dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

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dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby aunts1384 on May 30th, 2011, 12:19 pm 

Currently I am working on a story in which the main characters are dual sexed, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs, fully functioning. Their planet actually has three sexes; male, female, and what I'm calling mani. What I'm trying to figure out is the specifics (hypothetically) of the mani reproductive cycle, as well as the physical appearance. Would they have a monthly cycle similar to that of a female, or would the testosterone production in thier bodies interfere with said cycle? Any suggestions would be more than welcome and very carefully considered. Thanks.
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Re: dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby xcthulhu on May 30th, 2011, 1:20 pm 

aunts1384 wrote:Currently I am working on a story in which the main characters are dual sexed, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs, fully functioning. Their planet actually has three sexes; male, female, and what I'm calling mani. What I'm trying to figure out is the specifics (hypothetically) of the mani reproductive cycle, as well as the physical appearance. Would they have a monthly cycle similar to that of a female, or would the testosterone production in thier bodies interfere with said cycle? Any suggestions would be more than welcome and very carefully considered. Thanks.


Neat idea.

The aphid's reproductive cycle is similar to what you are describing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphid#Reproduction

There's also this recent thread where we discussed this (and I, like a broken record, mentioned aphids):
http://philosophychatforum.com/viewtopi ... 37&t=18828
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Re: dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby aunts1384 on May 30th, 2011, 1:37 pm 

Thanks for the advice...I read that thread earlier and checked out the wikipedia site too, but being the arrogant human being that I am, I'm assuming intelligent design in the universe and that any intelligent species other than us will be at least somewhat humanoid, at least for the purposes of this story. Of course you're probably assuming the same and are just smarter than I am and are able to make a correlation between aphid and human reproductive cycles that I'm just not seeing. I get the idea o parthenogenisis, but other than that I'm lost.
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Re: dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby xcthulhu on May 30th, 2011, 2:33 pm 

aunts1384 wrote:Of course you're probably assuming the same and are just smarter than I am and are able to make a correlation between aphid and human reproductive cycles that I'm just not seeing. I get the idea o parthenogenisis, but other than that I'm lost.


Well, I don't see any correlation between aphid and human reproductive cycles. It's just that aphids have a reproductive cycle with 3 sorts of genders, and if you decided to use them in your story it would add a touch of realism. Are you writing soft science fiction or hard science fiction?

Taking inspiration from nature isn't a new idea in sci-fi. The movie Alien was inspired by parasitic wasp reproductive cycles. I don't know if you've read Larry Niven's Ringworld novels, but he also has aliens with "three" genders. He calls them Pierson's Puppeteers, and they're like parasitic wasps too.

Here's how the three genders would work if you modeled them after aphids. In the "spring" and "summer" (which maybe lasts for a century if your aliens have human lifespans), the species would primarily have two genders that reproduce sexually, then in the "fall" and "winter" the species would reproduce primarily through parthenogenesis.
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Re: dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby aunts1384 on May 30th, 2011, 2:54 pm 

I would definitely classiy my sci-fi writing as soft. While I have a relatively high IQ, I also have some serious gaps in my education and am by no means an expert in any field, except maybe changing adult diapers. Writing is more an avocation than a vocation, obviously. Had I had a more stable childhood I might have been more successful in life, but as it is now I'm just trying to learn on my own and fill in those aforementioned gaps. I'm sorry if I'm wasting your time, it's just that I've had this idea in my head now for three years and it will not leave me alone. As to your seasonal explanation, thanks. That makes a lot more sense to me now.
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Re: dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby Paralith on May 30th, 2011, 3:22 pm 

The nice thing about fiction is that it's fiction. You can make up whatever you'd like so long as it's not SO ridiculous that your readers would say "What! That's impossible" and put the book down.

Besides, any time you make highly humanoid aliens, you've long passed the boundaries of reality. However, if your main characters aren't human enough, human readers will have trouble identifying with and being interested in them. So it's a sacrifice you make in order to have alien characters that human readers will love.

I would ask, do they have to be aliens? They could be human descendants who've lived on their own planet for centuries and have evolved to be different than most other humans, or have genetically modified themselves for one reason or another.

If you want to know how testosterone and estrogen effect human bodies, there's plenty of research out there on the topic. In particular, transgender individuals who were born as one sex but are going through hormone therapy to become more like the other, could provide you with some insight.
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Re: dual/intersex individuals for science fiction research

Postby aunts1384 on May 30th, 2011, 3:46 pm 

I have considered making my intersexed characters human instead of alien, but I've been a little hesitant to do so given the current prejudices of today. I thought that it might be easier for people to take if they had a degree of separation and didn't identify so much with my characters. Maybe I'm not giving my fellow people enough credit, though. Thanks for the tip on transgender individuals, I hadn't thought about that. They may have to be more like aphids with seasonal sexes than I initially thought, considering the fact that people who go through hormone therapy use one hormone to reduce another. It might be easier to write if I do take more artistic license and less of a critical eye.
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