Gender is the agenda….
OK – fact: The Rolling Stones are the greatest rock band in the world.
But The Who are definitely the second greatest, and one of my favourite lines is from a little known Who song from 1967 – Tattoo:-
Me and my brother were talking to each other
‘Bout what makes a man a man
Was it brain or brawn, or the month you were born,
We just couldn’t understand
So that’s the question – what makes a man a man, or a woman a woman?
The point is, gender – and I’m not talking genitalia – isn’t 0 or 1, + or -, all or nothing. It’s a vast confusing ocean of currents, eddies and tides from blokes who define themselves by sports, drinking statistics and breaking wind in public to women who can only giggle, file their nails and think that kittens are sweet, via a whole world of individuals in between those two stereotype extremes.
I want to challenge preconceptions about a number of things. Science fiction itself, for starters.
Captain Kirk trekked through the stars on his five year mission to seek out new life and new civilisations and boldly have romantic liaisons every week with aliens who, while some of them might be green, were always totally, totally unambiguously female and heterosexual.
He only ever found himself presented with English speaking women so scantily clad there could be very little doubt as to their gender, however, sexuality isn’t always so visible.
I’d have loved to have seen a situation where the rampantly hetero James T. Kirk (the T possibly standing for testosterone) found himself in a passionate liaison with a gay alien male or had his clumsy advances rebuffed by a lesbian from another planet.
He really needed to read “The Left Hand Of Darkness” by Ursula Le Guin, a brilliant SF novel about a planet where gender doesn’t really exist. He’d have found his phaser set permanently on stunned I should think.
It’s a bit of a daft idea that gender and sexuality are a social constant across the universe so my two worlds in L’Wren, Hawk and the Doves have totally different views on the subject. I’ll let you read the book to find out what the twist on the Dove’s home planet of Turacoena is (no spoilers here) but the war, on the planet Ourania, that the Doves are seeking to bring an end to is all about gender.
Ourania is a planet divided by gender, with rigid social and geographical structures in place. Gender is everything yet sexuality, because of this, is flexible. Within their respective social and geographical confines homosexuality is the norm and outside is heterosexuality expected and accepted.
It makes total sense on Ourania, trust me.
Into the mix comes the relationship between L’Wren and Hawk. They each have a past, and a future, and the Doves, with their innate empathy, bring challenges that neither of them expects.
And the Doves themselves have to confront the emotional feedback and physical demands of dealing not only with the heightened atmosphere around L’Wren and Hawk but with their own past and the secret they have to keep.
Like Captain Kirk, I grew up with gender and sexuality as a nice, safe, vanilla thing. Luckily, real life is far more challenging than taking a warp speed jaunt across the universe and my illusions were soon shattered. Captain Kirk might never have found anyone gay, but all you have to do is walk to the supermarket and the boy collecting the trolleys is probably having adolescent sexuality challenges, the man filling the shelves may well harbor fantasies of dressing as a woman while the woman on the checkout may well have been born a man. And who knows just how many people you meet are gay, openly or not.
Gender matters, it really does but the important thing is that it’s not really as simple as male or female, boy or girl. It’s not 0 or 1, black or white, gay or straight; gender isn’t just about what’s between your legs, it’s probably more about what’s between your ears.
We all know blokey blokes, the type who can only really talk about football and cars, who think fart jokes are hilarious and who only ever drink pints in the company of other alpha males in the pub, just as we all know girly girls, head to foot in pink, talking constantly about hair, make-up and shoes, giggling with a head full of kittens and bathroom accessories.
Except we don’t really, do we?
No-one I’ve ever met – or even read about – matches either stereotype. Everyone I know sits somewhere on a long curve that stretches from Barbie to Conan the Barbarian via gay, straight, bi, confused and curious.
So in L’Wren, Hawk and the Doves I’m exploring the issues around just that. My starship captain, Saker “Hawk” Hawking and his green skinned, feathered alien (and female) first mate, L’Wren James are in a relationship with all the attendant problems of that professional/personal clash. Into the mix comes that planet divided by a gender war, where males and females inhabit separate continents and only come together once a generation to ensure there is a next generation, and a ‘Dove’ team of two peace negotiators who have to interact strictly male to male and female to female with the warring factions.
But the Doves, two mysterious alien empaths who can not only feel all the emotions of those around them – and have to keep their reactions to those emotions under tight control – they also create an emotional wake of intense feelings wherever they go.
Gender, sexuality and identity itself are challenged as the Doves cause L’Wren and Hawk to reassess not only the past but their future together.
The Doves themselves have a secret that is almost laid bare when one of them is kidnapped and seriously injured while the other is lost in action.
But which is which?
And are they who they claim they are?
L’Wren, Hawk and the Doves is available for pre-order on the 19th April, for early download on the 3rd May, and goes on general release the 31st May from Pride Publishing
Catch up with Faberge on –