Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sex And Gender

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

Tahirians copulate by kissing and both become pregnant. This is a genuinely different reproductive system, far more imaginative than the Jovian male/demi-male/female trisexuality in Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer or the bi-species trisexuality of Larry Niven's Puppeteers.

Olaf Stapledon's Neptunian observer tells us, through Stapledon, that his species, the Last Men, have many sexes but does not elaborate. CS Lewis imagined immortal space-dwelling beings, the eldila, with no sex but seven genders. Thus, personality types or genders (masculine: active; feminine: passive; others:?) are separated from reproductive functions and then increased in number. I used to argue at school that God was not male but nevertheless masculine (active, creative) but other pupils did not understand this distinction. I still understand it but am no longer sure that I buy into it.

Lewis mysteriously refers only once to these seven genders. However, this author created something entirely unique, two very different and equally imaginative fictional restatements of Christianity: Narnia and Ransom. Although Lewis' anti-Wellsian theological sf is unique, Anderson touches on the same themes in "The Problem of Pain" and The Game Of Empire. Thus, this line of thought has taken us from Starfarers via Three Worlds To Conquer, Niven, Stapledon and Lewis to Anderson's Technic History.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    While I think the idea of there being more than two sexes seems needlessly complex, because of increasing the difficulty of reproducing, I grant that other intelligent races might have more than two sexes.

    Commenting on your last paragraph. Yes, I agree, Poul Anderson was one of the few major SF writers who was neither hostile to religious believers or indifferent to theological questions or problems. To use his Technic History series as an example, he showed Christianity and Judaism (as well as Buddhism) still surviving and AFFECTING people, human and non human alike, a thousand years from now.

    There were other SF authors, of course, who treated religion seriously. Examples being James Blish's A CASE OF CONSCIENCE, Walter Miller's A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, and Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE.

    Sean

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