Sunday, July 09, 2006

Aliens, housecleaning -- Isn't it romantic?

Would I want to see Mr Spock vacuuming up my dustbunnies?
I don't think the spectacle would be either romantic or funny. Not for me, anyway.

I imagine that Mr Spock, if confronted with the need to use alien household appliances, would locate the appropriate user manual, study the instructions, and carry out the domestic operation with great efficiency and a deadpan expression.

Maybe he'd raise a quizzical, Vulcan flying eyebrow. Actually, that might be romantic in a traditional Regency romance sort of way.

Of course, in my home, a highly intelligent and efficient alien might have trouble finding instruction manuals. If I were to write a blow-by-blow account of the exercise, I think an alien would comment. His remarks would probably be very funny to everyone except myself, the butt of his cool wit.

I am sure many authors have written scenes where their aliens have issues with human housecleaning appliances....

Dara Joy's splendid early novel, Knight Of A Trillion Stars, comes to mind. What was it her alien hunk attacked with his broadsword, thinking it was a rival? A TV? An answering machine?

I could check, but that wouldn't start a discussion. For me, that book is a Keeper. I keep all my Keepers in a library/closet I made under my very broad staircase, the trouble is, right now it's a bit hard to get into that closet for reasons I won't go into. Its door still shuts and locks, though.

Is chopping up the furniture the closest that any alien hero has come to housework? If not, I'd love recommendations. Generally, I think alien heroes tend to be extremely macho. They are world rulers, starship commanders, space pirates, intergalactic diplomats or trading tycoons.... they have servants, or orderlies, or androids to do the domestic dirty work.

Maybe I just haven't read the right books. No one seems to wash their clothes, or scrub toilets in an alien romance. Susan Kearney said that her aliens' clothing was self cleaning (smart!!! and with nano-technology, this is becoming a reality). Intelligent spaceships have aircleaning devices that work a lot better than the monsters we keep in our human furnace rooms. I once thought of modeling an alien toilet on a whole-house vacuum.

Then I read a joke about a sexually adventurous man who did himself a mischief.

In FORCED MATE my alien prince does have a little bit of trouble drawing a bath, mostly because he takes a macho stand (sitting on its edge, waiting for the heroine to take her clothes off and get in) without realizing that human baths don't automatically stop filling once the water reaches a sensible level.

He also has trouble with a shopping list. To his chagrin, he learns that Marijuana is not the fragrant, feminine toiletry product that he'd assumed it was.

And... he has trouble with the heroine when she discovers that his spacecraft toilets perform automatic urinalysis and a few other functions and announce the results. Romantic? Maybe not, but it appealed to my low sense of humor.

And then, there's recycling. We all do it, I suppose. Like Susan Sizemore, I like military books. I find them a treasure trove for research, for instance for battlefield uses for urine (to make communications equipment work). My heroine of FORCED MATE is grossed out when she learns how spacefarers obtain yeast to make deep space bread. But that's getting into cuisine, and housekeeping, rather than house cleaning.

My "thing" is to gaze at the underbelly of an alien character's lovelife and poke fun at it. And, you might not have guessed it, but of all the sciences in science fiction, Biology is my favorite.

I'll be gone for the next four weeks. Do you know the ins and outs of a crab's sex life? I do. :-)

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry
with excerpts from Linnea's Accidental Goddess and Brenna Lyons' Last Chance
and an Exotic Male Entertainer


  1. Maybe not romantic but placing our 'out there' protagonists 'here' is a lot of fun. One of my current WIPS has a female intergalactic zombie hunter who ends up in (relatively) present day Florida, without her "Frommer's" guide, so to speak. I'm having a terrific time seeing things anew that we take for granted, like traffic lights. The verbal miscommunications are also a hoot. Her "English" isn't quite the same as ours (she calls it Vekran) and so when she tries to converse with the locals, it's not only frustrating (for her) but hilarious.

    But then, Rowena, you had to go from petrol, boot and lorry to gas, trunk and truck. ~Linnea

  2. Linnea,

    Not to mention peckers, which are an entirely different body part in English English, and almost never covered, unless by hair.