Jul 14 2012 1:00pm

Top 5 Hot Sex Scenes in SF/F

Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem by Lois McMaster BujoldEveryone loves a good sex scene—right? The challenge was made to select the top 5 hot sex scenes in a variety of genres. I chose SF/F, and as you might imagine, it was tricky settling on five memorable sex scenes in all of science fiction and fantasy. Since this a romance blog, I finally decided to make my choices from sex scenes that can be compared and contrasted to the various sorts of sex in romance novels.

5. “Labyrinth” by Lois McMaster Bujold (1989)

“Labyrinth” is a novella originally published in Analog, that was later included in the collection Borders of Infinity, and is currently available in Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem. Hero Miles Vorkosigan is trying to find his way out of what is essentially a mad scientist’s lab when he encounters an eight-foot-tall genetically engineered creature with claws and fangs. The creature, called only “Nine,” turns out to be both intelligent and female; and before she will let Miles live, she asks him to prove that he sees her as other than a monster, by making love to her.

Isn’t that the plot of quite a number of romance novels? Miles rescues her after their encounter; thereafter named Taura, she appears several more times in the series as a secondary character.

Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey4. Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey (1971)

This one is not really hot, but I’ve never forgotten it. The sex scene was between F’nor and Brekke. I learned in college that I was not the only one who had memorized it, and it became a punchline on quite a number of occasions.

I’ll quote it in its entirety. “He wasn’t gentle but he was thorough, and, in the end, Brekke astounded him with a surrender as passionate as if her dragon had been involved.”

“He wasn’t gentle but he was thorough.” Ohhh-kaaay. I’ve read romances that remind me inexorably of this phrase, even to this day.

The Book of Tongues by Gemma Files3. A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files (2010)

A Book of Tongues is dark historical fantasy, first in the Hexslinger series, which features a male/male pairing in an alternate American West of the nineteenth century. The characters Reverend Asher Rook and Chess Pargeter are completely devoted to each other to the point that both Rook and Chess will and do kill anyone who even attempts to harm his partner. Their viciousness is charming at the same time that it’s horrible.

They don’t seem destined for a happy ending because Rook cannot resist his quest for more magical power, even if it harms Chess, but then again Chess kills people and laughs…it’s complicated.

The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas2. The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas (1980)

I recommend this book every chance I get. The titular vampire, Edward Weyland, is not a traditional fictional vampire; he’s either an alien being or the sole creature of his species. He hunts human blood via a piercing organ stored beneath his tongue; he’s a parasite more than a murderer, using charm to seduce his prey for the most part, though he will murder to protect himself.

The book, or rather collection of short pieces, shows Weyland from several different points of view, each one illuminating in a different way. Partway through, we see him through the eyes of his therapist, who believes he is a human with the delusion that he’s a vampire. Weyland forms a relationship with her, his first of any kind with a human on an equal or near-equal basis. But their relationship is not at all romantic; Weyland is a predator who can never be otherwise; this is demonstrated most clearly when the two actually have sex and it becomes clear just how emotionally alienated he must be from his prey. In his case, sex does not open emotional doors.

The Forbidden Tower by Marion Zimmer Bradley1. The Forbidden Tower by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1977)

I chose this novel for the top spot because it has both a foursome and the sniffing of psychoactive flowers. Given that I first read this book when I was fifteen or so, it stuck in my mind.

The main characters include two heterosexual married couples, all of them telepaths. One of the men, Damon, is a native of the planet of Darkover, where the story takes place; the other, Andrew, comes from Earth. The women, Callista and Ellemir, are Darkovan twins. One of the twins, Callista, was trained to use her telepathy in such a way that she cannot touch other humans physically. The story follows their attempts, with many setbacks, to overcome this training so she can live a normal life. So they drop acid, I mean sniff flowers, and everything works out okay.

I sort of feel now that I should listen to Jefferson Airplane when I re-read, but I’m also a bit afraid to re-read this book. Still, it was one of my favorites in my teens, and it definitely made an impression on me; not so much the foursome scene, but the long slow building up of the relationships among these four characters as they face problems and setbacks but are rewarded in the end. That type of story remains one of my favorite kinds of romance, as well.


What are the scenes you best remember, and why? Let the discussion begin!



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Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War One-set Spice Brief, May 2012, is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. jsmom2
Oh, bravo, for F'Nor and Brekke. Their storyline was the first time I ever cried reading a SF.

F'lar and Lessa were my first romance power couple :) Their first flight is quite memorable as well.
2. KateNagy
Holy coincidence, Batman! I just wrote about Brekke and F'nor's, um, first congress this morning for a piece I'm working on for another site. "Not gentle but thorough" stuck with me through the years, too -- it elegantly and succinctly describes pretty much every deflowering (defloration?) scene written in the 70s. Glad to see I'm not alone.
3. akajill
I remember that scene in The Forbidden Tower. I was absolutely devoted to the entire Darkover series as a teenager and simply could not believe that scene when I read it. It's stuck with me all these years too...
Victoria Janssen
4. VictoriaJanssen
I'm loving the comments on this so far - I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers some of these!
5. alixsin
In Julie Czerneda's The Company of Others, there's an intensely charged scene between the two main characters (Aaron and Gail) who have fallen for each other but cannot even touch. He was born on a planet infested by an alien life-form (which has made all terraformed worlds uninhabitable by humanity). Touch causes him excruciating pain and can be fatal to the other party. So they can look but not touch, and in this scene, they do.
6. alixsin
Oops: Title is "In the Company of Others."
Victoria Janssen
7. VictoriaJanssen
@alixsin, that sounds intriguing! I've read other Czerneda, but not that one.
Heather Rizzuti
8. heatherbartley
I always remembered the 1st sex scene between Rowan and Michael in The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. The book as a whole was rather weird, crazy, and dark, but that scene was sweet. Michael found Rowan, a doctor with special powers who had previously saved his life. Michael had the power to see the history of objects when he touched them, so he always wore gloves. However, he discovered he could touch Rowan with no ill effects.
Becky Hantsbarger
9. BeckyIA
C.J. Cherryh's "Foreigner" series comes to mind when the topic is alien/human sex. Bren and his body guard...of course, I can't think of her name right now! "The Witching Hour" is another of my favorites too. And F'lar and Lessa too. Oh my! So many I haven't thought out in years!
Adria Kovaly
10. CopperPayne
F'lar and Lessa all the way, though the depiction of it in the comic book version of it that I had at the time sticks out for me more than the actual novel. Still, McCaffrey's pairings are amazing. Can't rightly think of any others that stuck with me that fall under this particular category. I'll have to think on it more.
11. Elf M. Sternberg
In Scott Westerfeld (yes, the YA author)'s novel "Evolution's Darling," there's an amazing sex scene between the robot character Darling, and a woman he's just met aboard a starship. It's raw and direct and greatly illustrates the otherness of the characcters in relationship to the reader.

The same can be said of the m/m scene in Greg Egan's "Schild's Ladder," where the recently bodily incorporated AI tries to make it with the man he's been intellectually attracted for months. He ends up on the floor, laughing and saying, "That's what you monkeys get all worked up about?"
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