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Wednesday 08 October 2008


Proclamations of the Red Queen

29th February 2008

Fiction: XLGBT?

Posted by: Craig Young

Welcome to the 23rd Century. The TFV Radclyffe is about to lift off from Auckland Interstellar Spaceport, on a trade and diplomatic mission with several alien species with their own LGBT members.

It’s odd that science fiction has virtually never explored variant sexualities and gender identities amongst extra-terrestrials. While LGBT SF authors exist, and do brilliant work, they seem earthbound and don’t often venture offworld, with the exception of Samuel Delany in the United States, and the late Octavia Butler. I hope Dr Who and Torchwood creator Russell Davies proves me wrong about this.

So what would LGBT aliens look like? Ever since I read Dougal Dixon’s fascinating future anthropological, evolutionary and alternate dinosaur volumes, I wondered what would happen if we ever encountered LGBT nonhumans.

Assuming that the human species has somehow managed to get to 2207 without destroying our planetary ecology altogether or wiping ourselves out in a nuclear holocaust, let’s do some exploring. For the sake of convenience, I’ve assumed convergent evolution on the five worlds that we will come across.

Four light years from Earth, Alpha Centauri is a binary star system, with its own system of planets. Due to its dual suns, its ecosphere is located somewhat further out than our own, although we’d find the dominant species on its fifth planet Hestia familiar. The Hestians are hymenopterid, akin to our own ants, bees and termites, which are social insects whose castes are determined by gestational hormones that produce female workers, male drones, female soldiers, and king consorts to dominant queens. Given that Hestians have been evolving further than our own insect species, some refinements have occurred. As with Terran termites, there is a soldier caste. One quirk of the process is that the soldiers are invariably lesbian. Male drones exist in a seraglio, where they amuse themselves with male-male sex of their own, until the time arrives when the Consort Hestian dies, and the Matriarch selects a new mate to impregnate her. There are some interesting exchanges with Terran lesbians, as Hestian soldier caste lesbians tend to be socially conservative and dedicated to the maintenance of traditional hive welfare.

Two light years further on, we encounter Barnards Star, which is a red dwarf, somewhat smaller than our own sun. In this case, Cassius, its secondmost world, is closer to that primary, and somewhat warmer than our own world. Because of that, its planetary formation led to the development of rapidly eroded continental formations, and as a result, the dominant species is akin to our bottlenose dolphins, apart from their opposable limbs. Cassians are creatures of art and spirituality, and their political system is republican, hedonist and frowns on ‘excessive’ heterosexuality, due to the ecological imbalances that might result. On this world, sexuality is mostly recreational,

apart from breeding intervals, aside from a tiny minority of Cassian ‘heterosexuals.’ Their technological standard is roughly mid-twentieth century.

Epsilon Indi III orbits a world that is a main sequence yellow dwarf sun, much like our own sun. Cronus is its third planet, and is strikingly similar to Earth, except that multiple apelike creatures dominate its major continents, Troynovante and Tropikana. Troynovante is ruled by a fanatical Pontiff, who manipulates its weak secular authorities, and its inhabitants are much like Terran chimpanzees. Tropikanai are more comparable to Terran bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees), and their matriarchal society, hedonism and polyamorous lifestyle is deeply upsetting to the Troynovante Pontificate. Fortunately, fissile materials are at a premium on Cronus, although deposits have been detected on Hypercronus, the fourth Indi world, and satellites of its two largest gas giants, Georgium Sidus and Leverrier. The Tropikanai are non-militarist, but have a standing army and highly advanced genetic engineering technology, which has been used to create a marine barrier zone between the two rival continents. Some Terrans and Cassians have ethical problems with this technological development.

Finally, we encounter the Tau Ceti planetary system, another red dwarf-centred one. On Tau Ceti III, the natives are felinoid, but Tau Ceti II and IV are also habitable. When the Cetian planets were discovered in the mid-21st Century through telescopic scrutiny, the core world was named Minerva. Thus far, Minerva is the only other world in near-Terran space that is also capable of faster than light travel. It has also raised some other unusual problems. Minervans and Terrans first encountered each other in 2157, near the unplaneted red dwarf Wolf 359.

Minerva’s nation states used to hold to a monotheistic religious code known as M’kreu’ism, which disapproved of homosexuality and lesbianism and exiled LGBT Minervans to the second and fourth planets of its system, Astraea and Oceanus. Unfortunately for Minerva, its inhabitants ignored ecological risks from fossil fuel consumption until too late. However, Astraea was largely independent, and came to the motherworld’s aid, with some conditions- reform of the Minervan religious strictures against homosexuality. Having played an instrumental role in ecological crisis, the Minervan inhabitants accepted this cultural change, as M’krouism had fallen into disfavour as a result.

Shortly after Minerva and Earth had made first contact, it became apparent that mutual sexual attraction was taking place, which doesn’t correspond to the old homo/heterosexual boundaries that prevailed until the reforms of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. Now, there are debates about the morality of xenophilia (desire for Minervans or Terrans from the other species) and xenophobia (revulsion against desire or sexual contact with Minervans or Terrans from the other species).

Back in the homesystem, the two centres of this debate are fundamentalist Christoislamic Mars, and Ganymede, Jupiter’s fourth satellite. Ganymede was colonised by LGBTs from Old San Francisco and Sydney, and is a Terran world of social liberalism and sexual and social pluralism. However, Mars’ leading xenophobe activist, Dei Xing Chao, is a gay man as well, due to the normalisation of LGB sexual preferences and transgender gender identities within Terran religious systems.

—–

Back in our own time, there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not our sexualities or gender identities can or should be viewed as ‘natural’ or not. Although I respect the work of Bruce Begemihl, the foremost gay zoologist, there’s no harm in speculating what if.

Recommended

Bruce Begemihl: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity: New York: Saint Martins Press: 1999.

Dougal Dixon: After Man: New York: Saint Martins Press: 1988.

Dougal Dixon: New Dinosaurs: An Alternate Evolution: New York: Salem House: 1988.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 brilliant earth san francisco // Mar 18, 2008 at 6:47 am

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  • 2 Formidable Norwich Union Travel Insurance » Blog Archive » Fiction: XLGBT? // May 8, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    […] Fiction: XLGBT? Fiction: XLGBT? Posted by: Craig Young Welcome to the 23rd Century. The TFV Radclyffe is about to lift off from Auckland Interstellar Spaceport, on a trade and diplomatic mission with several alien species with their own LGBT members. Its odd that science fiction has virtually never explored variant sexualities and gender identities amongst […]

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