|by Gustave Courtois|
A few years ago, I had the privilege of editing a new anthology series, Lace and Blade, from Norilana Books. The concept was a certain flavor of elegant, romantic sword and sorcery, witty and stylized, sensual yet with plenty of swashbuckling action (think The Scarlet Pimpernel with magic). Because we wanted to release the first volume for Valentine’s Day, I contacted a group of seasoned professional authors, people I could depend on to understand what I was looking for and to deliver top quality stories to deadline. For various reasons, the publisher wanted the second volume to be open submissions. If I'd had any idea what I was getting myself into, I would have refused. Insulated in the world of competent fantasy writers and readers who are versed in the grandeur of writers from J.R.R. Tolkien to Tanith Lee, I was ill-prepared for what mundanes think of when they hear “fantasy.”
Needless to say, when I talk about sexuality or eroticism or sensuality or gender issues in fantasy, I do not mean pornography. It seems that for far too many people, sexuality is such an emotionally difficult subject that instead of facing it honestly, discussing it openly, they shroud it in prurience and embarrassment, or else turn it into something salacious or forbidden. Yet just about every human being over the age of puberty has had sexual feelings (notice my delicate use of qualifiers). So if sexuality in fantasy does not mean “your most lascivious and pornographic imaginings, regardless of whether you’d really like to do these things, because how would you know what you enjoy if you’ve never been permitted to experiment,” what is the role of sexuality in fantasy? Does it even have one? Should we keep sex out of fantasy literature, restrict the love stories to a chaste kiss now and again, and keep the hero/ine’s mind firmly fixed on nobler causes?
|by Salvador Viniegra|
What are the attitudes and practices regarding sexuality in this culture? Is it permissive, repressive, or a combination? Is marriage live-long or fixed-term? Monogamous, polygamous, polyandrous? Do different cultures in your world treat love, sexuality, and marriage in the same way? (For example, how are sexual fidelity and jealousy regarded? Is marriage a personal or a business relationship? Who determines what is acceptable in sexual behavior? Have norms changed over time and if so, why? What are the social, moral or legal consequences of transgressions? Are there times, places, or partners for whom “anything goes”?
|by William Blake|
Sexuality has a special role in fantasy stories because of its universality (or near-universality) in human experience, and its power. It’s fairly common to use sexual energy as the basis for magic. In some systems, magicians create power by channeling the sexual energy either of themselves or of someone else, making sex a necessary part of magical use. But in other systems, sexual energy and magic are incompatible, leading to painful choices for characters and societies.