cover image Alien Sex

Alien Sex

Ellen Datlow. Dutton Books, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-24863-7

Sex in science fiction is far from conventional: it can take place between humans and extraterrestrials, by telepathy or by proxy. But as this remarkable collection shows, sex in the best sci-fi serves the same purposes as it does in mainstream fiction--exploring and illuminating the human condition. As Datlow, fiction editor of Omni , points out in her introduction, these 18 stories and one poem are `` really about . . . how male and female humans so often see each other as `alien.' '' Some writers adopt a lighthearted approach to the battle of the sexes--Larry Niven's classic look at Superman's sexuality, ``Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex''; Harlan Ellison's polymorphously perverse ``How's the Night Life on Cissalda?'' Others, like K. W. Jeter and Lewis Shiner, take a far bleaker view of human sexuality and relationships. Most effective are Connie Willis's ``All My Darling Daughters,'' a tough look at child abuse; Pat Murphy's ``Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates,'' a melancholic post-doomsday reverie; Jeter's ``The First Time''; and Bruce McAllister's ``When the Fathers Go''--the high point of the anthology--a complex look at love and deception. (May)