Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


SF
March 6, 2006 1:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for science fiction/speculative fiction without depictions of sexual violence. What books should I read?
posted by billtron to Writing & Language (48 answers total)
 
Almost any SF will fit this bill. Sexual violence isn't a particularly regular feature of SF. Easier to tell you to avoid specific authors I'd think.
posted by A189Nut at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2006


as she climbed across the table - jonathan lethem
posted by luriete at 1:24 PM on March 6, 2006


I'd agree. It'd almost be easier to ask for our favorite science fiction books -- is that what you're asking, or have you had bad luck in picking books?
posted by mikeh at 1:24 PM on March 6, 2006


oops, meant to recommend girl in landscape, by lethem, which i am in the middle of. sorry. i think if you stay away from military sf you'll be fine though, as a189Nut says
posted by luriete at 1:26 PM on March 6, 2006


Sexual violence isn't a particularly regular feature of SF.
Certainly no more so than it is a feature of regular fiction...what an odd question. It would certainly be easier to come up with specific books that HAVE sexual violence than a comprehensive list of all those that don't.

Avoid Bruce Calder, at any rate.
posted by juv3nal at 1:27 PM on March 6, 2006


A Canticle for Leibowiwz by Walter Miller fits the bill. It's one of my favs and it doesn't have sex in it at all, that I recall.
posted by 6550 at 1:27 PM on March 6, 2006


I don't think William Gibson uses much sexual violence(lots of the ordinary kind), neither does Asimov,Vernor Vinge, or Greg Egan.
Also you should be Ok with most earlier Sci-fi .
PKD doesn't really jump out at me as being sexually violent but there's got to be a fair bit seeing as he is a pretty sick puppy.
Stay the hell away from "When gravity fails" by George Alec Effinger. Also Neal Stephenson has a bunch ,none that i can remember in Cryptonomicon or Zodiac though .
Alot of the space opera stuff has some sort of sexual violence.
I think you will be better guided by specific authors than by specific novels.
posted by grex at 1:28 PM on March 6, 2006


Does A Clockwork Orange count?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:35 PM on March 6, 2006


Stanislaw Lem's books are very good. His Master's Voice, Solaris and The Cyberiad are my favorites. There may be some sexual situations/sexually-oriented humor in The Cyberiad, but no sexual violence.
posted by cog_nate at 1:35 PM on March 6, 2006


If you see anything with the word "Gor" in the title, just walk away.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:36 PM on March 6, 2006


Doesn't seem that odd a question to me, although I might be oversensitive to that sort of thing. There are many, many reasons to avoid Piers Anthony, but sexual violence is certainly one.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2006


I don't remember any sexual violence in any of Ray Bradbury's works. I also second 'A Canticle for Leibowitz'.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2006


Does A Clockwork Orange count?

Sorry, I think I read that in reverse, scratch that!

How about 2001?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2006


Issac Azimov. Although known to leer at the pretty female (self admitted) that he might meet at a convention, his works are suitable for most any reader. He did not feel it was a sign of a good writer to include sex scenes (with a few exceptions for particular writers.) He was a prolific writer, and there are hundreds of books and short stoies to choose from.

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 1:48 PM on March 6, 2006


Anything that Arthur Clarke wrote solo fits the bill. Avoid his collaborations though.

I disagree with the assessment that sexual violence isn't a regular thing in Science Fiction. I'd say that roughly a quarter of the genre includes characters who either have been in the past or are in the course of the story sexually abused in some way. A smaller percentage than you find in the romances, but a lot larger than you find in the woodworking section.
posted by tkolar at 1:50 PM on March 6, 2006


Although it's a fine, fantastic, wonderful piece of writing, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson should be avoided if this is your concern.
posted by WCityMike at 1:50 PM on March 6, 2006


City, by Clifford Simak.

There's sex, but I don't recall any sexual violence, in Ringworld, or in most of Larry Niven's works, for that matter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:55 PM on March 6, 2006


There's a fair amount of sexual violence in the works of Roger Zelazny and Robert J. Sawyer, so I'd avoid them, too.

I seem to recall sexual violence being central to the plots of both "The Turth Machine" and "The First Immortal" by James Halperin, too.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:57 PM on March 6, 2006


The only SF that I can think of with a large degree of sexual violence is some of Octavia Butler's work, though a lot of her work is totally free of it. Stephenson seems to have one rape per book, though I can't recall one from Zodiac. Also avoid S.M. Stirling, he does speculative fiction stuff. I'm pretty touchy about sexual violence and I like writers like Ursula K. Leguin and William Gibson. Ray Bradbury has no sexual violence in anything he's done that I can remember, and I'd be suprised to find any in Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke.
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on March 6, 2006


I think sexual violence seems to be more common in "fantasy" books - BUT there is the problem that sci-fi and fantasy are often grouped together in many smaller bookstores (and some bigger ones). And I guess there can be a lot of overlap between the 2 genres...

