Mon
Sep 21 2009 10:36am

SpecFicSex

When most people hear the word fantasy, they don’t automatically think of world-building and quests. Chances are, they think of sexytimes. Examining where these definitions overlap—sex and speculative fiction—is the purpose of this post. So, in the immortal words of Salt-N-Pepa, let’s talk about sex, bay-bee. 

Sex, like hard science, violence, humor or magic, can enrich and energize a story. Or, when done badly or excessively, it can desensitize the reader. Like anything else in a story, it should be a means for understanding the character and bringing about change. If the sex scene doesn’t matter, it drains the reader of the desire to engage in the narrative. When that happens, a book that you hoped would sustain you through the night no longer looks so appealing. You put the book down, move away from it and say, “Gosh, I wish I could stay and read you some more, but I have this thing I have to do in the morning. Maybe I’ll call you sometime for another chapter.” But you never do. You’ve moved on to better lit.

Some fantasy and science fiction stories are intensely sexual. Others are subdued and chaste in presentation and still others are not sexual at all. Whether or not sexual situations are appropriate in a story depends entirely on what sort of story it is. Catherynne M. Valente’s Palimpsest, if the sexual themes were taken out, would be about four pages long and read like a travelogue with occasional asides on supernatural dermatology. The story necessitates the erotic content (and boy howdy does she do a good job of providing it). On the other hand, inserting a sex scene in The Lord of the Rings would have felt disastrously out of place. No one needs to know that ancient forests echoed with the clack of trunk-knocking when, at long last, the Ents and Entwives reunited. And I’m guessing you didn’t need me to mention it either.

Before I go further (without the Ents; I’ll leave the poor fellas alone for now on) I think it necessary to say I am talking about books and short stories here, not film or visual arts or other media. And since I’m defining my terms, I should also distinguish between two kinds of sexual writing: romantic and erotic. Romantic writing, I would say, focuses on the emotional aspect of relationships and erotic writing attunes the reader to the sensory aspects. They do overlap, of course. The emotional gives personal depth to the sensory and the sensory gives added expression to the emotional. A severing of emotion and sensation leads to a frustrating or ultimately unrewarding experience. (Except for this one time in Vienna. But forget I said that.)

Clive Barker’s work is often erotic and seldom romantic, unless your idea of Valentine’s Day involves a lot of hooks. Robert Jordan wrote a great many romantic scenes but I can’t really think of any erotic content, as he chose not to consider that breasts can do more than frame folded arms and not every time hair is pulled is it necessarily done out of frustration. That may be the first, and is probably the last, Clive Barker and Robert Jordan comparison.

In investigating sex in science fiction and fantasy I noticed a disquieting trend: almost all of the really good sex scenes I’ve read were written by women. If anyone cares to vindicate male authors here, please jump in, because I really don’t want to think guys are almost unilaterally terrible at writing sex scenes in speculative fiction. 

Bad sex in writing usually fits one or more of these unpleasant categories:

1. Confused and mechanical. Imagine following anatomical IKEA instructions on prom night. One wonders if the author is just guessing.
2. The Unbearable Penis of Lightning. Brutal, unnecessary, misogynistic beast-bumping with no more erotic sensibility than jamming an electric pencil sharpener. For some reason, these scenes often involve spit and thumbs. Don’t ask me why.
3. Purple treacle gingerbread smothered in creamed velvet. Completely missing the primal element, these scenes drown any joy or sense of abandon in favor of thesaurus abuse.
4. Nothing when there should be something. I’m talking about leading up to a perfectly appropriate moment for sex, and then? Bupkiss. This isn’t the same as sexual subtlety, or avoiding unnecessary scenes. This is when the author sticks his fingers in his ears—all the penetration you’re gonna get—and goes “Lalalala, sex? What means this hu-mon word, sex? That comes between five and seven in German, right?”

