Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Superhero sex

Years ago, science fiction author Larry Niven wrote an essay titled "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex." As you might gather from the title, it was a serious, logical, and rational treatise on how Lois Lane would have almost instantly died during the act of sex, if not foreplay.

Science fiction fans found this piece to be absolutely hysterical, while comic book fans rolled their eyes and ignored the sniggering (and anyone not in either category assumed this was why neither set of fans dated much, if at all, because back then, girls were rarely found in either place). Eventually, that particular work was absorbed into the philosophies of the comic book genre, and some works actually use it in their worldbuilding, while others don't. If you've watched the TV show Smallville, you'll have noticed an unspoken reference to the Niven piece; if you know the series, you'll know what I'm referring to. There's a new author from Ellora's Cave, Carol Strickland, who has a book coming out who's worked around it, too, and that makes sense since she hails from comic books.
Since then, the idea of superhero sex has grown and spread (and add inyour own metaphor here). Some authors take into account the Niven hypothesis, while others don't. (For that matter, some are probably not aware of the Niven essay, so there's a good reason they're ignoring it.)
My own take on the superhero theme, INTRODUCING SONIKA, was easy when it came to sex: they're both human, but Sonika herself has something else mixed in there, considering she can do things beyond that of normal man (and woman, yeah, yeah). But I'm working on a sequel, in which one of the characters is fire itself. So what the heck am I going to do when it comes time for the character to have sex, with a human, yet? Water?
But then she's not quite homo sapiens herself anymore. She's homo superior, but still nothing in the league of the guy. If I were to take the Niven hypothesis seriously (as seriously as you can take the entire subject, that is), I would have to start theorizing about the physiological aspects of someone with the powers of a sun in the act of doing the hootchie-cootchie with someone who can summon the force of a tornado. (At least sort of like a tornado. It's a work in progress.) What would be the result? Solar flares? Solar winds?
And then there's the other guy in the equation...
Superheroes and sex: fun to speculate about, a real challenge to write about!


Sally Painter said...

Hey Ellis! Welcome to the Hussies Blog!

I love Smallville and I recall the whole Clark and Lana no sex part but then he turned around and had sex with what's her name and I believe the first time he and Lana did the nasty, she was temporarily superhuman. I can see the thought process for the worldbuilding, but have to wonder the real reason for including it. Could have been the times and the social thoughts on unmarried sex? Lots to think about.

Thank you for joining us today! Your book sounds really great! I'll have to dash over to EC for it!

EilisFlynn said...

Hi, Sally! The nice thing about an enduring superhero is that he changes with the times, so definitely sex with Superman changes with the times. Or the lack of sex with ol' Supes, that is! But he's always good and godlike, no matter if you're looking at Superman from 1939 or 2008.

Dash over to Cerridwen, actually! Now I have to dash over to watch those videos from RT -- such MUSCLES! nUM!