A lalitha's uterus contains ova, the genes of which are duplicated in the bodies of microscopic wrigglers formed in the giant salivary glands in a lalitha's mouth. These wrigglers - salivary ova - are continually released by the adult.In 1952 a 34-year-old science fiction writer broke one of the genre's taboos: he wrote a story where not only a human and an alien fall in love, but they have sex (the female alien even has an orgasm!), and we get a description of alien reproduction. It seems pretty tame by today's standards, but it won Philip José Farmer a Hugo award for "Most Promising New Talent". The story was republished in novel form in 1961, and Farmer's career was off and running.
The adult lalitha pass genes by means of these invisible creatures; they infect each other as if the carriers of heredity were diseases. They cannot escape it; a kiss, a sneeze, a touch, will do it.
Meanwhile, the first wrigglers she is exposed to have made their way through the bloodstream, the intestinal tract, the skin, boring, floating, until they arrive at the uterus of the host.
There, the salivary ovum unites with the uterine ovum. Fusion of the two produces a zygote. At this point, fertilization is suspended. True, all genetic data needed to produce a new lalitha is provided. All except the genes for the specific features of the face of the baby. This data will be given by the male human lover of the lalitha.
Not, however, until the conjunction of two more events. These two must occur simultaneously. One is excitation by orgasm. The other is stimulation of the photokinetic nerves. One cannot take place without the other. Neither can the last two come about unless the first happens. Apparently, fusion of the two ova causes a chemical change in the lalitha which then makes her capable or orgasm and fully develops the photokinetic nerves.
The photokinetic nerves are the exclusive property of the lalitha. They run from the retina of the eye, along with the optic nerves, to the brain. But the photokinetic nerves descend to the spinal column and leave its base to enter the uterus. The uterus is not that of the human female. Do not even compare them. You might say that the lalitha uterus is the dark room of the womb. Where the photograph of the father's face is biologically developed.
~ The Lovers by Philip José Farmer
My introduction to Farmer was when I picked up the first Riverworld novel, To Your Scatted Bodies Go, at some time in the late 1980s. It's a great concept: somewhere, somehow, every adult human who ever lived - up until the mid-1980s if I recall correctly - is resurrected in young healthy bodies on a planet consisting of one long river and bit of shoreline. That meant that humans from any era could meet and interact - Sir Richard Burton, Mark Twain, Prince John, Hermann Göring, Lewis Carroll's real Alice and many other well-known figures share adventures along the river. I eventually read all five of the novels in the series, which pretty much burned me out on Farmer's writing.
I've read a number of his short works, and honestly, a lot of them don't do much for me. They often read like old-fashioned pulp fiction, only set in the future and with lots of sex. The future and sex I like, but the pulp fiction not so much. However, even though I don't count Farmer among my favorite authors, it's clear that he has left a lasting mark on the genre.
Farmer died on February 25 at the age of 91. Make he reawaken on a Riverworld!
There are links to more remembrances at the Official Philip Jose Farmer website.
Tags:Philip Jose Farmer, obituary