Some of the female authors I’ve read can weave amazing tapestries of sensation and anticipation, poetic choreography of interaction, and bold, searing prose. I’m not saying every female author writes great sex scenes by default or that all male authors fail; that would be an absurd claim. But in what I’ve read, women do a far better job overall. Why the disparity? In her essay collection, In Favor of the Sensitive Man, Anaïs Nin writes, “I would say that woman has not made the separation between love and sensuality which man has made.” Could this separation be the cause? I don’t know. It would account for male authors who think that an erotic scene will make them look like big sissy-boys. But I hardly think the majority of male speculative fiction writers can be considered so macho or divorced from romance. In general, writers are a pretty sensitive and gentle bunch, regardless of gender, non?

Is it an editorial choice? Do publishers feel the stories are less appealing to a male audience if erotic scenes appear in work written by men? That doesn’t sound right to me either. Perhaps the editors who read this can clue me in.

Another possibility is that I’m simply not as widely read as I’d like to believe. I'm sure you’ll let me know if that is the case. Or, I’m biased, predisposed to prefer the female view of sex because I am heterosexual and just think women are sexier than men. But I don’t buy that either, since  when the masculine perspective of sexuality is conveyed properly in art—as with Pablo Neruda or Marvin Gaye, for example—it’s a serious thrill, every bit powerful to me as a woman’s approach. But…where is the Neruda of science fiction?

Leaving the gender issue, what authors do you find excel at sexual storytelling? What books and short stories do you think not only convey sensuality, intimacy and pleasure, but also use it well to propel character development and plot?

Like Water for Chocolate, by magic realist author Laura Esquivel, certainly qualifies for me. I especially love the scene when Gertrudis, bathing in an outdoor wooden shower, becomes literally enflamed with passion. (Her water is boiling. Bring on the chocolate!) The water from the shower turns to steam as it hits her skin. The wild need increases until the shower bursts into flames and she runs off naked into the countryside and goes for some country lovin’ with a revolutionary. This scene makes perfect use of sex and magic, indistinguishable from each other in this case, to bring the reader into the no-longer-containable passion Gertrudis feels.

Martha Soukup also writes (wrote?) some great sexual fantasy, as does Amy Bender (though I think her endings tend to fizzle). Much as it pains me to admit it, given the utter hack Anne Rice is in almost every other book, Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat turned me on mightily.

My good friend Maria Alexander told me that writing about speculative fiction and sex without mentioning Cecilia Tan would be a huge mistake. I admit I’m not very familiar with her work, but I understand that Tan has, for some time now, been one of the leading voices in writing and publishing erotic science fiction and fantasy. I conclude with a great quote from one of her essays. “But any story reveals the subconscious. Sometimes like a hypnotic confession, sometimes like a cryptic Tarot reading. Ultimately, that is what some of the best sex does, too, allowing us to lose our self-consciousness and reveal another plane of emotion, understanding, or self. So once again, sex is like writing, writing is like sex. Writing is sex. Writing is identity and loss of identity at the same time, just as good sex reaffirms who we are, even as we lose ourselves in each other.”


When Jason Henninger isn’t reading, writing, juggling, cooking or raising evil genii, he works for Living Buddhism magazine in Santa Monica, CA. He now has sex on the brain, which is OK as that is what he most often has sex on.

45 comments
Bill Siegel
1. ubxs113
I always thought the scenes in Richard K Morgan's books were pretty good, although somewhat gratuitous.
Karen L
2. changisme
What do you think of the Sharing Knife series?
Leigh Butler
3. leighdb
I'm not familiar with Cecilia Tan's work (I shall have to check her out), but any discussion of good sex in fantasy would be remiss if it did not mention Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart series, in which the sexual element is essential (indeed, central) to the plot - not surprising, considering the protagonist of the first three novels is a courtesan.

As for male sf authors who write good sex/sensuality... um. I have to say none spring to mind. In fact, the first author I thought of was Stephen Donaldson, but only because of how sex in his novels is the complete opposite of "good" sex. It's mostly just horrific.
George Baker
4. wraeththu
Sam Delany's work often includes sexual content that is both integral to the characters/situations he is writing about and interesting as composition. Some readers will find it (or parts of it) hot; others will find it pornographic or tasteless. Like other aspects of his writing, Delany's attempts to stretch the boundaries of what is permissible in SF/fiction make for heady reading.
nolan
5. topknot
Leigh@3 Fancy meeting you here, I was shocked to see your comment about Donaldson, mainly because he was the first one I thought about, and for the same reason. Ah well you know what they say about great minds, something about how they think alike.;P
Jason Henninger
6. jasonhenninger
@1
I've never read him. I will look into it. Thanks!

