Alien Sex!

Recently I ran across a post from Star Trek novel author David Mack in which he publicly responds to a letter from a fan who complained about a lesbian relationship between a Vulcan and a Kilingon.

Now, I’ll admit that my understanding of the Star Trek canon begins and ends with the original series that was aired when I was a child.  I never watched any of the subsequent series (I tried The Next Generation, but there were no characters that I liked and several that I actively loathed.) I will stay in the same room with most of the movies if someone I know is watching them, and I actually liked the J J Abrams reboots. I have only read one of the novels that I recall, a rather humorous one called How Much For Just The Planet. 

Consequently, I am no authority on what Vulcans may be today.  I know that shared universes, in particular, experience some drift from a creator’s original concept.  My understanding of Vulcan sexuality is based on the original series episode “Amok Time“, written by the incomparable Theodore Sturgeon.

In that episode it is revealed that Vulcans have a seven year mating cycle.  During the majority of this time they are essentially asexual.  When they go into the fertile section of their cycle they become overwhelmed by hormones and grow aggressive and irrational. Because of the Vulcan culture’s strong reverence for reason above emotion the Vulcans see this bowing to biological necessity as shameful.

Now that is alien. That is entirely different way of processing the physiological imperative to propagate the species.  Sexuality is ontologically irrational, so the Vulcan species has learned to quarantine it,  to provide a time and place for pure irrationality to run (as it were) amok, without influencing the majority of their lives.

It explains, for example, the awkward relationship between Nurse Chapel and Mr. Spock–he knows that she has some sort of physical feelings for him, but is unable to acknowledge them even to the extent of repulsing them.

As I say, this concept of Vulcans may have changed.  There have been dozens of movies, probably hundreds of books, several TV shows set in the Star Trek universe and I am ignorant of the overwhelming majority of them.

If they have, though, the Star Trek universe has contracted, not expanded. I haven’t read the novel in question (nor am I likely to). David Mack seems to have missed the entire point of the fan’s objection, and uses the letter to launch into a rant about people who object to homosexuality.  That’s not my objection to the concept, and I don’t think it was the objection of the fan who wrote that letter.  If David Mack wants to write about human women having an affair in the Star Trek universe I don’t see any problem.

What I have a problem with is taking a character type that was originally written to have a truly inhuman mental outlook and writing her as if she is just another human being.  If you’re going to do that, why bother making the character inhuman at all?

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Alien Sex!

  1. LindaGHill says:

    Agreed. Rule number one for any author who wants plausibility is stay true to the character! Even if it means the story doesn’t go where the author wants it to.

  2. Pingback: Alien Sex II: The World, The Flesh, and The Devil | mishaburnett

  3. Ryan M. Church says:

    The fan is actually incorrect in her view of Vulcan sexuality. It is only the males that have the Pon Farr Cycle not the Males. The female Vulcans are hot to trot any old time. It is only logic which keeps them celibate for so long. A Vulcan woman who’s lover is not Vulcan is not biologically restricted as the males. As far as rules set in a fictional universe. You can change them by expanding them rather than breaking them. And when you do you better explain the logic as to how the rule can be broken in that case and yet keeps the rule intact some way.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Okay, now that expands the original concept without contradicting it. It would make for some interesting relationships, and it would make sense for Vulcan females to be open to recreational sex with other females–the males would only be available infrequently. As I said, I’m not familiar with the universe after the first series.

      • Ryan M. Church says:

        It also makes an interesting social commentary if you superimpose those concepts on issues of human sexuality.

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