“No wife who finds her husband addicting himself to science fiction need fear that he is in search of an erotic outlet, anyway not an overt one.”
In "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis
To put it in another context, imagine I'd be teaching F. Scott Fitzgerald to undergraduates, some of whom would be of African descent. Do we look at the casual racism found in the books and say "that's wrong?" No, we assume that everyone "gets" that it's wrong. But we look at the fact that this was considered normal/acceptable in F. Scott's day. He's still a magnificent writer, but he reflects his own era. Scott’s similar to Amis. His attitude to women is a reflection of the times. We can't shy away from that and pretend it isn't so, and we can't negate him as a writer, because of it.
Imagine yourself living in Lisbon as a young woman; wouldn’t you dread the endless comments, abuse, physical assaults that were part of your everyday experience. Maybe this young woman dreamt of buying an electric cattle prod and zapping those who threatened her. But it was the times in which they lived back then. Women had no rights in the 60s. The literature of the times, reflected that. Shall we zap Amis with a cattle prod for being a man of his time? No. First of all, I believe that all good books, whether niche or mainstream or somewhere in-between, must have an implicit message they are trying to put across, which should stick out almost like a sore thumb. That said, I in no way think this should make books programmatic. Writing a novel with the sole purpose of creating a text more politically correct than anything that has ever been written might take away, all at once, all the drama and conflict that all good novels - needless to say, I am merely expressing my own point of view here - play with to a certain extent. Secondly, SF (fantasy and science-fiction), possibly more so than any other genre, and even at their most mechanically chlichéd, are written and read not simply for "idle entertainment", but as a platform for escapism. And "entertainment" and "escapism" are definitely not the same thing. Sure, escapism includes enjoyment, but there are many other elements to it as well.
If you're into SF Criticism, read on.
Love is a dangerous, forbidden emotion.
Human clone Angelo Thirteen craves something illicit—to fall in love. When a tenacious female Altonian retrieves his escape pod from the rubble of a shipwreck, he may just get his chance. Drawn to her determined spirit and mesmerizing golden eyes, he must pierce the battle thickened walls surrounding her heart to uncover what he covets most.
Elle cares about two things in the universe—her ship and her brother. When her sibling is imprisoned on a savage ice world nothing will derail her from her recovery mission, that is, until she rescues a sexy human clone from the icy coldness of space. Falling for his tender, sensuous nature wasn’t part of her plan and now she must choose between saving her brother from Alta’s prison or risking her heart.
Lose yourself in the Interstellar Lovers series with this delicious tale of sensual discovery and longing.
@RosalieRedd, @debbiereadsbook, #Science_Fiction, #Romance, #Novella, 4 out of 5 (very good)
In the third book of her Xenogenesis series, Octavia Butler gives us the alien’s perspective. It makes the Oankali marginally less creepy, but only a tiny bit. Butler excels at creating truly alien life forms, with wildly different forms of reproduction.
The Oankali having stinging cells and tentacles, giving them some resemblance to jellyfish (Cniderians) in our world, but they are upright walking, hand-and-arm-possessing, intelligent life forms. And, it turns out, they have a three stage metamorphosis like Earth’s insects do. This installment follows that mysterious third sex, the Ooloi, as one of Lilith’s children matures sexually into the adult form (hence the title, Imago).
In the first book, the Oankali have rescued the small remainder of humanity from a disaster of their own creation and have begun combining the two species. That’s what the Ooankali do and they consider it their payment for their rescue services, but that’s not what it looks like or feels like to humans. Lilith gradually becomes convinced that she won’t be allowed to live as human and reluctantly gets involved with the aliens, although it is against her true wishes.
In the second book, we follow Lilith’s construct child, Akin, who actually has five parents and who understands the relationship between the two species better than either the humans or the Oankali. He sees the basic incompatibility between the two species but also how they can also become compatible. Seemingly a paradox, which Akin reveals as a prejudice of the Oankali against humanity—we’ve always known that humans are prejudiced against the aliens.
This third installment reveals just how much the Oankali need and long for relationships with humans. To this point, they have seemed very unemotional, almost clinical, in their desire to revitalize their own DNA through incorporation of the human genome. Jodahs, who is metamorphosing into one of the mysterious Ooloi, shows us the depth of feeling, the intense sexual need, and indeed the pain of separation that we have been missing so far in the story.
Despite gaining understanding, the whole sexual system of the Oankali feels deeply creepy. The human male and female in the sexual constellation experience repulsion when they touch one another directly, but when joined by an Ooloi, experience intense sexual pleasure. Pheromones by the Ooloi make the situation addictive—being apart from one’s group becomes torment.
Butler is skillful in her refusal to “pick a side.” She provides logical reasons for the aliens’ behaviour and points out both the logical and totally illogical responses of humanity. She explores co-operation, coercion, limited choice, and unequal power without making it obvious which species she favours.
In some ways, this series makes me think of Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in that humanity is being absorbed into a genetic continuum, but likely won’t survive on its own ever again. Do we mourn the loss or celebrate what survives?
Book 260 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.
Narrated by Tom Weiner
This was an audiobook reread for me, so it was a bit weird in parts. There's a fair amount of Latin, but that's not too much of an obstacle. It's a book that's hard to pin down. It's a post-apocalyptic view of the world after a nuclear war. The story centres around a Benedictine abbey in the Utah desert, so when they share stories about the world's end they talk about Lucifer as the atomic bomb and the demon Fallout. The abbey is tasked with preserving knowledge from before the war, most of which they no longer comprehend, and we follow several characters at crucial points throughout the abbey's history until things come full circle.
The narration was good, and overall I enjoyed listening to it, but it wasn't a very happy read and some of the catholicism was weird and pretty out there.
45% (after backing up a couple of hours)