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Sex in science fiction

Modern science fiction frequently involves themes of sex, gender and sexuality. This was not always so. During the 1930s and 40s "golden age" of science fiction it was unusual to find males and females mentioned in the same paragraph, let alone having sex.

In spite of this, book covers for pulp science fiction often featured scantily clad women, often with guns or being menaced by aliens. In some ways, little has changed: many science fiction book covers still feature images of sexy women by artists such as Boris Vallejo[?] and Frank Frazetta[?], although the images are perhaps somewhat less exploitative than before.

The New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s reflected its times by attempting to break earlier taboos about what could and could not be the subject of science fiction. The men's magazine Playboy published regular serious science fiction stories throughout this period, by both male and female authors, offering them significantly more scope than some other publications.

Two different themes emerged: one trying to explore the boundaries of what "sex" could mean in a world of altered humanity and reality, and another of exploring the position of women in science fiction and feminist issues in what had been traditionally a form of fiction written primarily by and for men.

Significant uses of sexual themes in serious science fiction include:

Some of the themes explored include:

A number of works of mainstream erotica, including the Gor novels by John Norman, have also used the science fiction format. There is now a separate sub-genre of science fiction erotica[?] that aims to integrate the two genres: writers in this genre include Cecilia Tan[?], whose small press Circlet Press[?] caters especially to adult science fiction fans.

In recent years there has been a growing BDSM awareness in the science fiction and fan community.

Numerous science fiction television series and science fiction films have used science fiction plots as an excuse to fit in gratuitous sexual or fetishistic content: one of the conventions of much filmed science fiction appears to be that the future will be peopled exclusively by attractive people wearing skin-tight clothing in shiny materials. Nevertheless, some science fiction-themed TV shows, such as Farscape, have been acclaimed for their handling of such themes. The series Lexx features sexual themes in almost every episode.

See also:

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