Fantasy.) Jaenelle is “dreams made flesh,” born to a set of unappreciative parents but created from the urgent hopes of many races. In time she will become her world’s greatest magical power. Two of her dearest friends are the half-brothers Daemon Sadi and Lucivar Yaslana, both raised as bastards due to some vicious politicking, stolen from the father who yearns to claim both – and who winds up standing as father figure to Jaenelle as well.
  • Delan the Mislaid by Laurie J. Marks. DAW, 1989. (Fantasy.) A gripping rendition of both the “stolen child” and “changeling” motifs: Delan was abducted from the nest of ids Aeyrie parents and placed among Walkers, a totally different race. The divergence leaves Delan feeling hopelessly out of place.
  • Elvendude by Mark Shepherd. Baen Books, 1994. (Fantasy.) Born a prince of Faerie, Adam was sent to the human world – and given human seeming and human memories, his own heritage lost to him. Now his Unseleighe enemies are after him, and without his magic, he’s defenseless. Well, almost.
  • Exile’s Honor by Mercedes Lackey. DAW Books, 2002. (Fantasy.) The Tedrel mercenaries have an obnoxious habit of kidnapping children to absorb into their throng. One hero, Herald Alberich of Valdemar – formerly of Karse – is urgently concerned with protecting the children of both lands.
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. Tor Books, 1992. (Science fiction.) One thread in this complex novel concerns two human children orphaned on an alien world, cared for by the natives. The Tines themselves are doglike, a group mind created by multiple bodies – and a leader among them has taken puppies to form a whole person, when normally a person consists of bodies differing in age, so this is yet another “stolen child” variation.
  • For Love of Mother-Not by Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey, 1983. (Science fiction.) Meet Flinx, a genetically-engineered orphan. Lost by his creators when their illicit research was discovered and broken up, he gets adopted by a quirky but loving old woman called Mother Mastiff. But then his creators track him down, and they want him back…
  • Minerva Wakes by Holly Lisle. Baen Books, 1994. (Fantasy.) Minvera and her husband mistakenly received two rings of power, but they haven’t lived up to the potential. So both factions in a war want them dead … and one mistakes the mistake of kidnapping their three children, who are more than they seem. Never mess with the mommy!
  • Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin. DAW, 1984. (Science fiction.) Humans are attempting to learn alien languages by exposing human infants to aliens speaking their native tongue – which would be a great idea, except it proves fatal to the infants. In essence, they’re trying to create changelings to bridge the species gap. An early scene in the novel has a father taking his baby to serve this purpose, because he wants to get rid of it, much against the mother’s wishes.
  • Local Custom in Pilots Choice omnibus by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Meisha Merlin, 2000. (Science fiction.) Unbeknownst to Er Thom yos’Galan, his previous romance with Anne Davis resulted in a child. When Er Thom discovers this he tries, with all good intention, to bring their son into his clan, much upsetting the mother in the process.
  • Split Heirs by Lawrence Watt Evans. Tor Books, 1993. (Fantasy.) When Queen Artemisia gives birth to triplets, in a country that considers multiple births to require multiple fathers, she smuggles away two of the infants. The resulting political tangle takes years to straighten out: a rare humorous treatment of a usually dramatic or tragic motif.
  • Stronghold Rising by Lisanne Norman. DAW Books, 2000. (Science fiction.) A group of human and Sholan friends discover that they have, unknowingly, been bred by their Valtegan captors – and they are prepared to move heaven and earth to rescue their children, sight unseen.
  • Worldwar #3: Upsetting the Balance by Harry Turtledove. The alien Lizards have interrupted World War II. Since their method of reproduction is different from that of humans, one of their scientists decides to study the human process by forcing people to mate. When the woman Liu Han gives birth, they take away her daughter. Liu Han promptly joins the resistance and causes them extensive grief.