From contrivance to reality

So it’s been a while since my last proper blog post.  I haven’t been doing much writing lately, more sort of plotting.

So tonight I’m going to tackle the issue of gender balance in my stories.

Initially my thinking was that I wanted to have female characters in roles that are traditionally filled by males.  But that’s a bit contrived.  It’s all very well to say that I wish there were more female ‘knights riding to the rescue’ but what am I actually trying to accomplish by this?

So for a while now I’ve been trying to explain why most of the cast of Servant of the Siphen and the rest of the series is female.  Years, really.

Then as I was walking home tonight I found the missing piece of the puzzle.

Human life, when you think about it, is quite fragile.  It doesn’t take much to threaten our existence.  Never mind the aliens armed with electric death rays though, it’s the smallest most microscopic enemies that we need to worry about.  That’s right – alien germs.

The irony is that in reaching out to the stars, ensuring that human colonies will exist and multiply for some time to come, we may unwittingly bring about changes in our very own nature that will force us to adapt or die.

So in the stories, the basic premise is that during the great expansion, something or someone caused widescale alterations in the development of unborn children.  Perhaps it was aliens seeking to curb the human infestation on their dorrsteps, or maybe it was an accidental result of alien fauna interacting with human physiology.  I’m not telling… spoilers!

Whatever the cause, the result is that some humans in the 25th century will require hormone treatment to begin puberty, and may be unable to conceive children without medical intervention.  Naturally-born males will account for less than a percent of births.  The balance between female and male genders is going to shift quite considerably, and possibly a quarter of human colonists or Earth-born may consider themselves to be transgender.

That sort of brings me back to my original idea, which is that human life is so fragile.  When faced with this realisation that the way things used to be may never be so for thousands of years if at all, humans would have to embrace their altered reality.  Never again can they look down on or discriminate against people who do not fit into one of the binary genders.  There will be billions of brilliant humans who are capable of something just as wondrous as their distant ancestors who landed on the moon, and they cannot be scorned because of their differences.  The continued existence of humanity is at stake.

I would like to think that this story does not begin when humans arrive on other planets.  It begins today, with people like you or me.  We are the mentors of those who come after us, passing on our values to the next generation, and the next and the next and so on.  If what we do and believe and how we act towards those who are different helps future generations to overcome adversity, then we are never forgotten.  They will tell tales of us, much as we imagine and relate to their perilous and arduous journey to distant worlds.

The greatest strength of humans is to communicate ideas and to share knowledge and experiences.  By doing these things, we create a future in which humans are prepared, if not forewarned of the dangers it may face.

So it’s quite possible that some of the crew of the Orion, though they take female names and look feminine, don’t necessarily identify as female.  I haven’t made distinctions yet because as I said, this came to me tonight and I’m still thinking about it.  Does it make a difference to you if one of these leading ladies is transgender?

I’m not looking to score points, mind.  I’m telling a story, and sometimes that means explaining why things are the way they are, or even what that is.  If as a result it improves the human condition for those future generations, I won’t have been forgotten.


3 responses to “From contrivance to reality”

  1. Really interesting stuff. I don’t think playing with gender is about scoring points, really. It’s about using science fiction to explore a complete possible range of human experience.

    I’m currently working on a novella that plays with the idea of what happens when humans colonize planets whose indigenous life forms are ultimately deadly, thus altering perceptions of what is an appropriate life span, and what ethical and social issues arise around death and dying. I love how mutable humanity becomes in a science fictional context. p.s. I’m here via A to Z, and adding you to my blogroll. Hope to stop by again.

    Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

  2. Some interesting thoughts there and certainly something to think about. I love (and agree with) the idea of us being mentors for the future and I think tales like this will certainly go a long way towards educating the future. Further, the thought that discrimination based around gender (or anything else for that matter) has no place in this future world is wonderful. Makes me hope for the future.
    I’m looking forward to hearing more about this idea and I hope you continue to share your thoughts.

    • Thanks! I think it’s going to be interesting to work it into the early stages of the story through the characters.

      It’s something that I feel strongly about, and I believe it will help me draw in readers who are looking for a hopeful future concept. It’s going to probably lead to quite a few more blog posts as well. 🙂