Robin D. Owens graciously joined Jacquie Rogers and Sandy Lender to talk about animals in fiction (on Groundhog Day) on my Crazy Tuesday radio show this week. Our collective specialities were (and are) cats, mules, dragons and turtles, but we also discussed sex. We always do!
For instance, Jacquie Rogers pointed out that mules are the result of a male donkey having his way with a female horse. Mules are hybrids, because horses and donkeys are different species. Male mules are sterile. (Some female mules can breed, in which case, they are called Mollies.)
Because the male mule is sterile, he is an intelligent, thoughtful, reasonably good-tempered animal... which is why Jacquie's protagonist, the match-making, philosophising "Socrates" is a mule. I love that sort of logic.
We speculated about small male Donkey in "Shrek" mating, obviously successfully, with the very large female Dragon and producing five, winged and horned donkey-dragon hybrids. We did not worry about the dronkeys' ability to reproduce when they grow up. What interested me about the Donkey-Dragon issue in Shrek was that the facial structures of donkey and dragon were similar, which made their sexual relationship plausible enough for me to suspend disbelief.
The size issue wasn't too troublesome. The dragon was a cougar. He was a boy-toy. Dachshunds have impregnated Great Danes. If the sexes had been reversed, and the large, sexually aggressive dragon had been male, I might have found a great deal wrong with that relationship.
Robin's Celta world is populated with descendents of (I think she said) twenty-five noble families who fled from Earth in a space ark to escape persecution because of their psychic abilities. Several generations aboard a space ark concentrated their psychic abilities. Twenty five families is good -- just about the right amount of inbreeding. There were 74 men and 28 women on the Mayflower.
One of the most creative novellas, in respect to breeding and future twists in our current taboos, is Ravyn Wilde's A.D. 2203: Adam & Eve (published by Ellora's Cave). Ravyn's premise was that humans would live in harmony with shapeshifters, vampires etc. However, since werewolves have special breeding needs and only fall in love permanently with one life mate, it is the law of the world that-- if a woman turns on a werewolf with her pheromonal scent while she is ovulating and he manages to find her and bite her and have sex with her-- she is legally bound to marry him.
Now, there's a twist on sexual affirmative action!
In Brave New World, humans were divided into 5 castes according to intellect, from Alphas to Deltas as I recall (it's been over 30 years). Alphas bred with alphas and rules the world. Deltas bred with deltas and did the dirty jobs.
In Mary Doria Russell's alien world of "The Sparrow" breeding rights went to the first-born in the family. Third sons had to be satisfied with sterile unions either with genetically incompatible other species or with homosexual partners.... unless they distinguished themselves.
Mostly in science fiction romance, authors don't stray too far from our current sexual mores and taboos. We avoid or gloss over bestiality, and incest, but homosexuality is as acceptable now as it was in the Greek heroic days of Achilles and Patrocles.
Over the course of various human histories, there have been many laws, taboos, prohibitions and social conventions restricting a person's choice of with whom he --and especially she-- may marry or breed. Most have been "Thou shalt not" type laws, rather than "Thou shalt."
I wonder whether the pendulum will swing. When we were discussing one-world government, most correspondents envisaged a confederation of separate, harmonious states presumably (although this was not explicitly stated) along existing racial or national lines.
But what if the "Melting Pot" idea became formulated into law?
Conversely, what if humans followed the Brave New World model, and we were encouraged to become specialized, like ants. Teachers would breed with teachers to produce super-teachers. Warriors would breed with warriors; geeks with geeks; actors with actors.
That's not too far fetched, is it? In fact, throughout history --until modern times-- royals married royals.
"Conversely, what if humans followed the Brave New World model, and we were encouraged to become specialized, like ants. Teachers would breed with teachers to produce super-teachers. Warriors would breed with warriors; geeks with geeks; actors with actors."ReplyDelete
Human nature would have to go through radical changes for that to occur. It is basic human nature to be fascinated with the 'Other,' a fascination without which, I might add, there would be no Science Fiction Romance subgenre at all. Humans are biologically programmed to be this way to avoid the dangers of inbreeding.
"That's not too far fetched, is it? In fact, throughout history --until modern times-- royals married royals."
Yes, royals married royals, but they had sex with every Tom, Dick, and Mary they wanted, which meant lots and lots of illegitimate children.
