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Worlds Apart. Worldbuilding with Sex and Gender

Luna's fifth Call for Papers, Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction is now in pre-order and will be released on Tuesday 27th of July. Here is a chance to discover the 14 brilliant papers you will find in the book in the order they appear.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Cheryl Morgan, presenting the paper: "Worldbuilding with Sex and Gender"


Science fiction is fond of creating new worlds populated by new types of creatures, but often the imagination of authors is somewhat limited. TV and movies can perhaps be forgiven for sticking to the basic humanoid shape because they have to turn human actors into aliens, but written fiction has no such excuse. Nevertheless, we see far too many examples of alien species that are bipedal, have two sexes and, apparently most importantly, whose females have two (and only two) large breasts. Fortunately, help is at hand. The natural world on our own planet is full of creatures that do sex and gender very differently from humans. Many animal species have same-sex liaisons. Most animals determine their sex in a very different way to the XX/XY chromosome system used by mammals. Some animals change sex naturally as part of their lifecycle. Some exhibit what we might recognise as transgender identities. And some have a lot more than two sexes. Taking the natural world as its inspiration, and the work of pioneering biologists such as Professor Joan Roughgarden, this essay will provide examples of how aliens can be very different from humans. Along the way it will look at a few examples, such as Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and Martha Wells’ Raksura novels, that have successfully created interestingly alien aliens. Cheryl Morgan is a writer, editor, publisher and critic. She owns Wizard’s Tower Press and has written for a variety of outlets including Locus, The SFWA Bulletin, SFX, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Holdfast Magazine and SF Signal. She is, to her knowledge, the first openly transgender person to have won a Hugo Award. In addition to her science fiction interests she also co-hosts a women’s interest show in Ujima Radio and lectures widely on transgender history.

Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction

is now in pre-order!


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