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The Cage of Zeus giveaway contest!

by nickmamatas

it’s that time again-a new book means a new essay contest. This time we’re giving away four copies of The Cage of Zeus by Sayuri Ueda.

Not only is this book Haikasoru’s first proper science fiction novel by a woman author, it deals with issues of gender and identity. (There’s also plenty of action and terrorism, incidentally.) In the future, scientists have genetically engineered a new subspecies called Rounds—for “round-trip gender.” These people have the sex organs of both genders and can simultaneously impregnate and be inseminated during intercourse. Not surprisingly, some people object to the very existence of such beings.

So, here’s this week’s essay question: what is the future of gender? Is gender static, or does it shift naturally? Can it, and should it, be manipulated purposefully for scientific or social ends? Let us know in 100 words or less…or more if you are truly inspired. Inspire us, and you win a free copy of The Cage of Zeus! We take entries in English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, or Greek, and will be pleased to ship a prize book anywhere in the world, as we are all about world SF! (And off-world SF, but that’s another story.) You have till noon, US Pacific time on Friday to get your entries in! Thanks in advance for playing!

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8 Responses to “The Cage of Zeus giveaway contest!”

  1. Ignatz Zwakh says:

    I see the future of gender going one of two ways. One is rather extreme, the other utterly banal though comforting in it’s predictability. One positive for how comfortably akin to our present it is, the other somewhat alien and terrifying for the male bit of our race.

    In the first scenario, which closely mirrors the current state of affairs, not much changes, at least not immediately. Over time the lines between what is acceptable concerning certain genders (Homosexuality, professions, etc) blur and hopefully most of, if not all people, come to simply accept that people should be able to pursue their loves and dreams regardless of gender. Gender stops being this bizarre barrier that causes so many to fall into the throes of depression or raise up makeshift weapons in fits of rage. We end up at this point in time, hopefully not far off, where men and women aren’t regarded as men and women first and foremost, but by what they’ve done, who they are as people, rather than sex organs.

    In the second scenario, men become obsolete. This wouldn’t happen soon, but gradually over a couple of hundred years. Advances in bio-technology and cloning would cause the male half to be lacking in his necessity. Feminine technocrats would outlaw the male gene, citing it as the reason for non-objective thinking, for the stupidity of war throughout most of our history and for the atrocities and demands placed upon womankind in the name of wanton sex and violence. The worker bee would be exterminated, euthanized. Maybe kept as genetic eunuchs grown in tubes and use for slave labor and naught else, while the womenfolk would colonize the universe, order triumphing over our hereditary shackles.

    And you know what? Maybe that would bring about a utopia of sorts for mankind. Even with the promise of serenity and peace though, I sure as hell wouldn’t want that to happen. I like to think that, despite everything, women enjoy our company, if only for what glorious buffoons we are.

  2. Seneca H. says:

    I like to hope that we’ll eventually create and become a genderless society of autogamous human beings through bioengineering, or maybe something like the Gethen aliens in Ursula Le Guin’s novel ‘The Left Hand of Darkness,’ who are androgynous most of the time and only develop male or female genitalia when going into mating mode for a few days each month (and it varies which gender a person becomes, depending on the chemistry between themselves and the person they are mating with that month. The same person could bear children and also father others!). It would be fantastic if we could remove this fairly huge divide that gender causes in the current human experience and everyone could have one less external factor separating them from understanding/being closer to one another.

  3. Rachel Swirsky says:

    It wasn’t that he didn’t like being a he, it was that being a he had become tiresome over the past forty years. There was something so sibilant about being a she, so hissingly sensuous, s-ing all over the place. Some people color inside the lines; some people keep their feet inside the boundaries; some people pull the lids over their heads and call themselves happy. Gender is a box. Open yourself. Let someone else open you. That’s what he thought, anyway. She. He-she-xie-ze-sie-se-*e. Since Roundhouse’s 2035 treatise “On Sexual Reassignment of the Soul,” it had been generally well-accepted that not only was gender an illusion, but consciousness was also an illusion, and gender-consciousness doubly so. Still, had society done much more than create a consumer explosion of pink mac trucks and sports dolls you could both bounce and throw through a hoop? Not hardly. They justified it through reference to acculturation theory, and double-blind double-consciousness theory, and the intuitive truism, “Who cares if it’s a fake? If you’re a butterfly dreaming you’re a human, then we’re still in the dream, got to keep on dreaming.” Dreaming of gender. Keeping s’s strictly to one side. That’s why he had surgical equipment now, he and his s-desiring gang. They were going to remake the world. Call it gender terrorism if you have to, but isn’t it gender terrorism what they’ve got now? With police tape all around the boxes? It might take a little violence, but they’re going to free you, free me, free themselves, scramble us all up, remake he into she into xie and see what happens when everyone wakes up in the morning, all different from what they were. All the same, too, since gender is a dream. So let’s wake up. Out of the chrysallis. See where the next illusion of consciousness goes.

