thierstein.net
Home Reviews Shorts Search

Here's a trick question: as a male (and, presumably, female, too, but I can't speak for that side) SF fan, would you walk past a book called 'Alien Sex' without picking up for a look? Thought so.

The original title for this collection of stories was 'Off limits: Sex and the Alien', which would have been much more fitting than the pulpy title the publisher replaced it with. Especially, as the book points out, 'Any sex beyond masturbation is an excursion into Alien territory', anyway.

This is a selection of stories around sex, eroticism, desire, procreation and some things which are rather hard to pigeonhole. These were collected by Ellen during her time as editor for OMNI – a good number of the stories included in this volume she turned down for the magazine for being too raunchy.
Besides the Larry Niven classic 'Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex', discussing the sexuality (or, rather, sexual impossibilities and frustrations) of Clark Ken/Superman, there is very little here in terms of 'well known' authors (or am I just not well-read enough?). Most of the stories appear to have been selected on topic and merit; and well chosen they were indeed!

The spectrum of topics is wide – the book kicks off with a story on Bestiality (and, besides this story, what else is sex with Aliens anyway, if you think of it?), goes through Pedophilia, some of the more 'standard' tropes of Human/Alien interaction into very strange things which are decided alien indeed. Each story is accompanied by a short history of its publication (or not), and a few words from the author around the circumstances of conception, so to say, which adds another, very valuable layer to the collection.

Make no mistake, this is not a book about titillation (oh, I'm sure, someone somewhere will). Some of the stories are quite disturbing in my opinion, more so because this is well written material nearly across the board, and not pulp. There are two follow-up volume available, this time called Off Limit: Tales of Alien Sex. Both of them. Just to confuse matters…

Read with an open mind, and be ready and willing to be provoked, disturbed and offended. After all, there's no topic like sex to stir up emotions and hormones!

Title: Alien Sex
Subtitle: 14 Tales by the Masters of Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy
Series: Alien Sex
Series Number: 1
Author: Ellen Datlow (editor)
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  Grafton/Harper Collins
Publication Date: 1991
Review Date: 081024
ISBN: 0586211780
Price: UKP 3.99
Pages: 333
Format: Paperback
Topic: SF
Topic: Sex

More Ellen Datlow


Andy Weir - The Martian

 

Doris Lessing – The Sirian Experiments

 

Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner

 

Ian Sales – Adrift on the Sea of Rains

 

Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow

 

Somtow Sucharitkul - The Throne of Madness

 

Iain Sinclair - Radon Daughters

 

Peter Watts - Blindsight

 

Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me

 

Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives

 

Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanishers’ Palace

 

S.P. Somtow – I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City

 

Somtow Sucharitul – Starship & Haiku

 

Lavie Tidhar - Central Station

 

Peter Watts – Maelstrom

thierstein.net, Powered by Mambo!; free resources by SiteGround