Valentine's day is coming up, which means it's time to get romantic with your alien loved one. But how exactly do you do the deed with someone whose DNA comes from the other side of the galaxy? How do you negotiate differing erogenous zones and the possibility that your lover may want to eat you after the act? Read our handy primer on getting down and dirty with a member of an extraterrestrial species.
If you want to get more in-depth on the possibilities of alien sex, sink your eyes into Ellen Datlow's Alien Sex anthology. Also, check out our lists of hot alien/human couples, most embarrassing alien mating scenes (NSFW), and best scifi sex scenes.
Determine your Sexual Compatibility
It's all well and good if a proto-humanoid seeded its genetic information throughout the universe (à la Star Trek), or if your potential alien mate happens to be a physical clone of your dead husband (à la Starman), but not every species is going to be sexually compatible with every other. But don't let the fact that your parts don't quite interlock stop you from having a fulfilling sexual experience. Find out what pleases your partner and what your partner can do for you in return. Treat tentacles, for example, not as an obstacle, but an opportunity.
Bear in mind that the actions that give your partner pleasure may not look much like sex to you. Consider the bird-lizard laeske in Carla Speed McNeil's Finder story Mystery Date (granted, a construct, but an alien enough species from the human perspective), whose most intense pleasure comes from carrying its young upon its back and then regurgitating food into the youngling's mouth. That may not be the exchange of bodily fluids you had in mind, but it's no less viable as an intimate act.
But sometimes sexual compatibility can come in unlikely forms. In the miniseries Something is Out There, Ta'Ra and others from Zeton experience the greatest sexual pleasure in their hands. Heavy petting could be loads of mutual fun.
Wooing Your Alien Mate
Some aliens can't wait to jump in the sack with humans. Our DNA is in high demand all over the universe, and aliens will resort to all sorts of tactics to get us into bed. V's alien Visitors disguise themselves as gorgeous humanoids, while in Earth Girls Are Easy, Mac shaves off all his blue fur. In Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis books, the Oankali coax humans to interbreed with them by forbidding them to have children otherwise. (As a bonus, the Oankali ooloi gender delivers incredible orgasms during sexytimes.) In I Married a Monster from Outer Space, aliens pose as human women's husbands in an attempt to mate and breed. And far too many aliens resort to mind control (as in Breeders or other forms of rape to mingle their DNA with ours.
But some aliens require a little extra wooing. Jake Sully has to get himself a whole new body, learn a new language, and prove himself as a hunter before he can have braid-tentacle sex with Neytiri in Avatar. There's nothing quite as sexy as learning to twist your tongue to form new syllables (although hunting prowess doesn't hurt, either).
And you have to recognize that no matter how much you may want them, some aliens just won't have sex with a human. In James Tiptree Jr.'s "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side," humans become obsessed with the aliens of all stripes. The aliens, on the other hand, have about as much interest in us as we have in animals, which more or less drives humans mad. Before you go enslaving yourself to some defective Cu'ushbar, consider whether it might be better to settle down with a nice human partner. Sure, the sex may be routine, but at least you'll be having sex.
Make Sure All Partners Are Willing
Consent is a tricky enough thing when all partners are members of the same species. It gets even more complicated when you come from different planets — and have different ideas about sex. Remind your extraterrestrial partner that no means no, and that your relationship will be hotter with clear consent. Just look at Yivo, the living planet from Futurama's Beast with a Billion Backs. Yivo may get off on forcing everyone on Earth to "love the tentacle," but shkle finds shkler relationship with everyone much more fulfilling when shkle confesses shkler's feelings directly, and every non-robotic creature on Earth agrees to willingly participate in Yivo's perpetual tentacle sex orgy.
Also, Star Trek's Orion slave girls? Not consensual. Also, as we learned in Enterprise, a generally bad idea. Non-slave Orions are fine, of course, provided you remember their names in the morning.
Remember, just because what you happen to get off on isn't what your partner considers sex, that doesn't mean it doesn't require consent. Take Pat Cadigan's story "Roadside Rescue," in which an alien extracts a human's orgasm-inducing frustration in range in exchange for a little roadside assistance. If you're going to give someone the emotional equivalent of a hummer just to get a tow, you should know about it upfront.
Another thing to bear in mind: because not every species keeps their erogenous zones in the same place, acts that might seem ordinary to humans may be tantamount to molestation on the wrong species. Star Trek's Vulcans, for example, kiss by touching fingertips, while Farscape's Delvians get off on ionic radiation. Conehead sex involves playing ringtoss with each other's heads as the targets. Placing your hand on the lower back of one of Mass Effect's asari will earn you either a gasp of delight or a slap in the face — although the same is true for many humans as well.