  4. Gregory says:

    My thoughts about the future of gender are linked to my fears of the rise of rightwing corporate fundamentalism in the west. It corporate entities can make a buck off promoting a wide array of sexual choices then there may be good times ahead for those who have an open mind but more like science dabbling in gender will lead to controlling the populous , their offspring and the like. Sadly alternate lifestyles may be pushed into the shadows as the taboo thing again if the fundies get their way.

  5. Mx Salvucci says:

    Baudrillard says that we’re all transsexuals; that we are all symbolically transsexuals. While I don’t necessarily agree with this statement as it pertains to present day society, I’m confident that one day it will be true. One day soon we will reach the [gender] singularity; a point at which physical matter, and therefore our bodies, will require a radical shift in definition. I look forward to this post-gender paradigm. I await it eagerly. Coupled with the technological singularity, the universe will be our playground. We will ride atoms like horses, cuddle with planets, wrap our arms around infinity. We will be free.

  6. Ben says:

    I’m a curious newbie to the dimorphism scene, looking for an open-minded partner.

    I guess I’m a bundle of contradictions: I love to wear bodies with external genitalia, but I’m a total ‘E’ when it comes to systematising/empathising play.

    I’m looking for something light and fun: I’d be interested in exploring a *gentle* privilege’n’patriarchy dynamic, but glass ceilings are a hard limit.

    Oh yeah, and if you’re going to message me and tell me how disgusting I am, spare me! This is all just fantasy and I’d never do this in real life.

    No bipeds, please. Not my thing.

  7. Mary says:

    I’ll keep this as short as possible and answer randomly!
    By looking at fashion in the long run we can clearly see the blurring gender lines. Skirts and dresses, as compared to pants and suits, were used to cage each respective gender (they’re so identifiable that I don’t even need to say which gender goes with which outfit!). Nowadays women wear pantsuits and men wear women’s cardigans (I’m looking at you Kanye West) and jeans (you too Bieber).
    Gender, as something defined by society, naturally shifts– what is womanly is always becoming acceptable for men and vice-versa. Gender as sexual organs is static unless you have medicine or genetic mutations.
    In its basest form, without any of the societal labels or obligations attached, being a man or a woman are two different experiences. Perhaps in the future wealthy humans will switch their gender depending on what sort of sexual experience they want that night, or some other petty thing like that.
    Individuals should be the only ones who choose their gender.

  8. prezzey / Bogi Takács says:

    I think gender and sexuality are going to become increasingly flexible with the progress of medical science, but that doesn’t mean they are going to become less important, or irrelevant. To the contrary, people tend to be especially attached to the identities they themselves choose – for example, people who convert to another religion tend to be more vocal about religion than people who stay with their parents’ religion.

    Yay Genderform already lists 947 different possibilities, and the list goes on… I think writers often manage to reinvent the wheel, and come up with groups intended to be fictional which already exist. (Not really gender-related, but the other day I even managed to find a story in this year’s Hugo crop which seemed to reinvent Asperger syndrome.) Worse still, the fictionalized group often ends up treated as inhuman in the story universe. I’m hesitant to link to TVTropes because it can eat up time like nothing else, but the Hermaphrodite page is a good example, featuring only a few realistic portrayals of intersexual characters and a lot of, um, alien porn or straight-up fetishism.

    A discussion on fictional gender might seem like a diversion from the future of gender, but what I’m trying to underline with it is that the future is already here, it just goes unnoticed by people who are not “early adopters”. As for whether gender should be manipulated purposefully, my answer is more or less the same – if it can be done, it will eventually be done, and in many cases, it has already been done!

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