Friday, April 3, 2009

Love, Sex, and Outer Space

It turns out that line marriages are common for loonies.

The Speculative Realms anthology features the following short story from Lancer Kind, along with other fine work such as Jeff "Parish's Of Bones and Blades", Karen Lee Field's "Where Strength Lies", and these other fine authors.

KanjiKiss by Lancer Kind

A story of the near future where a young man, in love with technology but frustrated with laboring on his parent's farm, has a techno-mystical awakening that takes him from Wyoming and leads him along the Internet backbone to Seattle. There, he falls in love with a woman called KanjiKiss. Although he only knows her by her network handle, he wishes to take the relationship to the next step, a new technological next step. His family tries to stop him from committing to a relationship in a way that can never be undone.


The science fiction genre is dominated by stories of future thought. There is a wealth of opinions on love and sex since those topics capture the most interest for us on planet Earth. By launching a shipload of characters into outer space, the author limbers up the ability to tell a story because the reader's imagination is less likely to think--no, that can't happen.

I mean, it's not like the reader has been to space.

Even though an author can fling characters across the Universe, the story is really about a concern that is contemporary to the author. To take a look at this effect, lets look at some historical examples by taking two characters on a trans-story journey and see what trouble they get into.

Meet Bobby and Kathrine. Bobby is athletic and smart with flashing blue eyes. In heels, Kathrine is nearly as tall as Bobby, has wild dark hair, and is full figured. They know each other but haven't made it to first base. Actually, they have no interest in baseball at all--their hormones are telling them that they want to get laid. Maybe it's for love, or maybe it's for sex. Let's send them somewhere and see what happens.

Bobby and Kathrine travel to the year 2075 to live on the moon (become loonies). In Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the moon is a frontier colony where Earth's undesirables are sent, like Australia was for the British. Lunar Colony is built underneath the surface, and it is in the artificial lights of a tunnel where Bobby and Kathrine meet. Like on Earth, the people of the moon have access to birth control, so sex can be a recreational activity. Bobby first makes polite conversation until he is encouraged by her strong eye contact. After making her laugh at his clumsy ability to walk on his hands in the moon's weak gravity, they have casual sex in a quiet underground garden. But when Bobby presses for something longer term, Katherine tells him she has to check with her husbands.

Husband*s*? Huh?

It turns out that line marriages are common for loonies. A line marriage, like the line of a family name, continues as long as there are participants to carry on the marriage. Resources are shared by all of the family which crosses generations. There can be multiple wives and husbands and at any time, one may add to the family by voting in the new member. If Bobby's the jealous type, being in a relationship with Katherine will never work because she'll eventually share a different husband's bed. But Bobby, being a loony, is used to this since it is part of his culture. However he now needs more than Katherine's love, he must impress the entire family in order to get voted in.

Good luck Bobby!

Why line marriages on the moon? Since there is half as many women as men on the moon, it is a way to ease the social the pressure. Heinlein was also making a statement about what was happening when he wrote the novel in the 1960s. He makes a point about how the line marriages were fully multi-ethnic, where at the time in the US there were miscegenation laws (outlawing interracial sex and marriage), and while he was at it, he decide to write into his novel a thought experiment about how polygamy could be beneficial too.

Next, Bobby and Kathrine fall into a trans-story singularity and drop into Whileaway, one of the worlds describe in Joanna Russ's The Female Man. On Whileaway, Katherine's name becomes Kate, and she ignores Bobby because she is into Missy, her new girlfriend. Bobby makes himself scarce on Whileaway because the existence of men is only legend, and everyone thinks he is some kind of deformed woman. Missy and Kate fall in love and have a daughter through a process called parthengenetics.

Joanna Russ wrote The Female Man during the 1970's feminist movement and she achieved publication in the male dominated science fiction genre in 1975. Throughout the novel, Joanna Russ exposes the inequities in sexual relationships and love. She invents four different worlds to tell a story about four woman coming together to decide what to do about men.

Bobby, who is not happy on Whileaway, wakes up the next morning shaving aboard the Battlestar Galactica, and Kate becomes Kat and is a bad-ass viper pilot. She returns from patrol duty and sees Bobby shaving in their co-ed locker room. She decides he's cute and wraps her arms around his waist while he is focused on slicing away the whiskers beneath his jaw-bone. Bobby quickly gives up and turns into her arms. She presses him against the sink and gets the washcloth from behind Bobby and uses it to clean the shaving cream off his face, and then teases it against the back of his neck as she kisses him. Soon the two of them are struggling into the relative privacy of a shower stall, removing their cloths.

Much of the culture in the new Battlestar Galactica feels the same as Earth, though amped up because everything seems to happen more quickly when living in cramped conditions. The sexual rituals and love rituals are the most familiar out of the three science fiction stories Bobby and Kathrine have journeyed through. The two novels wanted to put radical thought of human relationship on the stage because at the time, the authors had a lot to say about how we were behaving. BSG is more of a mirror of what we are today and puts us on the stage so we can critique ourselves about what it means to be sentient. The biggest faux pas of the show is to have sex with a Cylon, also known as frakken around with a toaster.

That sounds kinky, or dangerous. OK, both.


Lancer is a multipublished author. He lives the Pacific Northwest with his lovely wife Shelli and their imaginary rooster Jimmy
Please visit, subscribe to his blog and you can read the following stories:
Parsec Hiccup is about a musical love triangle with a space western mixed in for good measure.
New Sofa, New Girl is about a geeky IT guy who discovers a woman living beneath his new sofa. <-- science fictionist

Check out Lancer's other anthologies.


Mark Alders said...

great post, Lancer. Thanks for stopping by. What an inspiration :-)


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