Alien Sex edited by Ellen Datlow

Another good anthology from Datlow.

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JPOC Rating

Eight out of ten. Well worth buying although, if you are squemish or prudish you will find plenty to offend you.

My review

As advertised, 19 tales on the theme of sex involving humans and aliens.

Sex is an important part of our lives. It is not so far fetched to believe that the same might be the case for at least some alien species. But, this area is not one that has featured widely in SF writings. Around half of the stories here are published for the first time in this collection.

This is not a collection of erotic writing, indeed it is more disturbing and sometimes funny than arousing.

Horror fiction has a much stronger tradition of covering sexual matters and some of the stories here wander along the boundary of the two genres. Particularly "The First Time" by K.W.Jeter. This gruesome story is not an easy read but it is also one of the strongest in the collection.

"All My Darling Daughters" by Connie Willis and Leigh Kennedy's "Her Furry Face" also dwell on aspects of the human condition that you wouldn't want to discuss with your mother. Nonetheless, they are good stories that use the "alien" setting to good effect.

The collection is not confined to such serious, or even disturbing material. There are some genuinely funny stories here too. Especially the classic "How's the Nightlife on Cissalda" by Harlan Ellison and "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" by Larry Niven.

Many of the stories deal with the theme of aliens as a sexual threat to humans. From lighthearted stories such as Pat Cadigan's "Roadside Rescue" to the macabre "Dancing Chickens" by Edward Bryant.

I'd rate about three quarters of the stories in here as being above agerage or better. A couple were rather weak and the book would have been better had they been left out but, overall, this is a good collection.

In Detail

Kennedy, Leigh: "Her Furry Face"
A scientist researching animal intelligence goes beyond the normal boundaries of the scientific method. 8/10

Wilber, Rick: "War Bride"
This is an uncomfortable story. Turning the tables, the war bride is the human male in a totally dependent relationship with an alien female. Interesting stuff. 6/10.

Ellison, Harlan: "How's the Nightlife on Cissalda?"
Laugh a minute tale about the fate of mankind when it encounters "The best fuck in the universe." 8/10

Baker, Scott: "The Jamesburg Incubus"
A mans dreams begin to have a strange effect on reality and of course, as they are a mans dreams... 6/10

Niven, Larry: "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex"
What might happen if Superman and Lois actually got it together? Jolly amusing. 6/10

Jeter, K.W.: "The First Time"
A rite of passage tale in which a boy becomes a man in a manner that is about as ghastly as anything I have ever read. I give this "more horror than SF" story 9/10.

Farmer, Philip Jose: "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod"
Oh dear. What was this about? In the author's own words: "If William Burroughs instead of Edgar Rice Burroughs had written the Tarzan novels..." Well indeed perhaps so but this drivel only gets one out of ten from me.

Tuttle, Lisa: "Husbands"
Do women need men and what would happen if they disappeared one day? Not one of the better stories here. 5/10.

McAllister, Bruce: "When the Fathers Go"
A man returns to his wife after travelling to distant stars and meeting aliens. But what is the truth of what he tells her and who, or what has he brought back with him? Not that good really. 5/10

Bryant, Edward: "Dancing Chickens"
A great story about aliens who treat humans as playthings and the butt of their cruelty. 8/10

Cadigan, Pat: "Roadside Rescue"
A very funny tale about a stranded motorist who is given assistance by an alien who wants more from him than he realises. 7/10

Ryman, Geoff: "Omnisexual"
The woman who was not real, the body that extrudes new life in myriad forms, the story that goes nowhere and tells nothing. Why do they bother. 1/10

Willis, Connie: "All My Darling Daughters"
A craze for an exotic pet sweeps a school but only the boys are interested in the pets and they are losing interest in the girls. A shocking tale that was not a comfortable read. 8/10

Matheson, Richard Christian: "Arousal"
A woman, away from home, sexually frustrated thinks that she has found what she desires. But she has found much more, perhaps more than she wants. 7/10

Shiner, Lewis: "Scales"
One woman's husband is stolen away by what appears to be another woman but in reality..... 7/10

Lannes, Roberta: "Saving the World at the New Moon Motel"
Late at night, a woman sits drinking coffee in a motel diner when in walks an alien and one thing leads to another. Amusing but I didn't laugh out loud. 6/10

Tiptree, James Jr: "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side"
People and aliens meet and sample each others delights or otherwise. The people lose. Of course, they would. Not bad really. 6/10

Roessner, Michaela: "Picture Planes"
A sort of poem thing in which a man captures something that might have been a little like an angel except that it wasn't. 6/10

Murphy, Pat: "Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates"
It's the end of the world. The bomb. It's always the bomb isn't it? An engineer, waiting to die creates robot life to replace men. Hmmm, not that good. 4/10