Wordy Wednesday – Ishmael in Love by Robert Silverberg
If I see one more story – I mean it, just one more – that has anything to do with humans wanting to fuck dolphins, or dolphins wanting to fuck humans, I am seriously going to flip my lid.
I got a bunch of short story collections, and a handful of ‘World’s Best Science Fiction’ compilations were involved. I read the 1971 edition, and there’s a story in there called “Ishmael in Love” by Robert Silverberg. Guess what it’s about?
If you said “Dolphin fucking!” then I hope no one heard you. But you’d be right.
I really don’t get it. A dolphin looks like a fish. Fins, beady eyes, strange mouth. How is any of that attractive? Is it because when dolphins swim it looks like they’re humping their ways through the water? Is it their speech, which is comprised entirely of alien clicks, terrible screeching, and drawn-out groans?
I don’t see it. Dolphins are gross, and also animals. Inhuman monsters, basically. They live their lives in a world so foreign to humans that we can’t even begin to comprehend it.
I wonder if science fiction literature that focuses on humans and dolphins fucking (or wanting to fuck) is some kind of statement on contemporary sexual mores. But I’m just suspicious that the authors want to fuck dolphins, and they want other people to approve of their vile dolphin-lust.
See, when sci-fi books have human/alien sexual encounters, it doesn’t bother me in the least. Captain Kirk goes to town on some greenies? Cool. Not a problem. Heinlein has a bunch of sex in his sci-fi, even if most of it is human only. Heinlein wrote the story about the guy who is tricked by his future self, who has had a sex change, into having sex with himself, so that he is his own mother and father. I think I’m remembering that correctly. I’m working on memory here, but that’s just about as weird as any human-alien boning you’ll find. Maybe weirder.
So sci-fi doesn’t shy away from weird sex stuff. But man, I cannot get past this dolphin shit. I don’t like it; there’s this deep streak of discomfort that runs to my core every time I read one of these stories. Also – I hate that there are multiple stories about human-dolphin fucking. Remember Startide Rising? I do. It was my initiation into the dark world of dolphin-human sex sci-fi.
Granted, I read mostly older sci-fi, rarely anything more recent than 1995. But what is this dolphin fucking craze about?
Anyway, the story is actually about a dolphin called Ishmael who wants to have sex with his trainer, Lisabeth. Ishmael is a low-intelligence dolphin who helps keep some sea vents clear for some kind of installation. Who cares, the story is actually about dolphins and humans and the two having sex. But when Ishmael finally confesses his love for Lisabeth, she laughs at him, so he gets angry and leaves.
That’s about it. Oh, we know it’s love because Ishmael lets us know that he doesn’t think the primary attributes of Lisabeth are good – in fact, he spends a lot of time talking about her breasts and how they slow her down in the water. This is poor design, and, as Ishmael says, he is “incapable of finding poor design beautiful in any way.” So he’s not just a creepy pervert dolphin, he comes off as an asshole too.
Oh, and when he does tell her that he loves her, he also gets carried away because he feels “true passion, the kind of which the poets sing” and ends up almost drowning her as he ‘embraces’ her.
I hated everything about this story and I wish animal-fucking sci-fi would stop happening to me. Is this another part of the gypsy’s curse? I thought it was only that I could never go see a movie in a theater without someone near me talking the whole time, but maybe the curse is broader and more subtle than that.