When I see something I think is wrong or misleading, I protest. As of now, I protest against some of the statements in the review of my novel FLESH in Volume 15, Number 12 of Science-Fiction Times. Specifically, I protest that the reviewer is wrong when he says that FLESH has a science-fiction background hanging by less than a mere spider's web. If the reveiwer knew anything at all about anthropology and knew of the works of Mead, Benedict, Frazer, Malinowski, Taylor, Burton, Calas, Kroeber, Kluckhohn and especially of Robert Graves, he would not say that FLESH had no science-fiction background. Unless, that is, he denies that anthropolgy (cultural) and the studies of ancient pre-Indo-European religions are scienctific. The novel derives directly from the authors mentioned. It takes place in the future and depicts a society which, for valid reasons, has built up a fertility-Mother & Goddess-worshipping religion which is unconsciously based on the concepts held by ancient Mediterranean peoples and influenced by contempory environment and the cataclysmic events preceding the foundation of the 29th-century society. I refer you to Frazer and Graves' works for the pattern of life lead by the protagonist of FLESH.
I also assert that the novel is sexual, not sexy, and there is a great difference between depicting raw primal sex diverted into ritual and cosmology and throwing in so-called "sexy" scenes. For a review by a literate critic who perceived what the novel was about, I refer you to the SCIENCE AND FANTASY column by H.H. Holmes in the Herald Tribune Book Review -- May 29, 1960.
Like you, I am against sex in s-f, or in any type of fiction, if it is thrown in just to attract a certain category of reader. But if the sexual-theme is the basis of the story, if the story speculates about sex in future times, why deny that the story is s-f? Do you think our sexual mores haven't changed during the past sixty years or that they won't change in the future or that they haven't alwasy been changing? Totem and taboo; totem and taboo. Old totems topple; new ones are being erected. Why sneer at the conservative who wants us to put out money into building more roads instead of financing space explorations and yet reacts as the conservative does when that greatest taboo of all, Sex, is dealt with in an extrapolative story?
I'm not responsible for other Beacon S-F novels or what titles Beacon attaches to my novels. But I can tell you that if they insert "sexy" scenes into my books, they'll hear a squawk. So far, they've had to expurgate the two books I gave them. Why? Because the wxpurgated parts were sexual, not sexy.
I want to stress that I'm not objecting because anybody might think the story was no good or had flaws in it. I'm objecting to the statement that FLESH didn't have a solid s-f theme.
Philip Jose Farmer