2011 Arthur C Clarke Award Statistics: Sex And Violence
The last post talked about the general characteristics of contemporary science fiction. Now I want to talk about a specific pair of issues.
In the real world, sex is a good thing and violence is a bad thing. Yet there is a feeling – one I share – that science fiction is overly bloodthirsty whilst simultaneously too childishly squeamish about sex. And the stats reflect this. In the real world, a single murder would be extremely notable; in science fiction, this is small beer:
What goes around, comes around:
Don’t worry though, death is not the end!
I also looked at rape since its depiction in fiction is so controversial and it is often not felt to be well handled in genre fiction.
From these statistics I have excluded Blood And Iron by Tony Ballantyne which includes robot “rape”. Whilst it is stated in the novel to be directly analoguous to human rape I am not comfortable grouping the two together. However, I have included Sylvow by Douglas Thompson which features rape by an intelligent tree.
Science fiction is happy to deal in extremes like this but I wondered how it fared on a more domestic level. As well as looking at sex itself, I also looked at whether any protagonists started the novel in a relationship.
So a protagonist in a science fiction novel is more likely to kill someone than have sex and yes, it does seem authors are much more squeamish about depicting sex than violence.