When sci-fi grandmaster Ursula K. Le Guin died last week, her fans shared many of her quotes, excerpts from her books and articles about her impact on literature.
In a series of thoughtful tweets, author Jeet Heer noted that Le Guin was part of a shift in American science fiction from xenophobia to xenophilia. Instead of shooting laser pistols at the little gray men, we started waggling our eyebrows at them and sending winking emojis.
Around the same time Le Guin was crafting "The Left Hand of Darkness," a story set in a spacefaring future in which a man falls in love with an ambisexual foreigner, thousands of teenage girls were developing their first crush on the pointy-eared, green-blooded science officer of the original "Star Trek" TV series.
Since then, it has been a whirlwind of nonhuman romances in popular culture, from Disney's "Robin Hood" and "Space Jam's" Lola Bunny (both widely credited/blamed for the rise of the modern furry fetish) to the interspecies canoodling in James Cameron's "Avatar." Fun fact: You can buy a Na'vi Fleshlight-style sex toy made of blue SuperSkin with a double clit.
The trend culminated last year in Guillermo de Toro's beautifully haunting "The Shape of Water," in which (spoiler alert) a human woman totally fucks a fish man. The film has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards.
Somewhere, a gay-marriage opponent is yelling, "I TOLD you it was a slippery slope!"
Sorry to disappoint you, Cletus, but this does not mean society is inching closer to accepting matrimony between man and chicken. You could use a whole gallon of lube and the slope would still stop decisively at consenting adults.
But that leaves plenty of wiggle room for aliens, mythological hybrids and even artificial intelligence. Joke all you want about sexbots replacing women, but when the technological singularity turns the world upside down, there's gonna be a reckoning. Check out the movies "Her" and "Ex Machina" for right and wrong ways to bump uglies with nonorganic life forms. I, for one, welcome our new robot singles and will toggle my Tinder profile settings to "show androids."
If such a future is in store, how long do you bet before some douchecanoe complains, "Hey, I'M a nice guy with a functional, organic penis. How come all the femoids are bending over for Chad 2.0 instead of crawling into my pants where they belong?" My advice for that 22nd-century sad sack would be the same as it is now: Maybe take an honest look in the mirror before blaming your problems on others.
Call me an optimist, but I truly believe if we can learn to practice self-care and mutual respect and keep an open mind, we can all find the woman, fish man or gender-fluid digital entity of our dreams.