As a social extension of that fact, because royals married for power rather than love they didn't always get along with their offspring. However, some of the non-marital unions were based on love and the royals were, therefore, more attached to the resulting offspring. Not only were these offspring born of love, but they had no political power unless their royal parents gave it to them. They were generally not a threat to the royals' power.
Of course, this is all based on the European model of marriage from the Middle Ages.
If you want to read about a real life situation of inbreeding and selective breeding, Google the FLDS, the cult offshoot of the Mormon Church. They've been inbreeding with just a few families for about a hundred years now, some say for preferred white race appearances, like blond blue eyed people. This inbreeding has resulting in the prevalence of a genetic disorder too. They're the cult whose children were taken into custody by the state of Texas for coercing child-brides into marriage with middle-aged men a couple of years ago.ReplyDelete
"Human nature would have to go through radical changes for that to occur. It is basic human nature to be fascinated with the 'Other,' a fascination without which, I might add, there would be no Science Fiction Romance subgenre at all. Humans are biologically programmed to be this way to avoid the dangers of inbreeding."ReplyDelete
That's the premise of James Tiptree's classic story "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side." It has very little plot and is mainly an exposition of that premise -- that, like parent birds feeding a cuckoo chick at the expense of their own offspring, the super-normal stimulus of the Other would lure us to mate with aliens rather than our own species even though such matings would be sterile. Fascinating! (I use that story to introduce one of the major themes of my nonfiction book DIFFERENT BLOOD: THE VAMPIRE AS ALIEN.)
In BRAVE NEW WORLD, there are indeed five castes, but the lowest is Epsilons, who are of subnormal intelligence and relegated, as you said, to the most menial jobs. How odd that an author such as Huxley, creating what was then a very innovative vision of the future, gave no thought to the obvious fact that in such a technologically advanced society, the menial jobs would be done by machines.
It has been 38 years since I read Brave New World. I did not enjoy what we called at the time "The Modern Depressings". And my Latin and Greek were never good!
Epsilons were indeed the lowest class. Thank you for the correction.
I disagree on cuckoos, though. As I understand it, hatchling cuckoo chicks expel their smaller fellows from the nest, so the cuckoo parents only see the stimulus of the one gaping bill.
Kimber An, thank you for your thoughtful comments.ReplyDelete
I believe that the Russian royal family suffered from haemophilia which is passed on by the female line.
There was the "Hapsburg chin, jaw, and lip."
The inbred pharoahs had a congenital problem, too.
But, despite anecdotal warnings from history, it is possible (I imagine) that some desirable trait for the survival of mankind might override ancient taboos.
"I disagree on cuckoos, though. As I understand it, hatchling cuckoo chicks expel their smaller fellows from the nest, so the cuckoo parents only see the stimulus of the one gaping bill."ReplyDelete
I believe that's true. I oversimplified in haste. Another example of supernormal stimulus is refined sugar. In prehistoric times, sweetness led people to eat lots of fruit (when they could get it), which contained important nutrients. Refined sugar provides a level of sweetness not found in nature -- except for honey, I guess, which prehistoric people probably didn't have much opportunity to gorge on to an unhealthy extent -- irresistibly attractive to the taste buds but with no nutrition except calories.
Forgot about the pharoahs. If memory serves now, it was scoliosis (spelling?)ReplyDelete
History tells us that it is possible to have a positive result to inbreeding, but not without something bad.
In the example above, Pharoah Tutenkamen was found to have it bad and he was buried with his two stillborn infants. It's believed Tut married his sister. His dynasty managed to keep the power in the family for a loooooong time through marital incest and that's a good thing from their point of view, but in the end it destroyed them. That dynasty died with him and a new one started.
I like this topic. A little strange- what with the donkeys and all-but I like strange and it made me think. :)ReplyDelete
We now have the technology to pass certain desirable traits right into the egg and weed out bad ones. What will it all mean?
The idea of a destined mate is romantic, to me, because you want to believe that no one else can take the other's place and that the children of such a union are destined.
I think people pick partners for a variety of reasons. Maybe instinctively. Maybe for love, power, money, or some belief. I think technology will allow people more freedom in their choices then they had in the past; and maybe instead of doom and gloom real love will come at last. :)