I’ve been asked a few times, in general or in reference to specific books: what do I think of the depiction of non-binary gender systems in aliens? Though I’ve mentioned it in passing at least once, I realised I’ve never given the question—and its answer—a post of its own.
Alien life—is it out there? what will it look like? what will meeting it be like?—lies at the heart of not only science fiction but the popular imagination, whether in farmer-abducting flying saucers or the real possibility of microbial life in our solar system. I find it fascinating. I edited Aliens: Recent Encounters out of that fascination. In fiction, alien life is a very revealing subject-matter: what is the author capable of imagining beyond the confines of human (and wider Earth) biology and cultures?