@2
It's on my ever-growing list of well recommended work, but I haven't read it yet. I've only heard very good things about it though.

@3
I certainly agree about Carey. Wouldn't work without the erotic aspect. As for Donaldson...his approach to sex is the reason I couldn't even finish the first half of Lord Foul's Bane.
Rebecca Stevenson
7. Rebecca Stevenson
Emma Bull writes beautiful sex scenes (IMO). And I'm sure I'll think of a good example of a male writer who does as soon as I click the button, but for right now, I'm nowhere my books and I can't think of any. Although Walter Jon Williams' _Metropolitan_ has at least one good scene.
Theresa DeLucci
8. theresa_delucci
@wraeththu
Your username was the first title that came to mind. I've always found Storm Constantine's work to be very erotic, especially the Wraeththu trilogy. Fans of Jacqueline Carey will probably enjoy her, too. I love Francesca Lia Block's erotica collection, Nymph. It incorporates a lot of mythology into modern relationships and the result is something simple and beautiful.

Circlet Press does put out a lot of cool genre anthologies, I can definitely recommend them.

I don't know why it is, but I think horror authors write about sex better than many sf/f authors. Maybe because so much of horror is "of the body" already, if it makes sense? Books of Blood remains one of my favorites. I also love the erotic work of M. Christian. If you can find it, check out Eros Ex Machina about sex and machines (go figure.) Some great, dark stuff in there. Early Poppy Z. Brite and Kathe Koja spring to mind, too.

But I agree with you. Spit and thumbs. Gross. I can't think of many male genre writers who've gotten it right. I haven't read enough Delany or Morgan to know, but now I want to investigate.
Foz Meadows
9. Foz_Meadows
There are some good romantic/emotional sex scenes in Goerge R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books - they aren't erotic, but all are representative of the characters and fit perfectly into the surrounding narrative. Trying to think of other male writers with good sex scenes...hmm. Will have to go away and contemplate.
Tim Nolan
10. Dr_Fidelius
It's not something I've come across very often (ahem...sorry). My introduction to sex in speculative fiction was through Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and Mouser stories - hopefully that hasn't marked me for life. I don't have an 'invisible flesh' fetish at any rate.

Probably my favourite love scene is the psychedelic vegetable sex in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. It was a tricky thing to pull off (*cough*) but Moore and Totleben did one hell of a job.

A few months ago I found an anthology called The Shape of Sex to Come (including a story by, who else, Michael Moorcock) but it's not an attempt at erotica so much as casual speculation. Not one I'd make an effort to hunt down, but give it a look if you see it.
Jason Henninger
11. jasonhenninger
@8

I debated with myself over how many specific authors to mention in the post, but Storm Constantine was one I could have gone into a lot of detail about. She writes some amazing scenes, great for erotic content, plot and character and as a display of her imagination. I've always wondered why the Wraeththu books aren't better known.

@9
Good point about Martin. The sex, while not compelling in an erotic or particularly romantic way (not for me anyhow) works for plot and character.

@10
Fafhrd and Grey Mouser? I read them 6 million years ago, and I don't even remember sex in the stories. Maybe I'll re-read. I remember enjoying them.
René Walling
12. cybernetic_nomad
"Maybe because so much of horror is "of the body" already, if it makes sense?"


Makes sense to me, of course, it also explains why SF that focuses on the body doesn't have sex in it: when you turn the body into a machine, you can't do it anymore (see The Ship Who Sang for example...)
Rikka Cordin
13. Rikka
*saves all aforementioned books to her to-read list*

I'm glad someone jumped on the Jacqueline Carey boat. Kushiel's Legacy is some fine sexy writing.
Leigh Butler
14. leighdb
Wait, I thought of one! Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana, and Song of Arbonne. Whew.
Dominic Wellington
15. riotnrrd
Charles Stross makes a decent fist (oo er!) of the various sex scenes in _Saturn's children_, IMHO.

