Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature

Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature

Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature

Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature

Synopsis

This comprehensive volume explores the relationship between sex and the fantastic in science fiction and fantasy literature. More than a dozen scholars have contributed essays in which they discuss almost two hundred novels, short stories, tales, plays, poems, myths, and nearly one hundred authors--from Aldiss to Zelazny. The collection is divided into three main sections, the first of which is devoted to the theoretical analysis of the relationship between sexuality and the fantastic. This section contains essays on sexuality and the allure of fantasy, and sexuality and knowledge in science fiction. The second section turns to thematic analyses and includes essays that explore such themes as sexuality and death, forbidden sexuality, sexual attitudes and the search for ethics in contemporary culture, sex and technology, sexual encounters with aliens, sexuality and comedy, and homosexuality in fantasy and science fiction. The third section, devoted to feminist views of sexuality in fantastic literature, includes several studies of the depiction of sexuality in the works of female fantasists, and focuses most closely on Russ, Piercy, LeGuin, and Carter. Examined here is the potential use of science fiction as a vehicle for theorizing about women and for questioning their condition in society. The volume also includes an introductory overview and critical commentary on the literature and a comprehensive, contributor-compiled bibliography of primary works and scholarship on sexuality and related issues in fantastic literature.

Excerpt

Donald Palumbo

The study of sexuality and fantastic literature is a broad confluence of two vast streams of interest and inquiry. People have long been intrigued by both--and been soothed, fascinated, daunted, and inspired by both as well. Nearly everyone has a significant, prolonged, and probably personal interest in sexuality. Overwhelmed by data, we concoct theories, experimentally test this or that hypothesis (although not always in a spirit of dispassionate quest for truth), share findings, and engage in inconclusive colloquy. Everyone has an opinion, and most can be considered practitioners of one stripe or another--if not experts.

While many round the shoals of sexuality, few sound fantasy's depths. Yet the body of fantastic literature is itself overwhelming, even if it is explored by a far smaller crew of experts and practitioners than the human body. Because the essential processes of art are fundamentally different from--if not diametrically opposite to--those of life, events cannot possibly be presented in literature the way they occur in reality. Thus, one can logically argue that all literature is fantastic: Things just do not happen that way. and even if some discriminator defines the realm of fantastic literature as being a bit less all encompassing--decides, for instance, that only the depiction of that . . .

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