First, my thanks to all of you who’ve purchased Innocents. My special thanks to those of you who’ve reviewed it at Amazon. My extra-super-interstellar thanks to those of you who’ve recommended it to others. Word-of-mouth is an indie writer’s best advertising. Indeed, it’s the only form of promotion my books receive.
Second, it’s time for me to provide the answers to some of the questions readers have sent me about the book, most of which begin with “Why?”
One reader wrote to ask “Why is Innocents so much shorter than your other novels?” And yes, for those unacquainted with my other novels, it’s the second shortest of all the novels I’ve published; only Love in the Time of Cinema is shorter.
This one is fairly easy. I’ve caused myself a lot of difficulties in the past by trying to control the length of a story. I have a feeling that a lot of writers do that, as we’re all aware that the “big hits” are almost always big books. You’ll seldom see a book at the top of the best-seller lists that’s less than 350 pages (approximately 100,000 words). Indeed, the average length of a best-selling novel is greater than that.
But to obsess over the length of a story is to demote the story itself to a secondary consideration. However much story there is, that’s what there is. I could not have extended Innocents beyond its existing length without packing it with filler: unsatisfying side crap that would have detracted from the impact of the story proper.
On the one hand, it’s a high compliment for a reader to write that “I only wish it were longer.” On the other, it’s a terrible temptation to the writer...one I’ve striven to resist.
Several readers have written to ask whether Innocents will have a sequel. This has me torn. The themes in the novel are all fairly well encapsulated there. What would I address in a sequel? Kevin Conway’s pursuit of the villains behind the production of futanari sex slaves? Well, yes, there’s an obvious adventure tale there, especially as a Yakuza organization capable of initiating a sub-business of that sort would be large and mighty. The Athene Academy connection might deserve more exploration as well, especially in light of that most unusual college’s involvement with Larry Sokoloff’s little problem.
The major problem here is coming up with a theme around which to wrap a sequel. I don’t write vanilla adventure, or vanilla anything else. I need an animating idea, some thesis about human nature and its consequences for human interaction, before I can get my condensers sufficiently charged to write a story. At the moment, I don’t have one.
But perhaps the previous sentence should be edited to read “I don’t have one...yet.”
The most stimulating of the questions I’ve received is one you might have been wondering about yourself: “Why did you write about this?” At this time, there are no “natural born” futanari. The genetics of the thing might just be impossible, non-viable. The only humans that fit the surface description – i.e., female in all externally perceptible ways except for the possession of male genitalia – were born as ordinary males and have made themselves futanari-like by surgical means. So there’s no demand for an Athene Academy, and Larry Sokoloff’s little problem isn’t a present-day possibility.
Or so you might assume!
It’s been observed many times that just about any English-language noun or verb, if prefixed or suffixed by “sex” and plugged into Google, will generate thousands of hits. Sex isn’t just the “oldest funny subject” (Robert A. Heinlein). It’s also the drive most widely shared by human beings of all ages , places, and times. You have to be very young, very old, or very unusual not to be interested in sex. That’s a big part of what made the following passage from Freedom’s Fury hit my readers so hard:
“May I ask a personal question, Claire?”
“Do you have someone special?”
The bioengineer looked at her quizzically. “No. Why do you ask?”
“Just curious. How long has it been?”
“Since...you know. Since there was someone special.”
Albermayer was slow to reply.
“There’s never been anyone like that for me, Althea.”
“What? Are you serious?”
“But you’re...you were in school with my grandfather Armand!”
“Yes, I was.”
“And you’ve never had a lover?”
Another long pause.
“I have no sex drive, Althea.” The words were drier than the dust between the stars. “I never have. I could never see the point of an intimate involvement, so I never formed one. I severely doubt one would have lasted.” Albermayer’s slight smile spoke of an isolation beyond Althea’s ken. She squeezed Althea gently, making the pumps in Althea’s suit whine. “This is the closest I’ve been to another person in more than a century....