I'll give another vote for Asimov's work...I don't remember any sexual violence in any of his books.
posted by johnsmith415 at 2:15 PM on March 6, 2006


Does sexual violence include Molly's meat puppet stint in Neuromancer?
posted by tcobretti at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2006


Oh yes.

I would actually recommend any hard science fiction from the so-called Golden Age of sci fi. Not only was there almost no sexual violence, there was almost no sex, or even women!

The short stories published by Galaxy is generally excellent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2006


Go for Robert Heinlein's juvie novels - "Have spacesuit, will travel", "farmer in the sky", "Podkayne of mars". Brilliant stuff. Also, I think Orson Scott Card doesn't do much sex - I certainly don't recall any in Ender's game (there's some violence but it's not gratuitous). Anne McCaffrey seems pretty innocent too and that's both the Pern series and the Ships that could.

I liked Asimov but I think he and his ideas of society have dated a lot - you very rarely find strong female characters in his stories. I think Niven and Pournelle are excellent choices - some sex, but I can't think of any sexual violence.

Darn, now I'd like to stay home and read instead of going to work.
posted by b33j at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2006


Good lord, forget Molly's meat puppet stint - how about the vicious and clearly sexual show that Riviera puts on? I would certainly *not* recommend William Gibson's Neuromancer.

In general Gibson's a great read, but he does have some scenes of general violence. A safe bet would be Pattern Recognition.

And Zodiac (by Neal Stephenson) doesn't have any sexual violence.
posted by synapse at 2:37 PM on March 6, 2006


C. J. Cherryh
posted by leafwoman at 2:54 PM on March 6, 2006


Certainly, whatever you do, do not read The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr. unless, you know, you want to read a brilliant, dark science fiction story about men's sexual violence against women written by a remarkable woman (Dr. Alice Sheldon) with an astonishing life who masqueraded as a man so her stories could be published and read.

Of course if you do want to read it, it's here.
posted by The Bellman at 2:58 PM on March 6, 2006


Molly's meat puppet stint and Riviera's show are not sexual violence... one is prostitution (with gory sex), the other is a representation of said gory sex.. well, I guess the former was not done with complete consent because she was zoned out..

Violent sex != sexual violence, but I guess it's best avoided if you're keeping away from that side of things.
posted by Firas at 2:59 PM on March 6, 2006


I think most of David Brin's stuff is pretty safe. I'm trying to remember parts of the end of Klin People (which was very good), some sexuality but I don't think Sex violence
posted by edgeways at 3:19 PM on March 6, 2006


Also, I think Orson Scott Card doesn't do much sex

Au contraire. Orson Scott Card's books contain a surprising amount of sex and perversion. I know at least one of his books involves a woman being raped by an alien, but I don't remember which one. (One of his earlier ones.)

Ender's Game is still a good recommendation though.
posted by agropyron at 3:20 PM on March 6, 2006


Firas, while I agree that violent sex does not necessarily equal sexual violence, it's clearly insinuated that Molly's fellow prostitute had been murdered, and that Molly left prostitution for fear of being brutalized.
posted by cog_nate at 4:01 PM on March 6, 2006


'The Sirens Of Titan' by Kurt Vonnegut.

Really, any Vonnegut will do - but this one's a real winner.
posted by myodometer at 4:52 PM on March 6, 2006


I'm no expert on SF, but I can suggest a book or two that I have really liked.

1)I read Childhood's End long ago and it has always stuck with me. I'm pretty sure than there was nothing of a sexually violent nature involved. It has religious overtones as far as the existence (or not) of god goes.

2)Not long ago, I decided to read some Philip K. Dick since he is usually touted as a primo SF writer. I started with Confessions of a Crap Artist. It's less fantastical than some of his other books and I have to admit that I loved the title. It was a good book. I don't recall anything of a sexually violent nature at all in the book. And they recently had a fascinating piece on BBC radio about PKD and his book Valis (which I haven't read). I'm not sure if it's still in the archives though. If you can find it, it's worth a listen. And the god question is the theme of Valis also, according to the BBC program.
posted by bim at 5:15 PM on March 6, 2006


Nobody has mentioned Iain M. Banks! Shame on you people!

And I second Vernor Vinge. Excellent.
posted by tkchrist at 5:52 PM on March 6, 2006


Olaf Stapledon's Starmaker and Last and First Men
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:05 PM on March 6, 2006


Nobody has mentioned Iain M. Banks! Shame on you people!

...but avoid The Algebraist. It's great, but there is some sexual violence. Same with The Wasp Factory. And those two are all I've read by him, so that's all I have to say...
posted by jessenoonan at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2006


Babel-17, Sam Delany
posted by brundlefly at 9:18 PM on March 6, 2006


This has got to be the weirdest (non-deleted) AskMe yet. What on earth makes you think that sexual violence is common in SF? You could pick up 999 books out of 1000 in the genre and be perfectly safe.

