Androgyny, Motorcycle Boots, and Sci-fi

Sci-fi is so gay. And I mean that literally. It’s queer in the sense that it imagines radically different ways of being and living. This freedom to explore worlds beyond this one offers the leeway to explore the different existing lifestyles beyond the norms of this world. According to the Wikipedia page about LGBTQ Sci-Fi, “speculative fiction also gives authors and readers the freedom to imagine societies that are different from real-life cultures. This freedom makes speculative fiction a useful means of examining sexual bias, by forcing the reader to reconsider his or her heteronormative cultural assumptions. It has also been claimed by critics such as Nicola Griffith that LGBT readers identify strongly with the mutants, aliens, and other outsider characters found in speculative fiction.” For a really great example of genderfucking is sci-fi, look at the classic Samuel R. Delany story “Aye, and Gomorrah,” a piece of short fiction about gender-neutral astronauts who prostitute themselves for various reasons to people who fetishize their androgyny.

In the tradition of all this queerness and genderfucking, I’ve started a sci-fi piece of my own about a person who shifts genders and sexes at will (and sometimes against their will) in a wild-west like space outpost. Here’s the beginning:


There are still times that it flickers out of control. It’s why I dress the way I do—jeans not sagging but not tight, loose black t-shirt, black cycle boots. There’s no way to pin those things down, not out here. Not when every other person in these dark saloons with the puke and piss gutters under the bar looks the same way. The change happens slow, too, and I can feel it coming on. In the dimness, with my knowledge, there’s time for me to get out, to be just another anonymous face before anyone notices.

These times aren’t often, though. Not so seldom that I think they’ve ceased, but rare enough that I am sometimes imprudent. Like that night in the Sputter. Kegan was drunk and drooling, and his lack of control made me feel a strong sense of it. In no time, I would have him handing over his keys and I’d be piloting out of this pisshole of an outpost. There would probably be the usual theft reports and the like, but nobody would believe the sorry drunk hadn’t screwed up somehow, and there would be no investigation. I’d come back when I felt like it, if I felt like it, if I hadn’t had it with this hole for good this time. But there were too many people in the Sputter. I should have known. I can’t always control it.

I can best describe the initial sensation as a flicker at my edges. My skin suddenly feels like it doesn’t have a distinct end point to it. I feel blurred, like someone who had moved too soon in one of those old photographs that you still see sometimes in junk shops down on Patterson Row. I can feel my body strain and push in different spots, mostly my chest and between my legs, but also the bones of my hands and jaw.

“What’s the matter, sweetie?” Kegan said, leaning towards me. The smell of the booze on his breath mixed up with the smell from his rotted-out teeth was too much to bear. Without waiting for an answer, he leaned in for a kiss. No segue, nothing. A classy guy. I leaned back and he fell forward, his face colliding with my left shoulder, just as his hand reached up for my left breast.

“Bathroom,” I managed, pushing away and sliding off my barstool. I knew I had fifteen minutes at most. Better to be long out of here when it happened.

I headed towards where the bathrooms actually were, figuring I’d fake that way, then turn and sneak out the front when Kegan wasn’t expecting me to. I suppose it was curiosity that made me linger, looking about. I was searching for whoever had precipitated the change. Whoever had overridden my years of careful training with biological frequencies they probably didn’t even understand they were putting out. Sometimes it was sexual (and disturbingly reproductively sexual rather than recreationally sexual) so I looked for the sort of woman I’d be attracted to. Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a single female in the place that I’d take home with me. Who could it be then?

I had just about given up on the search and started to walk away when the glimpse of a face appeared as two burly men who had been part hugging and part wrestling each other broke apart. The person I saw had smooth, clear skin and delicate features—a small, celestial nose, two almond-shaped brown eyes, slightly downward turned lips. The person’s hair was short and spiky and a light brown that was almost blonde. Not the sort of face you expect in this kind of place, ordinarily, but even more so when it’s a face you recognize the way I recognized it. And the way those almond-shaped eyes were trained on me, I knew that they hadn’t forgotten me, either.

A feeling like static began to pulse along my edges, but even as my breasts became tight, I didn’t feel the tingle of thickening hairs in my pores. I had to get out of there.

Breaking the gaze between us, I made for the door, the heels of my boots striking the floor beneath me.


About thebaffledkingcomposing

Pamela DiFrancesco is a writer with a community college degree in journalism, a fancy art school degree in fiction and a penchant for community organizing. A native of Pennsylvania coal country, Pamela lives in Astoria, Queens, writes, and does whatever else it takes to pay the bills. In the past, Pamela has worked for newspapers and taught children journalism in an after-school program. Pamela's fiction can be found on the web at Cezanne's Carrot and Monkeybicycle, in print in The Carolina Quarterly (who nominated "The Chuck Berry Tape Massacre" for the Best American Mystery Writing anthology) and forthcoming in The New Ohio Review. When not writing, Pamela practices acts of love and kindness in hopes of a radically different world, and is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse through acts of badassery.
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One Response to Androgyny, Motorcycle Boots, and Sci-fi

  1. seby23m says:

    Believe me, you do a good job. keep up the good work!!

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