January 11, 2015

Clive Owen
42 West
220 W. 42 Street
12th floor
New York, NY 10036-7200

Dear Mr. Owen:
It has been many years since I watched your impressive performance in “Children of Men,” depicting a world in which babies were no longer born.  Of course as a doctor I thought, “What could do this?”  The hints I picked up were: 1) There had been a massive population decline since the apparent remaining population seemed to be a fraction of what would be left even after two decades of zero fertility. 2) A couple of characters seemed to be brain damaged, which could be the consequence of an extremely high fever. 3) Of course fertility was down; heat is not good for sperm or testicles, which is why we keep them outside in the cool.  So the precipitating factor may have been an epidemic of a febrile illness, extreme and unresponsive to the usual measures. 

At least it’s close enough to plausibility for a drama. 

There is a nice plot irony in that it would be men who were vulnerable.  There wouldn’t be anything remarkable about the woman, nor her child if it proved to be a girl.  The person one would be frantic to find would be the father-to-be.  Either he or the child, were it a boy, would be able to make a fair bid to save humanity.  The fact that this crosses no-ones mind adds an undercurrent of tension, nay madness, which only makes the movie stronger. 

The other assumption that drives the plot is that in the absence of babies societies are going crazy.  That was an easy assumption to make for the sake of the drama.  And there is more evidence.  Someone who had reason to know remarked recently in my presence that the birth rate in Qatar was something like for or five per woman, a rate that promised exponential growth - as they say “teeming like rabbits.”  I asked google: 2.04 per woman (replacement is 2.1) three years ago and dropping like a stone.  So far as I can tell the whole Arab world and the whole developed world are in the same demographic gunny sack. 

Meanwhile the Arab Spring has gone on to the point where every country involved is a failed state except Libya and tiny Tunisia, and Libya is getting there.  So the prediction of “Children of Men” seems right on the nose.  Do you suppose it’s time for another movie?  If you want to see why this had to happen (the infertility, that is), here’s a link:


I’ve dashed off a couple of amateurish novels circling the subject, and I’d be more than happy for you to look at them, but I think for your purposes the story should be about trying to find that father.  What do you think?


M. Linton Herbert MD

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