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Why so little sex in epic fantasy and space opera?

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Chasing the Horizon

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We must be reading different fantasies and space operas, lol. Most of what I've read lately have had a lot of sex (a few of which left me cringing and wishing they'd left it out because they clearly had no clue how to write it, but still).
 

GiantRampagingPencil

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The things I've read lately: The Dresden Files, The Codex Alera, The Iron Druid Chronicles, The Mistborn Trilogy, a couple of horrible horror novels (half-read), some of Weber's Honor Harrington books. Some sex in Butcher's work--though it's pretty perfunctory.
 

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Traditionaly epic fantasy probably didn't have it due to it being a more taboo subject previously. That is changing if not so quickly as in other genres.
 

jjdebenedictis

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Heh, heh. Read The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan. There are only two sex scenes, but they're nice and visceral. You may need brain bleach afterward.

Great book, though. You need to be able to handle viscerally-described violence also.
 

Kerosene

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Epic fantasy showcases the fantasy aspect, so there is very little there.

The last book I read with sex was The Night Angel trilogy, which was quite sexual in some cases.

But sex in space sounds entertaining. :D



I see something odd: When there is a book that opens ups sex, it's sexual. Sound dumb, I know. But the writer seems sex crazy at times.

Other books, that don't go into sex just skip over the sexual content and any content that might lead to sex.
 

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There's plenty of sex in epic fantasy and space operas, though probably it was more common in the 70s and 80s. Most of it is/was really bad.
 

GiantRampagingPencil

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In my WIP the male MC unknowingly sleeps with his best friend. (He was too drunk to remember it.) The wrinkle is that she is an alien. When he finally learns what happens, he has all kinds of thoughts that I think are perfectly natural given the situation, but are more frank than your usual Star Trek-style fare. How did they manage it? Does she even have a vagina? Stuff like that.

He goes on a date with another woman (the romantic threat) and touches his first breast. A memorable occasion for a young man, I think. But, again, different.

The MC's friend muses on what it would be like to plough the female MC's field.

All things that, at least to me, are perfectly natural, but are not what I'm used to seeing in similar works.
 

rwm4768

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For some authors, it might be the fact that sex isn't all that important to the story. People who want sex will read erotica or other sultry romances. Fantasy readers aren't necessarily looking for that. Personally, I find sex a bit of a turn off in a book. I'm okay with characters having sex, but I don't need a blow by blow description. It's just not that interesting to me.
 

Chasing the Horizon

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The last book I read with sex was The Night Angel trilogy, which was quite sexual in some cases.
I read that recently. Quite good. My favorite space opera writer is Peter Hamilton and he's not shy about sex or sexuality either.

As others have said, the usual reason for not having sex in epic fantasy is because it's often irrelevant to the plot. It always seems to wind up being relevant to my plots, though, lol.
 

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Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey. That was Epic High-ish fantasy. LOTS of sex.

Anne McCaffrey. That was epic since the world was at stake. Epic Science Fantasy. Sex every time the dragons went out to mate. Also her psychic series and her brain ship series had a fair share of sex in it. (Played out like Space Opera at times) That was pre-2005, BTW.

Mercedes Lackey can't remember a book without sex mentioned. High and Epic Fantasy. Some was a bit more explicit than others. Pre 2005

Marion Zimmer Bradley. Low Epic Fantasy. A bunch of her Druid-type stories had sex. Pre 2005

Morgan Llewellyn. She has hot sex scenes oddly usually from a male PoV. Epic Historical Fantasy. Also pre 2005.

George RR Martin. Epic Fantasy. The world is at stake with the ice thing coming and no one is really paying attention to it. Lots of sex. That's one of the complaints.

Winter of Fire by Sheryl Jordan. Epic Fantasy. Had at least one sex scene that was bordering on explicit.

Can't remember, but didn't Jane Yolen's Great Alta series have a sex scene? I don't remember if it was hardcore or mild. I think it was mild. That was definitely Epic Fantasy since the world came into danger.

Oh and most books on Guinevere as the main character have sex of the explicit kind in them. Sometimes they are Epic, too.

L.E. Modesitt had a few sex scenes--definitely epic, but they were pretty tame. (Man, BTW)

There is sex in the Star Wars BOOKS but most of it is tame.

Books by women *tend* to get into relationships more, so will have more romance and human relationships in general, so they *tend* to have more sex.
 
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Chasing the Horizon

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Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey. That was Epic High-ish fantasy. LOTS of sex.
I keep hearing about these books. Think they need to head to the top of my TBR list.

Marion Zimmer Bradley. Low Epic Fantasy. A bunch of her Druid-type stories had sex. Pre 2005
She also had at least one fairly explicit lesbian sex scene in one of her books. I remember it vividly because I was about 7 when I read it and had no idea two women could do that, lol.

