I’m here to talk about sex and writing about sex, especially writing sex in science fiction that expands beyond real-world boundaries and assumptions about sex. To evoke a recent Hugo winner, I’ll call it a three-body problem, where the three elements are sex, science fiction, and writing itself, and the solution requires understanding of each. I see many essays about sexuality or sexual identity in genre fiction — I’ve written quite a few myself — that I feel don’t adequately include the act of writing itself in the equation. Because once I began to address writing directly in the relationship between sexuality and science fiction, I laid bare the entire fallacy of the literary establishment, which condemns laser beams and lasciviousness equally.

Cecilia Tan
Out of This World Sex Writing

American SF is a wide field in itself, but I sometimes think that it can be limited by shared sensibilities and reading protocols, by the conversation with how things have been done before. This is changing slightly as ever more novels are produced, and as the Young Adult contribution to science fiction is taking a larger place in the conversation, but I still feel that there is a cultural koine there that elides a universe of experiences.

Liz Bourke
Nnedi Okorafor’s LAGOON

URGENT WARNING

March 24, 2020

Here’s a quick rule of thumb. Don’t annoy science fiction writers. These are people who destroy entire planets before lunch. Think of what they’ll do to you.

John Scalzi
Whatever

Spice

March 24, 2020

He who controls the spice controls the universe.

Frank Herbert
Dune

black extra-cosmic gulfs

March 23, 2020

It was just a colour out of space — a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes.

H.P. Lovecraft
The Colour Out of Space

crucial to our salvation

March 21, 2020

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.

Isaac Asimov
My Own View
The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction

…If he concentrates on shaving, maybe he can stave off the memory of what they found at the end of that hallway and, a little later, huddled on the roof. The sight of those bodies, and the smell.

It’s actually a number of species of fungus existing together in a symbiotic mass, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, often referred to by a more colourful and more pronounceable moniker, zombie fungus. It attacks a particular family of tropical ants, known as camponitids, or carpenter ants, entering the hosts’ bodies during the yeast stage of its complex reproductive cycle. The fungus spreads through an ant’s body, maturing inside its head—and this is where things really get interesting. It eventually takes control of the infected insect, forcing it to latch on to the underside of a leaf and bite down in what we call the grip of death. Then atrophy sets in, quickly, completely destroying the sarcomere connections in the ant’s muscle fibers and reducing its sarcoplasmic reticula and mitochondria. At this point, the ant is no longer able to control the muscles of the mandible and will remain fixed in place. The fungus finally kills the ant and continues to grow as hyphae penetrate the soft tissues and begin to structurally fortify the ant’s exoskeleton. Mycelia sprout and securely anchor it to the leaf, at the same time secreting antimicrobial compounds that ward off competition from other Ophiocordyceps colonies.

….And get this, okay? These doomed ants, these poor dying bastards, they always climb to a height of precisely twenty-five point twenty plus or minus two point forty-six centimeters above the jungle floor, in environments where the humidity will remain stable between ninety-four and ninety-five percent, with temperatures between twenty and thirty Celsius. And always on the north side of the plant. In the end, sporocarps, the fungal fruiting bodies, erupt from the ant’s necking, growing a stalk that releases spores that’ll infect more ants. It’s evolution at its best and, yeah, at its most grisly, too. Mother Nature, when you get right down to it, she’s a proper cunt.

But these weren’t ants. These were human beings.

Well, sure, and this isn’t Ophiocordyceps, either. We’re not even sure if it’s an actual fungus. No one’s ever seen anything like it. Jesus, if I didn’t know better, I’d say it came from outer space….

Caitlín R. Kiernan
Agents of Dreamland

Made it up

March 20, 2020

“You mean old books?”

“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”

“How could there have been stories about space travel before –“

“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”

Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Safe for now…?

March 19, 2020

Aliens have postponed Earth visits / Invasion due to Coronavirus concerns!

You’re safe for now. But watch out in eighteen months time, boys & girls, they’ll be back with their probes and instruments!

Rod Serling would like you to consider the last man on earth.
He is the original smoking man,
in a dark suit, his cigarette’s curling trail a sinister signal.
How we become the monsters we fear.
The lonely alien lost on our home planet.
He knows the end of the world can be a playground
or a parable. He invites us into alternate dimensions.
We understand his clipped sombre tones take us on a tour
of gambling casinos in which we are always winning,
scary doors leading to nowhere, manicured lawns
weeping with dread. Airplanes carry gremlins on their wings,
and history is subject to change without notice.
If it could happen on Maple Street,
could it happen in your town, in your dreams?
Drunks become emperors. Beauties become beasts.
Every person born is condemned to die, he intones,
time and method to be determined.
We can race alone through space on a meteor,
perhaps prevent Pearl Harbour, or the earth sizzles
beneath an unrepentant sun. The end is always nigh
in Serling’s worlds, one push of a button, one minor twitch
away from melting before our eyes.

Jeannine Hall Gailey