Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spar by Kij Johnson

I enjoyed "Spar," although not as much as some others on the internet. One human and one alien share a tiny lifeboat after their ships are destroyed in a collision. Their only communication is sex. The description of their wordless interaction is unsparing. There is little context. The story starts after the collision and ends at the moment of rescue, as the lifeboat is opened from outside. The bulk of the story is interior monologue as the human woman endures within the lifeboat. Since her partner in the lifeboat is alien and all communication is non-verbal, the story is claustrophobic. The non-verbal nature of the story leaves it ambiguous as to whether the alien is sentient. Another reading is that the relationship is pre-verbal and that the story's subtext is that of childhood sexual abuse.

The story fits within Japanese tradition of "tentacle erotica." There's a Wikipedia entry for tentacle erotica.

Related post: The Years Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume Four, table of contents

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