Did you get burned or something? It's just.... such a strange question.
posted by Malor at 10:11 PM on March 6, 2006


Since Vernor Vinge has been mentioned, I wanted to warn the original poster that his "A Deepness in the Sky" does have a subplot that involves what I would categorize as sexual abuse. (Not too violent, but abusive and a bit disturbing.) It's my favorite book of his, but it might bother you if you're sensitive to that sort of thing.

The rest of Vinge's work should be safe. Also: anything by Wil McCarthy. Gregory Benford is another good one--I don't recall any sexual violence, but it's been a while since I've read some of those.

Robert L. Forward's Dragon's Egg and Starquake are excellent and safe, and the rest of his work is worth a try too.

Harry Harrison is good if you want something a bit more on the juvenile side, and Douglas Adams is good if you want something more on the comedy side.

Lois Bujold is my favorite SF author but I can think of at least two of hers with incidents of sexual violence, so avoid them unless you have a fan specifically recommend which ones you should read.

My first impulse here was to agree that "just about any SF should fit the bill", but after I went through a few of my recommendations I discovered that it's more common than I would have thought...
posted by mmoncur at 10:23 PM on March 6, 2006


Malor wrote...

This has got to be the weirdest (non-deleted) AskMe yet. What on earth makes you think that sexual violence is common in SF? You could pick up 999 books out of 1000 in the genre and be perfectly safe.

Malor, two things:

1) The original questioner never claimed that sexual violence was common in SF. They merely asked for book recommendations that avoided it.

2) Assuming you are in fact an SF fan, you can probably verify that the incidence of sexual violence in SF is much higher than 0.1%. In my collection it runs about 30% for described and referenced sexual abuse, but I'm a little light on the classics.
posted by tkolar at 12:10 AM on March 7, 2006


tkolar: I'd say that roughly a quarter of the genre includes characters who either have been in the past or are in the course of the story sexually abused in some way

This is such a vast overgeneralization and bullshit statistic that it actually boggles my mind. I am boggled here, people!

Avoid most of Heinlein's later work. Not much sexual violence, but lots of "Hey, sex with ANYBODY is fine as long as it's not for procreation". I didn't mind it too much, but if you're offended by sexual violence, I'm guessing you'll be offended by travelling back in time and having sex with one's mother. His juvie stuff is very entertaining though.

The Orson Scott Card rape book: Wyrms. Just about ANYTHING else by him is fine. In fact, when somebody mentioned the rape scene in a book by him, I was so shocked to hear about it (I've read over 20 of his books) that I had to google-fu it. Imagine my surprise!
posted by antifuse at 2:19 AM on March 7, 2006


I don't think depictions of sexual violence are a part of most science fiction, so 99% of all science fiction should be available to you. Do you have any other criteria you are looking for in a good sci-fi book?
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:09 AM on March 7, 2006


As a huge science fiction/fantasy fan, I think billtron's question is perfectly legitimate. I love the genres but find that when I encounter sexual violence in the books I read, that it's a huge turn-off and it makes me wonder what the authors' motives are in including it. Shock value? Sell more books? I would say that 1% is too low a figure, and 30% possibly too high, but I do seem to encounter sexual violence in sf/fantasy books far more frequently than I would like.
posted by Lynsey at 11:01 AM on March 7, 2006


I've never read the book, but it occurs to me that Contact, by Carl Sagan, may be a good science fiction novel that involves no sexual violence. I base this, however, on the plot of the movie; I have yet to read the book, although I plan to.
posted by WCityMike at 1:02 PM on March 7, 2006


but avoid The Algebraist. It's great, but there is some sexual violence

There is? Oh. The Archimandrate. Just barely. I guess I am completely immune unless it's over-the-top.

I suppose I don't worry about it because there is this great technology called "turning the page and skipping ahead."
posted by tkchrist at 4:06 PM on March 7, 2006


Can't say it'll always be free of sexual violence, but the short-short-scifi-story-a-day of 365 Tomorrows is a nice site.
posted by WCityMike at 5:14 PM on March 7, 2006


There is? Oh. The Archimandrate. Just barely.

Er, there's an anal rape which is deliberately planned to hurt as much as possible. I think that's a bit more than "just barely".

Sexual violence is a recurring theme through Banks work so it was a pretty poor suggestion really.
posted by ninebelow at 5:47 AM on March 8, 2006


Sexual violence is a recurring theme through Banks work so it was a pretty poor suggestion really.

It's not a theme in the Culture series. I just read all the culture books this year... and I honestly can't think of any sexual violence in any of those at all. Never read his spculative stuff like Wasp Factory.
posted by tkchrist at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2006


It's not a theme in the Culture series.
Unless you count the human plot in Excession, with Dajeil's abortion/murder/extended guilt trip.

It's definitely a theme in his non-SF books. I can hold my nose and skim past the (many) mysogynist chapters in his Culture books, but in books like Walking On Glass that doesn't leave much.
posted by ook at 2:28 PM on March 8, 2006


« Older Can you recommend a bed and br...   |  There's a website with amazing... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.