Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 8
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Kerry, Stephen Craig 2019. Australian Queer Science Fiction Fans. Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 66, Issue. 1, p. 100.

    Bucknor, Michael A. 2018. Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature. p. 137.

    Beynon, John and Benwell, Bethan 2015. The International Encyclopedia of Communication. p. 1.

    Bardzell, Jeffrey and Bardzell, Shaowen 2015. Humanistic HCI. Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics, Vol. 8, Issue. 4, p. 1.

    Beynon, John and Benwell, Bethan 2015. The International Encyclopedia of Communication.

    Bardzell, Jeffrey and Bardzell, Shaowen 2014. “A great and troubling beauty”: cognitive speculation and ubiquitous computing. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 18, Issue. 4, p. 779.

    Byrne, Deirdre and Levey, David 2013. Memory as a Distorting and Refracting Mirror in Short Science Fiction by Vandana Singh and Kathleen Anne Goonan. English Studies in Africa, Vol. 56, Issue. 2, p. 60.

    KERRY, STEPHEN 2009. “There's Genderqueers on the Starboard Bow”: The Pregnant Male inStar Trek. The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 42, Issue. 4, p. 699.

  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: May 2006

10 - Science fiction and queer theory

from Part 2 - Critical approaches

Axiom 1: People are different from each other.

It is astonishing how few respectable conceptual tools we have for dealing with this self-evident fact. A tiny number of inconceivably coarse axes of categorization have been painstakingly inscribed in current critical and political thought: gender, race, class, nationality, sexual orientation are pretty much the available distinctions.

(Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Epistemology of the Closet)

‘We have to hide,’ the other said gently. ‘You still kill anything that’s . . . different’.

(Theodore Sturgeon, ‘The Sex Opposite’)

Science fiction and the idea of sexuality

Knowing sf’s potential for using the future to explore contemporary reality and its alternatives, one might think the genre ideal for the examination of alternative sexualities. Critics of sf have generally agreed that science fiction is a ‘literature of ideas’. Indeed, for many people, it is the ideational content of sf that is its primary characteristic. Sexuality is also an idea. In this sense, one might well expect to find an intrinsic compatibility between sf as a genre and the exploration of human sexuality. For many people, however, sexuality – and particularly heterosexuality – can be envisioned only within the category of the ‘natural’. To these people, sexuality is quite specifically not an idea; it is the very reverse of the ideational – instinctive, sensate, animalistic. It is at once both ‘common sense’, as in the apparent logic of procreative sex, and unthinkable, since even apparently procreative sex calls into play emotions, positions, actions and desires whose potential for perversity, even if it is merely the perversity of pleasure, are too frightening to contemplate. And yet, even for these people, sex is an idea because it is, after all, an ideology and one which contemporary Western societies have tried very hard indeed both to propagate and to control.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction
  • Online ISBN: 9780511998805
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *