Sexual Repression Is Science Fiction's Secret Hyperdrive Fuel

Illustration for article titled Sexual Repression Is Science Fiction's Secret Hyperdrive Fuel

Richard K. Morgan (author of Altered Carbon) did an interview with the StarShipSofa podcast, and it's pretty thought-provoking stuff. He explains why trying to write short stories before you write novels may be a waste of time, why noir SF has made a comeback, and why he doesn't mind being called a pornographer.


Commenters on Amazon often decry the sexual content in Morgan's future-noir books. But Morgan says sexuality is a key part of the noir recipe, and you can't leave it out or noir won't even make sense. And he's struck by the fact that so much of science fiction is full of repressed sexuality, that's front and center but never acknowledged. Says Morgan:

I do get comments on it, especially from American readers... Readers will say, "Oh, I really do like these books, but I don't like the way Morgan had to go off into semi-porn. That's not how I get my jollies." My response to that is always, "Oh right, so you get your jollies from watching your characters blow each other's heads off with high explosive rounds, or punch each other into a bloody pulp. That's you get off, but you don't get off on somebody having oral sex."...

And by and large, leaving aside the science fictional effects and exotic drugs and such, the sex that I write is the sex that I've had. I'm not trying to go overboard, but the sex is mostly based on my own experience with various interesting technological and chemical upgrades, if you like.

The whole interview is well worth listening to. It's over here. [StarShipSofa]


Making a perhaps unjustified assumption that many of those commenting are American, I'd say that it fits. Our culture as it stands now is (compared to say Western Europe) more accepting of violence and less of sexual content. TV shows and movies that would have explicit material warnings in the US are far more widespread in much of Europe, while many of the violent scenes in our movies and video games are banned over there. (Yes, I've lived in both). It's not a judgment one way or the other, merely an existing difference between what two cultures consider "moral". That said, if people are offended by what's in Richard Morgan's (excellent) novels, they probably don't want to get anywhere near the "kinky" books listed on io9 just recently.