He also gets very creative with who can be a sex partner for what, and when. The erotic potential of non-anthropomorphic beings is an under-utilized aspect of SF, at least in my reading experience. No doubt there is an SF equivalent of tentacle pr0n somewhere out there, but it's not in mainstream SF.

I also wonder how much of the lack of sex scenes in traditional SF is due to the outlets and market in which the genre grew up. Anything which would get the magazines placed on the upper shelves was out, and as that was the entry point for many authors, SF was an almost sexless genre, at least in the mainstream, for quite some time.
p l
16. p-l
Whenever I read M. John Harrison's work, I always think he could do a great sex scene - he certainly has the chops for it, and he can write very sensually - but his characters, especially the women, are always too sick and weary to enjoy anything.
Tom Knapik
17. tknapik
I don't remember if they were actually good sex scenes, but the first books that popped in my head are by Robert A Heinlein. Specifically, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and I Will Fear No Evil.
Marcus W
18. toryx
@6:

As for Donaldson...his approach to sex is the reason I couldn't even finish the first half of Lord Foul's Bane.

Same here. I lost all interest in the main character after that first sex scene. Ugh.

I think George R.R. Martin is a male writer who, while not writing sex scenes I'm all that interested in, does pull it off well. As Leigh says, Guy Gavriel Kay in Tigana and Song of Arbonne is another.

I've been meaning to read Carey for years and when I finally got around to checking out the first book in the Kushiel series from the library, it was missing. Curses!

A number of people I've known have really enjoyed the sex in Heinlein's work. Except for that brief period when I was a hormonal teenager, I couldn't really agree.
Elio García
19. Egarcia
ubxs113 @1,

Morgan and sex ... maybe? I was thinking Jason might categorize most of his sex scenes as type 2, actually. That said, his homoerotic sex scene in his fantasy novel, The Steel Remains, was pretty well done (even if it was, I suppose, the epitome of animalistic, feral sex.) And I say that as a heterosexual man.

leighdb @14,

I was going to post the same name, and saw you beat me to it. GGK has written some quite beautiful and erotic sex scenes in his time.

He's the only male author my partner and I can think of at the moment... Oh, no, she suggests Richard Adams, Maia as a possibility for another male author who manages erotic scenes.
Rebecca Stevenson
20. Superquail
I have often struggled as to what category to place Gregory Maguire's work, but I think he's safe in Speculative Fiction. So, I recommend his work if you are looking for some interesting and compelling sex scenes written by a man.
Rebecca Stevenson
21. TokyoRose4
Since we are discussing Martin and his approach to sexuality, I have to say something that has bothered me about him ever since I picked up the first SOIAF book. While Martin is an incredible writer, particularly when it comes to character development, I honestly hate reading his books because of his seeming obsession with rape. Although it is, in some cases, pertinent to the characters, when A Feast For Crows came out I couldn't even finish it, I was so disturbed by the endless references to rape and particularly anal rape. It just made me terribly uncomfortable.
I do agree with Superquail that Gregory Maguire seems to have a knack for romantic and well done sexuality, if not eroticism. However, like many of you, I have a hard time coming up with other male writers who can do the same.
I also praise Jacqueline Carey for taking a type of sexuality that could be been over exploited and making it both romantic and readable.
Rebecca Stevenson
22. skinnyiain
Is there a sex scene in Lord Foul's Bane? I remember a rape scene, but that so not the same thing...
Jason Henninger
23. jasonhenninger
@20
I tried to read him once but I think I was in the wrong frame of mind at the time. Maybe I'll try again.

@22
Well said. You're quite right.
Christopher Key
25. Artanian
The Wraeththu books are actually kind of interesting here. I picked them up as a trade paperback with the trilogy in them knowing nothing about the author, but needing something to kill some time on a trip. After finishing them I'm still not sure whether or not I liked them. If I'd known ahead of time that what I was getting was the King Arthur myth, as portrayed by post-modern hermaphroditic vampires, set in a dystopia, I probably would not have picked them up. But they were definitely well-written.
Elio García
26. Egarcia
TokyoRose @21,

I think "obsession" with rape is implying things that I don't think you mean to imply.

