Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sex and Violence in Super Powered Fiction

Today I wanted to write something on the two big subjects of modern genre literature. I am of course talking about sex and violence, two factors that play a weird twisted pattern in modern English writing.

Most people pretty much consider it impossible to write super powered fiction without the second half of that equation, although not impossible. Big powers often imply slugfests between two super powered beings. But characters with powers could just use those powers for the common good. Or even their own self interest. Even with two or more characters with powers, no one says they should have to get into great big fights. Walter Mosley’s Blue Light fits the bill perfectly for this. While the book does not shy away from uncomfortable situations (including murder) it is not built around the kind of battle one expects when they know a story has super-powers.

Sex on the other hand often seems taboo in modern super powered fiction. Obviously most modern Marvel & DC superhero comics run on a strange system where they aim for a PG-13 style rating scheme for their titles. Rarely do they feature more than the hint of sex. Prose super powered fiction often follows this lead. I certainly do with my Lightweight series of serialized stories. Numerous other tales both large and small press seem to aim for that same level. But the history of the super powered prose space makes that a strange choice.

So much of super powered prose stems from George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. From the first book, authors like Lewis Shiner and Stephen Leigh introduced sexually explicit content into their tales. In many ways Wild Cards is the godfather of all super powered prose, yet still so many titles shy away from its lead. Meanwhile the ever-growing urban fantasy field often dives head-long into explicit storytelling.

I am by no means saying that anyone writing super powered prose should immediately add an explicit sex scene to their stories. But I do think that if we are acceptable to extremes of violence, we should also not be afraid of writing sex as well.

My web serial Walking Shadows has shown several of its leads in sexual situations and will continue to do so. The series was built around the concept of following the lives of young men and women with powers that do not want to be heroes. And when you right about young adults, sex will come into play.

Let’s not be afraid of it.

Today’s image is from issue two of Peter David & George Perez’s Sachs & Violens, simply because I enjoy name puns.

Reblogged from the classic site.

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