Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction

By Wendy Gay Pearson; Veronica Hollinger et al. | Go to book overview

BDSMSF(QF): Sadomasochistic
Readings of Québécois Women's
Science Fiction

Sylvie Bérard

For the first time in my life, I was living in the world where my fanta-
sies – what I once considered perversions – were fully accepted, even
encouraged.

— Chelsea Shepard, Worthy of a Master 110

Sexual themes are quite common in science fiction, demonstrated for instance in the many entries in sf dictionaries and encyclopaedias and in the many anthologies that revolve around speculative sexuality.1 Interestingly, sexual representations in sf stories often suggest a certain level of sadism, or at least of cruelty. From the impossibility of sexual encounters between the mutually alien bodies of human beings and Others (for example, in Octavia Butler's 'Bloodchild' [1984]) to the mind's entrapment in a machine that prevents any sexually induced exultation (for example, in Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang [1961]); from psychologically painful mutations (as in Samuel R. Delany's 'Aye, and Gomorrah…' [1967]) to the loss of the corporeal envelope in cyberspace (as in Pat Cadigan's Mindplayers [1988]), science fiction has not always been kind to the physical body in the stories that it tells. Beyond even these conjunctures of sf and sadomasochistic fantasies, however, there is an active subgenre that combines sf and sadomasochism – or BDSM.2 Its fictions depict scenes of domination and submission, of consensual (and sometimes not so consensual) torture and bondage, of BDSM established as a system. Books such as Cecilia Tan's The Velderet (2001), Chelsea Shepard's TWO MOONS series (2003–2004), and K. M. Frontain's BOUND IN STONE series (2005) fall into this category. John Norman's sadomasochistic-fantasy series GOR (1966–2001) made such a strong impression on the BDSM community that it led to a new set of material practices: real people, calling themselves Goreans, actually live their fantasies within the

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