Are threats of rape prevalent in AFfC? Mostly in the case of Brienne, a single woman traveling in an area where law and order has been severely disrupted, who does indeed get warned a fair bit that a woman travelling alone in times like these is risking rape or worse.

(As to anal rape, I can only recall one clear threat of it, from the mad outlaw Shagwell the Fool aimed at, yes, Brienne when he and his companions had her cornered.)
Rebecca Stevenson
27. BritMandelo
I'm going to throw out there:

Elizabeth Bear and/or Sarah Monette.

Because not all sex scenes are between a man and a woman, and when it comes to gender-queer or just plain queer sex, they do a beautiful job. Also, they avoid the "slash fangirl" approach to sex between men. In "A Companion to Wolves" there is a great deal of graphic and often not exactly romantic male-male sex, but it is understood that the main character is predominantly interested in females, and the scenes with his "woman" are also well rounded. The "Doctrine of Labyrinths" series by Monette deals with two half brothers, one of whom is straight and the other gay. The tensions between the characters, their sexual partners and their romantic interests are fascinatingly well-rendered.

(As for males who do a good job, Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin win my vote. And I don't feel that Martin in any way legitimizes rape the way so many male fantasy authors seem to; it is a genuine concern in his time period and one that the woman in question tend to successfully protect themselves from. I for one would not want to be on the wrong end of Arya's sword.)
Rebecca Stevenson
28. Livia Llewellyn
Caitlín R. Kiernan writes highly charged (and highly unusual) erotic dark fiction - you could call it horror, but you could also place it firmly in the dark fantasy camp as well. Many of these stories have appeared in the monthly Sirenia Digest, and Subterranean Press has published two collections (Frog Toes and Tentacles, Tales from the Woeful Platypus). I recommend her work to anyone who's interested in reading strange, complex and lush erotica.
John Rodenbiker
29. jrodenbiker
"When most people hear the word fantasy, they don’t automatically think of world-building and quests. Chances are, they think of sexytimes."

W.T.F.

Seriously? Can I question your fundamental premise here? If you were just looking for an excuse to talk about explicit descriptions of sex within the confines of your favorite genre, OK.

But when you say most people think of "sexytimes" when they hear the word fantasy, especially on this website, I think you're nuts.

I guess this may be why the advertising in the few remaining genre rags is increasingly embarrassing. But as a guy who has no problem with porn I don't like these "sexytimes".


P.S. To respond to a couple other comments:

* If you can't remember the sex in the Lankhmar stories you need to read them again (Dark Horse just republished them all last year).

* The sex in the three SOIAF books I read struck me as very greek. As in mythological. If you have a problem with rape, stay away from Jove and Apollo!
Rebecca Stevenson
30. jere7my
I'm glad people mentioned Kay and Delany, 'cos I was gonna. Iain Banks can also write a potent sex scene, though he confines them chiefly to his non-M mainstream books. (The Steep Approach to Garbadale is a powerful nostalgia trigger for me.)

Now I have haul out an old hobby-horse and quibble with Jason's comment about Donaldson. Covenant's rape of Lena doesn't show Donaldson's "approach to sex" — it shows his approach to rape. The rape, and the fact that it is the most vile act Covenant could have committed at that point, is fundamental to the story. Covenant spends the next five and a half books atoning for that crime — a crime he was convinced he was committing in a dream, as the crudest way he could think of to lash out against a dream he thought was trying to kill him — and the fallout from it is brutal on both a personal and an epic scale.

Don't get me wrong — I can understand people finding the Covenant books unpalatable (not to mention turgid). I don't begrudge anyone their personal responses to a very difficult subject, or to antiheroes in general. But it does Donaldson a disservice to say that we can learn anything from that scene about his attitudes toward sex. The Mordant's Need books show both consensual sex and coercion (though not actual rape, IIRC), and I think they demonstrate that Donaldson is rather deftly aware of the distinction. (Come to think of it, Covenant's own eventual relationship with Linden Avery draws a stark contrast with his violation of Lena.)

