Sci-Fi Doesn’t Have to Be Dominated by Horny Bro Wizards
In a genre where supposedly Anything Goes, where the boundaries of narrative and potential reality are not only immaterial, but also intended to be shattered with pure acts of what-the-fuck, I’ve always been baffled by how 90 percent of science fiction works seem exactly the same—a glorified romance novel, unnecessarily set in a world where, like, computers can erase minds.
A LIST OF THINGS I NEVER UNDERSTOOD OR LIKED ABOUT SCIENCE FICTION
Why so much goddamn talking? The Earth is being pressed upon by black magnets piloted by a race of people made of lasers from the eyes of God, and here’s a four-page scene featuring two dudes having a conversation about who stole who’s Space Lamborghini. Dialogue is fucking stupid 90 percent of the time in the first place, but when written by someone with Asperger’s it becomes instant skimming material. Please stop.
Having a Premise
The worst thing about most science fiction is how the author gets an idea they like, and then that’s the book. Like, there’s an underwater city ruled by a blue cube that holds its citizens in eternal fear threatening to explode the glass walls that contain them if they don’t work tirelessly on building a machine gun powerful enough to kill the moon, but then people just run around trying to figure out a way to stop the cube’s cruel reign, and nothing interesting happens besides the idea on the back of the book. Call me a dick, but I don’t want one fun idea, I want 500.
Generally Shitty Writing
I imagine the thinking behind a lot of science fiction is that the ideas and conceits are so fantastic that it doesn’t matter how plain the writing is. I guess the crudity is supposed to be part of the appeal, but sometimes it’s nice to not feel like I could read one out of every 18 sentences and still get the same feel out of the book. Why can’t the language be as weird as the ideas?
VICE: What inspired you to write a story about a dog-fucking cop?
Sam Humphries: It came from a logical place. I used to read a blog called dolphinsex.org. It was written by a guy who claimed to have an ongoing love affair with a dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. Two things struck me: a) How do you go about having sexual intercourse with a dolphin? and b) Was this a two-way street—a physical and emotional relationship between two intelligent mammals?
Motorman, David Ohle’s 1972 debut, which we’re not even going to attempt to sum up here because you should just trust us and read it, is one of very few novels that can honestly be described as wholly original. None other than Gordon Lish deemed the book one of his favorites. But after its release, David completely vanished from the literary landscape, not publishing another novel for 32 years. Motorman promptly went out of print and until recently could only be obtained via photocopied bootlegs that were clandestinely distributed among a cult of devout followers. The below story is a hitherto unpublished investigation of the mutant anatomy of turtle boys, appropriately accompanied by photos of the dissection of a turtle.
Reading certain books and pamphlets brought to the Professor’s mind memories of Angel Ozalo, the first turtle boy, Iceland born, who had a remarkable career exhibiting himself in medical fora and symposia (for a fee, of course). His home base was St. Thomas, and he was well known in Royal Society circles for his three-leggedness. Many wanted to amputate the extra leg for their museum collections, but he knew its show value and refused. The additional leg was an evagination of the sacrum, and it was insensate. The knee was fused and unbendable, but he could still flap it under his left thigh and strap it there like a flamingo does during sleep. Half of the flamingos known to the Professor were left-footed anyway. So Angel went on with seeming agility, unencumbered.
The Professor wrote a little commemorative poem dedicated to Angel:
Turtle Boy, oh, Turtle Boy,
Sprung from hot springs,
Only 18 inches high.
Wondrous legs, no kneecaps
To scrape or joints within them.
Play your drums, boy,
Play your drums,
Your flute and panpipes too.
King Dodo, after all.
One evening the Professor presented a learned lecture on a bird-headed turtle boy who he’d captured in Sumatra. It had to be smuggled off the island because he had no waiver and refused to pay duty. He spared no expense on the boy’s toilet and had imported two-headed-turtle-oil cream for lubricating his testicle bag.