A rarity or a creative opportunity?

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stevenf
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A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby stevenf » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:05 pm UTC

I find it very difficult to take sex in books seriously. So often you come across passages that are simply gratuitously shoe-horned into the text - you can almost hear the publisher wheedling with the author to make the book more 'commercial'. The result is always predictable - a tour of the smuttier annexes of the author's mind or ludicrously improbable excesses written in purple prose. Transgression, force, distress, jeopardy, rape - are all grist to the mill.

Literature without sex would lack verisimilitude. Art can reflect life and sex can be transcendent, positive, life affirming, happy, joyful, pleasureable, consensual, actively desired by both (all) parties, conventional or not, warm, loving, relaxing, serene, tranquil... so many positive attributes that do not appear in literature.

Why do authors fail us all so badly in this area?

Or have I missed some important works?

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TheAmazingRando
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:39 pm UTC

I don't think it's possible to write good sex in serious, non-erotic literature. Either it comes out too airy and magical, too strict and clinical, too physical and vulgar, or too sensational and erotic. Even authors that I've otherwise adored have failed in this area, because there are too many cultural associations with just about every way of speaking about sex.

EmptySet
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby EmptySet » Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:09 pm UTC

I think it's because authors have difficulty striking a balance between describing the act of sex and the emotions involved. Too much one way makes it crude and vulgar, while too much the other makes it seems airy or hopelessly melodramatic. Also, sleeping with someone is often an important moment for a character and writers may sometimes feel compelled to write it up more than is really needed, in an attempt to make sure it's as spectacular as that scene in the last chapter. You know, the one where the hero slew 60 orcs with his bare hands while riding the Black Bicycle of Bel-Shammharoth over the Tightrope of Terror.

vellumwing
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby vellumwing » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:11 am UTC

In American Gods, a novel by Neil Gaiman, the main character Shadow makes love to the god Bast...I felt that Gaiman pulled it off successfully because it was wildly erotic while at the same time being relevant and meaningful. Gregory Maguire makes the moments when Fiyero and Elphaba make love both poignant and erotic. I can't really think of any other sexual scenes in books that were pulled off as successfully as in those books off the top of my head.

EmptySet
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby EmptySet » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:40 pm UTC

Gaiman is fairly good with this, perhaps because he sometimes writes erotic fiction.

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Narsil
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby Narsil » Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:33 am UTC

Granted, I have a man crush on Gaiman, but I feel that asking for a link to this would cross some sort of line.

Not that this should stop you from posting a link or anything.
Spoiler:
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*sees Narsil's sig*
Oh... that.

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pollywog
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby pollywog » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:46 am UTC

I once read a book, and the only thing I can remember about about it was that one chapter was called "Triad" and only involved a threeway. I hate sex in my fantasy. It should only be used if it's going to contribute to the plot.

For the same reason I can't stand Jean M. Auel.
suffer-cait wrote:hey, guys?
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EmptySet
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby EmptySet » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:16 am UTC

Narsil wrote:Granted, I have a man crush on Gaiman, but I feel that asking for a link to this would cross some sort of line.

Not that this should stop you from posting a link or anything.


The compilations Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors both include a couple of erotic short stories, which is the only place I've run across them.

darwinwins
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby darwinwins » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:25 am UTC

haruki muarkami is excellent at writing smut scenes.
"if you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. that's the world of hicks and slobs. " - haruki murakami

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steewi
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby steewi » Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:10 am UTC

Talyn by Holly Lisle has some of the more disturbing sex I've read in fantasy, as does Anne Bishop's Blood trilogy.

Generally sex is best left out of fantasy unless it's expounded properly. Jamming it in there is a sign that it's the sort of fantasy that's romance for people who are too embarrassed to read romance.

I'm reading American Gods at the moment. It has some pretty damned erotic sex in there, in different combinations. I haven't read the abovementioned scene yet. Let's hope it's not while I'm on the bus. That could be embarrassing.

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TheAmazingRando
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Re: A rarity or a creative opportunity?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 10, 2008 1:36 am UTC

Gaiman writes some poor sex scenes, in my opinion, but I think the sex in Snow, Glass, Apples, is actually done quite well compared to how it's meant to fit into the story. Luckily, it's available online here.


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