I agree with skinnyiain — the rape scene in Covenant is as jarring to bring up in a discussion of sex scenes in SF as the scenes in Light between Seria Mau Genlicher and the ill-fated passengers cavorting in the White Cat's hold.
Rebecca Stevenson
31. jere7my
jrodenbiker, I reckon the "most people" was a reference to people out in the (mostly mainstream) world, not people who read tor.com. That jibes with my experience: "fantasy" for many non-fen suggests sexual fantasies, not dragons and elves.

Or football. Sometimes it suggests football.
Rebecca Stevenson
32. R. Garrett Wilson
I am a male SciFi writer aspiring to be a published author. I am currently working on a novel that has a few 'near' sex scenes and potentially a 'real' sex scene. I was leaning in the direction of including the scene but have to rethink it now. I was hoping that I was paranoid about people tearing it apart and analyzing it.
Jason Henninger
33. jasonhenninger
@29

As jere7my said, by "most people" I meant people in general, not "most tor.com readers." If you still want to think I'm nuts, I'm fine with that; there's plenty of evidence that I am.

@30
As mentioned earlier, quite correctly, a distinction must be made between a sex scene and a rape scene. I totally agree. And by extension, it was incorrect for me to have conflated Donaldson's writing a rape scene with his views of writing sex scenes. (As for repenting it in the later books, I didn't know because I stopped reading there.)

@32
Ah, don't let that stop you, dude. What in scifi and fantasy doesn't risk being torn apart and analyzed?
zaphod beetlebrox
34. platypus rising
I understand sexuality is integral to Delany's concerns, but it's difficult for me to find his extended sex scenes erotic.

Manna Francis has written an "original slash" (her own definition) series set in a near-future dystopia. It can be read online here: http://www.mannazone.org/zone/admin/index.html.
The setting is very well done, and she's the only author who has succeeded in making me enjoy BDSM scenes.

I've recently snatched an used copy of a novel by Geoff Ryman, Lust, about a gay man who discovers he can summons copies of anyone he fancies and have sex with them. I'll see how he handles it.
Liza .
35. aedifica
17, 18: There's sex in Heinlein? I haven't found any. (Sure, many of his characters are getting it left and right, but it all happens offstage as far as I remember. The few times characters are in bed together, we only hear what they say to each other, we don't really know what they're doing.)

On Delany: I do think his sex scenes are done well. That doesn't mean they turn me on most of the time, but he doesn't divorce his characters' emotions from their sexual actions. (Of course, I'm speaking mostly about the book of his that I remember most clearly: I re-read Dhalgren earlier this year.)
Rebecca Stevenson
36. jere7my
Jason@33, thanks for the clarification. Sorry to come down like a load of bricks — it's an old sore spot.

I thought of another male author who writes quirky but good sex scenes: Neal Stephenson. Not the sort of person you'd expect them from, perhaps, but when they do show up they're certainly memorable. And of course there's the Illuminatus! trilogy, beloved of pubescent boys everywhere....
C.D. Thomas
37. cdthomas
Some stories in this anthology give me that Leiber shiver -- the silkiness, slight nausea, a hint of powerful perfume:

http://www.amazon.com/Bitten-Erotic-Stories-Susie-Bright/dp/0811864251

Very nice, very strong stuff, from the J.J. Adams of smut anthologists.
mm Season
38. mmSeason
I'm sure i'm guilty of Unpleasant Category Four - not that i'm guessing (honest!), but i can see it could appear to be so. I look forward to working on that side of my writing...

I haven't read much but Alina Reyes does erotic magic realism. (And googling for her, i got the first name wrong and found the Alicia Reyes Elementary School - yike.