George RR Martin. Epic Fantasy. The world is at stake with the ice thing coming and no one is really paying attention to it. Lots of sex. That's one of the complaints.
It's odd, but I don't remember ASOIF being that explicit. I remember it being more like this underlying intense sexuality running through everything, rather than really detailed scenes. Or maybe my brain was just too overwhelmed with masses of characters and plots to register it.
 

Roxxsmom

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Well, the master of high Fantasy, JRR Tolkien, had no sex in LoTR at all. Not even implied. And the early masters of space opera Sci Fi (Heinlein etc.) were often writing for younger readers, at least early on. And in the middle part of the 20th century, there was a general prudishness about sex (not to mention a near invisibility of women in most of the stories, so...) Maybe that set the tone for the genres.

But some of the more modern writers in the genre have relationships in their stories that are clearly sexual and where sex is strongly implied, even shown in some cases (Lynn Flewelling, Mercedes Lackey, Robin Hobb, Brent Weeks, George RR Martin, Glenda Larke, even Anne McCaffrey are some of the ones I've read that do. I haven't read as much sci fi lately, though I remember some of CJ Cherryh's books had strongly implied sex in them at least), though it usually isn't super graphic. Sometimes the details sort of stop when the couple hops in the sack all hot and bothered and the author leaves the culmination of the act to the reader's imagination. I always assumed it was a publisher thing.

[edit] And I agree with the previous poster about ASOIF. Lots of sexual tension and the occasional use of graphic language, but the actual act itself is described in a fairly perfunctory manner.

But that's just a guess, and maybe it's been changing. Maybe it's the authors' preferences. I don't mind sex being a bit more graphic than is traditional, as long as it's written halfway well, but I don't mind the details being left to the imagination either. I like there to be romantic subplots and such in stories if they are done well. It's human nature to be attracted to one another and to fall in love, even when you are trying to save the world. Romantic and sexual tension adds an extra dimension to stories, raises the stakes for the protagonists and makes the characters more believable and relatable, imo.
 
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Anninyn

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Loads of sex in the stuff I've read. I think if it's been written in the last ten-twenty years or so it's going to have more sex in it, sometimes to the detriment of the story.

Me, I try to avoid putting stuff in that's not relevant to character or story, and often that means no sex. Sometimes it means lots. If the story doesn't need sex, it shouldn't have it, same as if it doesn't need a three-legged green Hypervore, it shouldn't have that, either.
 

astrodragon

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I find it ironic. We are always being told, lectured, only write what is important to the story. Yet probably 99% of the sex scenes in F&SF are unimportant to the story(or at least the only thing important is that two characters are lovers, not how they go about it).
 

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Was waiting for someone to mention LOTR.

LOTR was intended as a mythology. If you read the Norse and Old English myths, they're not filled with sex scenes. Hence there's none in LOTR.
 

sciencewarrior

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This was one of the things discussed in that Geek & Sundry chat with Pat Rothfuss and Urban Fantasy authors linked in the UF sub-forum. Pat received a lot of complaints for including sex in his second Kingkiller Chronicles book. Nobody complained about the graphic violence, though.

Many parents know fantasy from Tolkien, Robert Jordan, C.S. Lewis. The most you get from one of those is a hug and a kiss. SF was a bit more provocative, but still "kid-safe." Many grew up with it, before YA was a thing, and they are caught by surprise when they see sex in a modern SF/F book.
 

Amadan

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This was one of the things discussed in that Geek & Sundry chat with Pat Rothfuss and Urban Fantasy authors linked in the UF sub-forum. Pat received a lot of complaints for including sex in his second Kingkiller Chronicles book. Nobody complained about the graphic violence, though.


The sex in Wise Man's Fear wasn't very explicit. The complaints were more along the lines of "A fifteen-year-old virgin seduces a fairy sex goddess R U SERIOUS Patrick Rothfuss?"
 

Mr Flibble

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I'm trying to think of the last SFF book I read that DIDN'T have any sex in it (in some form - graphicness obviously varies).

...


...


Still thinking.

Oh, wait, KJ Parker's Sharps. No, wait, that did have a bit of sex in it.

...

...

Coming up fairly blank here.

If the story requires it (for whatever reason) then put it in. If not, leave it out. If you do insert it, you don't have to be graphic, or you can be. It'll depend on you, the writer, and on the story.

ETA: As for LOTR - well, it WAS published rather a long time ago. You might be better off thinking about/reading more recent stuff.
 

sciencewarrior

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The sex in Wise Man's Fear wasn't very explicit. The complaints were more along the lines of "A fifteen-year-old virgin seduces a fairy sex goddess R U SERIOUS Patrick Rothfuss?"

Ah, thanks. I'm still reading Name of the Wind. I can see why they wouldn't consider Kvothe a good role model, though. :D
 
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