Be Open to New Experiences
While you might envision your alien sexual experience as skin on reptilian skin, there are plenty of alternate sexual scenarios that are just as fun — if not more so. If Deep Space Nine teaches us anything, it's that having sex with your shapeshifting boyfriend in his solid form is good, but doing it in his liquid form is mind-blowing craziness. Some species find telepathic sex more enjoyable than the physical thing. Don't let your preconceived notions of sexual intimacy keep you from a Cocoon sexy energy pool party.
Some alien sexual acts will simply never excite humans, however. Having pollinating sex with Quark's ficus looks promisingly silly, but it would be torture waiting around for the bee.
Watch Out for Injuries
Remember that sexual incompatibility thing? Sometimes it's fun, but other times it's a recipe for disaster. New experiences are all well and good, but you want to live to screw another day. You don't want to get in bed with your handsome Clark Kent only to have your head blown off in a spunk geyser, as in Larry Niven's speculative sex essay "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex." And just because a sex act isn't fatal doesn't mean it might not be debilitating. That sexually depressing James Tiptree story mentions that while sex with two Sirians is the ultimate physical experience for a human woman, it also leaves her scarred and crippled.
But just because sexual incompatibility is dangerous, that danger isn't necessarily insurmountable. Humans can have relations with immune-compromised Quarians with the help of precautionary sterilization and antibiotics to minimize the chance of Quarian infection. And if you decide on an interspecies relationship with one of Alien Nation's Tenctonese, there are helpful Newcomer sex clinics to minimize sexidents.
Consider Marital Aids
Less hazardous sexual incompatibilities can sometimes be resolved with mechanical aids. There's no shame in donning a device to make your partner's experience more pleasurable. Sex between human males and the alien Pashi in Rick Wilber's "War Bride" requires a prosthetic lengthener. (It also requires becoming a comfort person, but that's a whole other kettle of nebulously consensual fish.) Be warned, though, that prototype sex toys can be a bit buggy — like Garry Shandling's artificial penis in What Planet Are You From?, which hums in the proximity of beautiful women (prompting at least one prospective partner to suggest that it simply doesn't know the words).
You wouldn't think it, given the species barrier, but humans and aliens are incredibly fertile when put together. In fact, the sex doesn't even have to be physical for pregnancy to occur; Enterprise's Trip Tucker gets knocked up by his Xyrillian fling after a few bouts of rock-aided telepathy. And those alien pregnancies can be tricky. When Alien xenomorphs aren't bursting their way out of your chest, alien mamas-to-be are planning to rip you open to release their brood (as nearly happened to Torchwood's Gwen Cooper). And then there's what happens to that poor lady in Species 2. Of course, sometimes they'll just give you evil children, as in John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos.
Males and females can both become pregnant, so watch out. In addition to Commander Tucker, there's Futurama's Kif, who got pregnant when Leela touched his naked hand. No glove, no getting near aliens in love.
Extraterrestrial STDs are a concern, but there are normal biological reactions to consider as well. When Voyager's Harry Kim heats up the sheets with a Varro, he triggers a biochemical reaction that can be painful — even fatal — to break.
Just make sure that your safe sex measures are safe for both partners. You don't want to end up killing your Superman with a kryptonite condom.
Make Sure Your Partner Doesn't Want to Kill You Afterward
As with consent, this is a conversation you should have with your alien partner upfront. Some extraterrestrials take a praying mantis approach to mating: first there is sexytime, then there is killing and the possible chomping of head-bones. Some aliens will be upfront about their plans to enact Futurama's Death by Snoo-Snoo (prisoner rape is still wrong, folks, no matter how much Zapp and Fry seem to enjoy it), but others won't get that murderous gleam in their eyes until after the deed is done. Species' half-alien invader Sil, for example, doesn't see much point in keeping her partners around once she's snagged their DNA, nor does the alien Chet nearly beds in the Weird Science TV series. Babylon 5's Arnassians will go so far as to feast on their post-coital mate. And plenty of aliens will kill you in the act, especially ones that are using humans as their sexual surrogates. The Torchwood episode "Day One," The Outer Limits episode "Caught in the Act," and the film Liquid Sky all feature aliens who use human sex to kill, while the X-Files episode "Gender Bender" stars an alien Kindred who does the deed herself (and then himself and then herself again), taking out each human partner as she (and then he and then she again) goes along.
Humans aren't exactly innocent on this front ourselves. In Lifeforce, Col. Tom Carlsen attempts to destroy a beautiful alien vampire by impaling them both mid-coitus, planning to go out with a thud and a bang at the same time.
Remember, Not Everyone will Accept Your New Sexual Partner
While your more open-minded friends may be more accepting of your union, you'll have to accept that, like Babylon 5's Sheridan and Delenn, you may have to deal with cold stares of disapproval. Take this as an opportunity to educate your loved ones about the joys of alien sex. After all, in Harlan Ellison's "How's the Night Life on Cissalada?" everyone thinks the terrific little persons from Cissalada are disgusting, until they experience sex with a terrific little person of their own.