“There’s something missing from me, Althea. At least, my parents thought so. I hear other people talk about their emotional attachments—I hear the passion in your voice when you speak of your husband, and in Nora’s when she talks of hers—and it’s like a glimpse into the mind of an alien species. I’ve never felt anything like that for anyone.
“I’ve been courted a few times. My suitors couldn’t decide what to make of my non-responsiveness. For my part, I never grasped their interest, what attracted them to me sufficiently to justify their efforts. I was always made slightly uncomfortable by that sort of attention, as if I were being told that something was expected of me that I simply couldn’t deliver.”
Sex isn’t about mere sensation. It isn’t about reproduction, though that’s its biological function. It’s about winning the most intimate form of acceptance from another person. Those who, for whatever reason, can no longer “perform” remember what it meant to attain that degree of intimacy. And they miss it and yearn for it.
That having been said, there are persons who have sexual or parasexual desires that diverge greatly from what the rest of us feel. Homosexuals. Polyamorists. Fetishists of various kinds. That bulging grab-bag labeled “polymorphously perverse.” Remember that bit about Google searches.
With an estimated 7.5 billion persons alive at this time, you can bet the rent money that there are persons whose deepest desire is for a futanari lover. Indeed, I can prove it: there’s a substantial “industry” dedicated to serving that desire. Many who are aware of it speak of it as a Southeast Asian phenomenon, but there’s an outcropping of it here in the United States as well.
So what would happen if some of those folks – the richer ones – were to look into whether it might be possible to have “lovers” made to order? Including the sort of conditioning poor helpless Fountain had to endure? Are you sure it’s impossible? More, are you certain the rest of us would ever learn about it?
But that’s only half of the reason for the story.
My two greatest reasons for writing, whether fiction or these interminable op-eds, are to promote Christian moral-ethical norms and to illustrate the importance of human freedom. Those are the fuels that power every last syllable I’ve written. Innocents and the “Athene Academy” stories are not exceptions.
On the one hand, I continue to believe that the “transgender” phenomenon is a fad that will soon burn itself out. There are very few persons whose emotional health genuinely requires a sex change. Moreover, it seems that quite a lot of transgender individuals regret having transitioned and are coming forward to say so. On the other hand, I’ve made the acquaintance of two transwomen who appear to have needed their transitions for their emotional well-being. It’s on that basis that I find myself unable to condemn the thing entirely.
Freedom must, by necessity, include the right to “make your own mistakes.” There is no alternative; else we would have no fundamental argument with the bien-pensants who’d very much like to rule us all, down to the smallest detail. Moreover, anyone can be wrong about anything, so posturing as an authority is a dangerous perch to mount. Falling from that sort of perch is rather humiliating.
Now add this:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother, Let me cast the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? [Matthew 7:1-4]
The Redeemer was pretty definite about it.
They whose choices we deplore are individuals with free will and souls of their own. We are not responsible for their choices; we are responsible for our behavior toward them. How much more, then, would we be required to respect, to love, and to protect those whose circumstances have been forced upon them? Futanari such as the students and staff of Athene Academy? Genetically engineered individuals such as Fountain?
I would agree that were we to discover an enterprise that deliberately turns out genetically engineered futanari, conditioned sex slaves, or a combination of the two, it would be morally imperative to stamp it out and salt the ground from which it sprang. But our proper attitude toward the products of such an enterprise, being humans with souls as valuable as yours or mine, would be quite another matter. Father Ray’s closing statements to Larry Sokoloff proceed from that conviction.
I see that once again I’ve gone on at greater length than I originally intended. It’s like the problem of the “lazy preacher” who writes long sermons: once he gets to writing, he’s too lazy to stop. But that’s what writers are like, and I’m a writer, so have a little pity.
A final thought: Time was, all fiction took the form of the play, and plays were categorized as follows:
- Miracle: The central element was some event that seems to contradict the laws of Nature.
- Mystery: The story turns on some inscrutable element of the Divine.
- Morality: The story concerns an aspect of morality and what happens when it’s disregarded.
I’m comfortable with giving Innocents any of those labels. One way or another, I hope it’s provided you with some food for thought.