Sex and sexuality in science fiction

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Sexuality in science fiction refers to the incorporation of sexual themes into science fiction or related genres. Such elements may include depictions of realistic sexual interactions in a science fictional setting, a character with an alternative sexuality as the protagonist, or exploration of the varieties of sexual experience that deviate from the conventional.

Science fiction and fantasy have traditionally been puritanical genres orientated toward a male readership; they can be more constrained than non-genre literature by their conventions of characterization and their effect on depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also gives the freedom to imagine societies different from real-life cultures, making SF an incisive tool to examine sexual bias and forcing the reader to reconsider his or her cultural assumptions.

Prior to the 1960s, explicit sexuality of any kind was not characteristic of genre speculative fiction. In the 1960s, science fiction and fantasy began to reflect the changes prompted by the civil rights movement and the emergence of a counterculture. New wave and Feminist SF authors imagined cultures a variety of gender models or atypical sexual relationships, such as group marriages or homosexual single-gendered societies, are the norm, and depictions of sex acts and alternative sexualities became commonplace.

There also exists science fiction erotica, which explores sexuality and the presentation of themes aimed at inducing arousal.


Critical analysis

As genres of popular literature, science fiction and fantasy often seem even more constrained than non-genre literature by their conventions of characterization and the effects that these conventions have on depictions of sexuality and gender.[1] Science fiction in particular has traditionally been a puritanical genre oriented toward a male readership.[2] Sex is often linked to disgust in SF and horror,[2] and plots based on sexual relationships have mainly been avoided in genre fantasy narratives.[3] On the other hand, science fiction and fantasy can also to give more freedom than do non-genre literatures to imagine alternatives to the default assumptions of heterosexuality and masculine superiority that permeate many cultures.[1]

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