The Humanity Experiment was supposed to be out in 2016, wasn’t it? And this is 2017 already, isn’t it? What happened?
Well, aside from the usual delays that come about from the vagaries of real life, where there is a lot going on, there is a lot going on in the story. Heck, we have matter simulations, reality experiments, a thought transducer, precognition and telepathy, an evil galactic empire (there’s always an evil galactic empire), third- and fifth-order wands, bizarre aliens, saturation plasma bombing, ancient artifacts with mysteries to go with them, inter-dimensional transport, unseen forces, an impossible entity called Companion, synthetic human consciousness, torture, intergalactic teleportation, battleships, traitors, ghosts, near-death experiences, jimimbas, children who appear and disappear, the Plekton Key, and love. But all that’s easy.
When people fall in love, however, it often leads to sex. That, normall, is pretty easy, too. I don’t write much sex because by itself it doesn’t make for much of a story, and when it does make a story, it’s not my kind of story. I have zero interest in reading Fifty Shades of Grey, so it’s not likely I would have ever written it. Still, I’ve known since my initial conception of the series that this would be the book with most of the sex in it.
The inter-species romance in A Hierarchy of Gods gave me no trouble because the Trarsani, for all their differences, see love and sex pretty much the same way humans do, so once you overcome any anatomical challenges, it’s smooth sailing. But the Kyattoni…. Hold onto your ever-loving hat! Here we have a race who have multiple sexual partners but are lifetime monogamous, who don’t clearly distinguish between adult and child because they have no life event matching puberty, who have multiple kinds of orgasms, whose names are broken down to signal different combinations of intimacy and pregnancy. We have Erik and Jaxidreshny, but we also have Jaxidreshny’s kid sister Triknikanthy, which makes Erik and Triknikanthy girl-linked bond-siblings, and that’s a whole adventure in itself. When a human says, “it’s complicated”, they’re usually trying to get out of something. To a Kyattoni, it really is complicated. And for a human trying to understand it…. Poor guy! The ethics Erik learned growing up human are at best useless, and sometimes harmful.
On the other hand, it’s not just the sex. As Triknikanthy explains,
“…but even so it’s not really about the sex. Well, it is, but…. Most TKK species can separate sex from love.” She looked into his eyes for a moment in a strange, alien kind of union that transmitted messages he couldn’t understand. “We can’t.”
Love is a paraphysical quantity, Jaxidreshny tells him, constant under a certain set of philosophical transforms, something real, not just an experience. Love is love across the universe, but Kyattoni bond-love turns up the gain on that to superhuman levels. There is an awful lot for the lovers to work out between them as they come to understand each other, and as the writer, I have to work all that out too.
Yes, The Humanity Experiment is written. It has been for a few years. Over those years it has been through more revision passes than I can keep count of. I don’t want it to be merely written, I want it written right. I have page after page after page of documentation from anatomical drawings to sexual terminology, from psychobiology to social structures, and I’m still not confident I have all the loose ends accounted for. I hate loose ends. I’ve run across inter-species sex before in science fiction, but most of it stops at “That’s exotic!” Oh, the angle is different and she has too many teeth (I forget what book that was), but no investigation into what happens when fundamental biology, psychology, and culture were never intended to mesh. Sarek and Amanda have it easy by comparison.
But never fear; I’m still working on it. As you can see, I’ve done more than a little 3D modelling and composition. It might be a little late, but I’m hoping the wait is worth it.