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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When worlds collide: gays in space, or how to deal with zero-g glitter bombs


Tina Nguyen in Vanity Fair, May 27, 2016:
Perhaps he thought no one would pay attention to his floor speech—it was only days before the Congress would go on their Memorial Day vacations—but Republican congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas decided to give a dire warning about the perils of gay people in space. 
In the middle of a Thursday speech on the House floor, Gohmert, who once proclaimed that gay-rights activists were like Nazis, suddenly started talking about the film The Martian, in which Matt Damon’s astronaut character gets stranded on Mars and is forced to survive there for nearly two years. 
Posing a hypothetical doomsday situation, with, say, “an asteroid coming, something that would end humanity on Earth, as dinosaurs were ended at one time. O.K., we’ve got a spaceship that can go, as Matt Damon did in the movie, plant a colony somewhere. We can have humans survive this terrible disaster about to befall. If you could decide what 40 people you put on the spacecraft that would save humanity, how many of those would be same-sex couples?” (The implication, of course, being that they would not want to have children.) 
Saying that such a situation would make the government “a modern-day Noah,” Gohmert appealed to Congress’s collective reason: “How many same-sex couples would you take from the animal kingdom and from humans to put on a spacecraft to perpetuate humanity and the wildlife kingdom?”
Author Steven Merritt, interviewed in The Los Angeles Review of Books:
I’d like to hear more about [scifi author Ursula K.] Le Guin. 
First of all, her father was an ethnographer. And she is definitely her father’s daughter, in that she is a brilliant ethnographer, who happens to have chosen, often, science fiction as her medium — but even in her nonfiction books, she is an expert … Ethnography is her major focus. In writing about imaginary groups of people, she is a science fiction ethnographer. 
I loved The Dispossessed as a kid, though The Left Hand of Darkness was considered the best of her novels. 
I am about to read The Word for World Is Forest. The idea of space travel privileging homosexuality really struck me as a child. Perfectly practical and nifty idea. Why shouldn’t there be something that gay people are more suited for? 
That is interesting. 
Reproduction in space travel is a really bad idea. So gay people are the way to go.

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