Love this post, not just because it's fun, and i'm tweeting it @mmSeason in case some of my friends aren't already following the Tor blog.
Robert Thornton
39. rthornton777
What about Robert Silverberg? He has written a lot of sex scenes over the years and I think he does a credible job.
Rebecca Stevenson
40. Catherine Evleshin
KSR, the Mars trilogy...Nirgal and Jackie, face-plates accidentally bonking, the rumbling volcano under them.
Luke M
41. lmelior
@29,31,33
Am I the only one who, when my coworkers ask me what I'm reading, I refer to the book as "sci-fi/fantasy" instead of just "fantasy" to avoid embarrassment? I do read a small amount of science fiction, but a good 90% of what I read is firmly in the fantasy genre. It is exactly for this reason.
Rebecca Stevenson
42. c=3
Seems I read an author named Andre Norton. I remember some post-Golden Age sci-fi of people living in a sky scraper. People were "required" to have sex with anyone who asked for it. Which brought about an interesting plot point of a man who chose to refuse. I don't remember the title, but I DO remember the sexual theme. Nancy Kress in the Sleepless series covered different aspects of sex in (to me) unique ways.

As far as women vs men in writing style... women by nature are far more sensual than men. And that is distinguishable from sexual to me. I think this lends to women including more sexual content and less brutality.

As a man, I find myself being intensely focused on achieving results for my partner so she has a fantastic experience. Sometimes, it boils down to hard work. For me, that ends up as an IKEA experience but still very rewarding. For a different partner, though, no real technique is required. At those times, it seems as though anything and everything I do sets off an electrical firestorm of intensity leaving us both numb in mind and body. (Queue style 3 as I get out my thesaurus)

The point is, for most women sex and emotion are intertwined. Writing a novel requires emotional insight. Writing a how to guide, a technical insight. For men, there is a distinct separation. Its a body function. Its a skill. Its a perhaps a discipline. If a woman discusses sex with her girlfriends, sordid details are requested and relished. When a man discusses with his buddies, the conversation is often wrapped in humor and bravado or delivered with a callous rawness involving spit and thumbs. This would equip a female author with a better social feedback system for a sex scene, while males likely get better feedback for the mechanics of trebuchet's and plasma cannons.

When I read science fiction I usually am looking for intellectual stimulation of concepts and ideas of what might happen. I prefer hard science and gritty political commentary. When I read fantasy, I want empowerment through magic/specialability/weaponryandcombatskill and wonderment at the unexplainable. I rarely am seeking a sexual turn on. Vampire novels tend to be a genre where this is expected however. Probably why Anne Rice has more female fans than Arthur C Clarke.

As these genre's give an infinite pallette to explore humanism, of which sex is an important element, the fact that we get more Marquis De Sade then Don Juan de Marco is probably the most interesting observation one could make of male authors.

Now I'm off to find a fanfic where Myrddral = Cennobites and a puzzle box is a ter'angreal... hmmmm....
Elio García
43. Egarcia
c=3 @42,

Is that a Norton novel you're describing, re: skyscrapers? Reminds me of Robert Silverberg's The World Inside, taking place in an "urban monad" (giant skyscraper/arcology) where men are supposed to go "night-walking" and women are legally required to have sex whenever and by whomever asked.
Sandi Kallas
44. Sandikal
I think a category of sex scenes got left out.

5. What the heck are they doing that for? This category would be for sex scenes that fit neither the story nor the characters. I think it's become common as sex in fiction is becoming not just accepted, but expected. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong partners, it just doesn't fit and it jars the reader out of the story.
Estara Swanberg
45. Estara
How come no one has mentioned Tanith Lee yet?
I may not have read her Silver Metal Lover myself, but everyone mentions that as a classic. I can recommend the short story retelling of Beauty and the Beast for subtle eroticism AND an exploration of personal alienation with your apparent culture.

There's also the Flat Earth series which Norilana is rereleasing - Azhrarn was one of the first fictional males that ever got me hot as a teenager ^^
Norilana Books - TaLeKa Imprint.

More on the romance side but really good (mostly military) science fiction, too, are the novels by Linnea Sinclair - sex included. I especially recommend Games of Command and Accidental Goddess (I love that her heroes and heroines are generally able, intelligent adults without too stupid to live genes).

http://www.linneasinclair.com/books.html
j p
46. sps49
There have been some, but I can't recall any of the examples in good books.

The War of Powers series by Robert Vardeman and Victor Milan has several explicit scenes, but the stroke value is almost more important than the plot.

And I know some male readers recall John Norman's Gor series. I liked the stories at first, but they became unreadable when the storylines were replaced by diatribes.

I know there are some good ones. Where are my books packed?

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment