The best speculative fiction about sex and society

Who am I?

I believe sex is at the core of every society. Not just intimacy, but procreation—how entities, human or otherwise, reproduce. I’m interested in how they select mates and care for their young. From this most basic of imperatives flows all of biology, history, and society. What would happen if society were different? What would happen if sex were different? I write speculative fiction exploring what could be. So far I’ve written about 20 short stories and 6 novels. 2 of the short stories and 3 of my novels have been published—with more on their way.

I wrote...

The Fisherman and the Gene Thief

By Lizzie Newell,

Book cover of The Fisherman and the Gene Thief

What is my book about?

Teakh Noahee lives on a planet with three women for every man. Nice odds for a young fellow, but the society is matriarchal, and women are fussy. They prefer men who are loyal, altruistic, and above all monogamous—an impossible rarity given the shortage of men. That is until a lab technician runs genetic tests on Teakh’s blood and discovers the genes of the perfect man, or so she thinks.

Before he’s aware of these tests, he’s seduced by three mysterious women who in all likelihood acquire a sperm sample to be sold on the black market. This would be fine except he’s to become a high-priced sperm donor. To make matters worse, he’s fallen head-over-heels in love with the most beautiful of his seductresses.

The books I picked & why

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Ethan of Athos

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Book cover of Ethan of Athos

Why this book?

This book is fun. It’s about a society that is entirely male. In order to have children, they make use of ovarian tissue. Unfortunately, the society’s supply of this essential tissue has degraded. When a replacement shipment arrives from a biological supply house, it’s unusable. A rather idealistic doctor sets out on a quest to solve the mystery and replace the ovarian tissue.

Kushiel's Dart

By Jacqueline Carey,

Book cover of Kushiel's Dart

Why this book?

This ground-breaking fantasy novel incorporates eroticism with worldbuilding. The religion of the society centers around sex with the motto, “Love as thou wilt.” The heroine, Phèdre nó Delauney has been born with a mote in her eye, signifying that she is one of the rare individuals who finds pain to be erotic, and so she becomes a celebrated and sought-after courtesan.

The Left Hand of Darkness

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Why this book?

Another ground-breaking work of speculative fiction, one of the earliest to show a single-gender society. In it, individuals become either male or female only in order to reproduce. I loved the idea of the book and always wanted it taken further. LeGuin used male pronouns for the genderless individuals, so we never truly get a sense of what it would be to live in such a society. Or even how reproduction worked. But this book is well worth the read, a classic.

The Gate to Women's Country

By Sheri S. Tepper,

Book cover of The Gate to Women's Country

Why this book?

Tepper’s book harks back to the social speculation of classical Greece: Plato’s Republic and The Iliad. It shows a world where men live as warriors in barracks outside the villages of women. The women determine which of the men are worthy of reproducing. The story treads the line between utopian and dystopian. It presents “a feast of reason,” as it explores the no-man’s land between men and women.


By Cecilia Tan,

Book cover of Sextopia

Why this book?

This anthology showed me what is possible. Tan’s vision of what speculative fiction could be, inspired me. She wrote: “So I dream of a world, a country, a society, where honoring sexual desire is a part of the foundation upon which it is built, where celebrating eroticism and diversity of desire adds to the order of things.”

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