By Nobilis Reed (Guest Blogger)
I write science fiction and fantasy erotica. As shocking as it may sound, I’ve never owned a sex robot, I’ve never magically transformed into a woman, and I’ve never had sex in zero gravity. I have not had the pleasure of fucking a space alien, or an elf, or a tentacled horror.
I can hear your collective gasps. Shocking, isn’t it?
As far as I’m concerned, straight women writing gay erotic romance, vanilla folks writing kink, men writing from the point of view of randy college girls―those folks have it easy. There are a thousand blogs out there written by people who are living those lives. It’s easy to empathize with someone who’s living on Earth in the twenty-first century, because we have so many things in common.
Try imagining you’re a woman who has just discovered that you’re descended from a hermaphrodite that came to Earth from another dimension. Imagine that you now understand why you have a penis-sized clit and magical powers, unlike anyone else but your mother. Imagine you travel to your ancestor’s home dimension, where you’re not a freak, but rather a member of the aristocracy.
Or imagine you’re a young man in the distant future, who has just been recruited by an interstellar courier service whose ships are powered by sex. Imagine you’re a Roman procurator who is exploring the Great Lakes in a steam-turbine ship. Imagine you’re an engineer who has fallen in love with the woman who wrote the software for your nano-tech garment that can turn into any item of clothing.
Try researching that.
It's a real stretch for the imagination. Not only am I working out the minds and hearts of individual people, I'm working out cultural norms for entire societies. I'm not just breaking taboos, I'm setting them up in the first place and giving them reasons for being there to boot. Science. Technology. Government. Religion. All of these things need consideration, because all of them bear on the character’s experience.
Sure, there’s research that can help with that effort, studying real culture and history of places that might be something like what I’m dreaming up. For the ‘magical hermaphrodites’ setting I’ve found ‘third gender’ traditions in various cultures around the world that can help shed some light, and even though we don’t have wizards blasting fireballs at their enemies, we certainly have legends and magical traditions where fantasy writers have found their building blocks.
And certainly there are many who have gone before in creating alien cultures. There’s probably no better resource for creating good speculative fiction than to read a wide variety of good speculative fiction. I’m certainly not copying other folks’ work, but the imagination is nourished by the imagination of others.
In the end, though, when I create a new universe to set stories in, I’m the first person to write about it. You can’t get much more “other” than that!
Now I admit that there are advantages to writing speculative fiction. For one thing, I am the ultimate authority of reality in my constructed universes. I get to say how things work. There are no outside authorities to tell me I got some historical details wrong, or that my geography is out of whack. There’s a certain amount of freedom there.
Ultimately, though, stories are about people and if the people don’t come across as essentially and consistently human, then the reader is not going to connect well with them, and the story will fail. This kind of failure is sometimes overt; the reader shouts, “People don’t act like that!” and puts the book down, but this can also manifest as simply a mild distaste. “I just couldn’t get into it,” she might say. “I couldn’t get into the characters.”
That’s the challenge every author faces. Like anyone else, I use research, empathy and imagination to make that happen. I’m just stretching a little farther when I do it.
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www.nobiliserotica.com, and his audio podcast at nobilis.libsyn.com.
Check out Coming Together: Arm in Arm in Arm - tentacle erotica for charity, coming this month!