Jonah Bergan on Off World ~ Blog Tour, Guest Blog, Rafflecopter Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Jonah Bergan for stopping by today.

Off-World-Full-Front-Cover

Title: Off World
Author: Jonah Bergan
Publisher: Booktrope
Cover Artist: Michelle Fairbanks
Genre: Action/Adventure, Gay Fiction, Science Fiction

Blurb:

What really brought Taine to that backwater little world? Taine’s a hunter. He’s a red-skinned, black-eyed Lowman by nature, and a hunter by trade. Some hunters work in flesh, others in secrets, and some few work to set right what’s been set wrong. It’s a big galaxy and there’s always plenty of work for a hunter like Taine, so you got to wonder, what with all that at his feet, what really brought Taine to that backwater little world?

Off-World is a M/M science fiction action/adventure set in F/M dominated space. The story takes place in an arm of the galaxy where slavery (sexual and otherwise) is legal and commonplace. Strictly speaking, it is not a BDSM novel in that consent is not a matter of concern for the characters, but those with an interest in BDSM should enjoy the story. Due to explicit content, Off-World is not recommended to readers under eighteen years of age.

Sexuality in Storytelling

I recently posted an article at Queerscifi.com asking the question: “Why does it Matter if a Character is Gay? I originally wrote the article because within the greater science fiction community, there is a tendency for the question to be asked with a dismissive tone, and whether the tone is intentional or unintentional, it is an attempt to dismiss the issue—to dismiss it on the grounds that science fiction isn’t *about* sexuality. My rebuttal to that argument is that sexuality is a part of character and character is always an intrinsic part of story—it is the vehicle of story itself. So yes, I absolutely agree that sexuality need not be the sole focus of a story, but I also think that it does need to be mentioned and discussed—even foreshadowed if you will. The sexuality of heterosexual characters is typically a part of the exposition, after all. Isn’t it? It is sometimes integral to the plot too.

To illustrate my point, let’s imagine an action/adventure story—something like Indiana Jones. In a marketplace, somewhere near Kuala Lumpur, the lead character is in a battle with the minions of the villain. There’s a crowd, it’s an action packed scene; chickens and goats are scattering as the fight proceeds through the marketplace, people are shouting, some encouraging the lead character, others helping or hindering the minions. Still, the protagonist is the superior fighter, he has the upper hand and he’s likely to win, when suddenly… he sees a beautiful woman in the crowd. She’s stunning—gorgeous! He stops, distracted and fully taken by her beauty, thus giving the minions the opportunity to bop him on the head, knocking him out… Perhaps later we learn that she works for the villain? Perhaps the villain was well aware of the lead’s weakness for beautiful women? In any case, it’s a part of the makeup of the character. It impacts the story, influences and turns it. It helps the writer advance the story. As a result of this scene, you come to know the character’s sexuality and preferences don’t you?

Naturally the reader would be surprised, and perhaps even confused if it were a beautiful man that distracted our lead, so a certain amount of exposition regarding the lead’s sexuality is necessary. Of course, in this example, I’m proposing that the lead is a man, but what if he is a she? She could still be named Indiana, (or Nevada, or whatever) but in a novel or short story wouldn’t we need to know that she was a she?

My point is that, like gender, the exposition of the sexuality of a character is sometimes required in fiction. When it’s done well, we barely notice it. It isn’t the subject of the story, but it is a part of the story. Did Nevada’s wife or husband die? Is that why it was so difficult for the wizened professor to get Nevada to accept the mission to travel to Kuala Lumpur? Is that why Nevada has become a recluse? Whatever the premise of the story, in the end it is about the character, and the character must overcome whatever trials, challenges and obstacles that stand between them and their goal. Being gay and finding acceptance needn’t be rendered as an obstacle in every story. Yes, there is room for those stories, but I firmly believe that coming of age tales shouldn’t be the sum of our stories. Rather, just as in life; the full scope of experience is available to us. So yes, a Starship Captain can be gay, and the story needn’t be about him (or her) being gay. So can a boat captain and an action hero and if you really want to go out on a limb, even a Klingon can be gay. Just as is true with our character’s heterosexual counterparts, it is what our character does with all of who they are that make them a good and even beloved character.

The hero is the character who overcomes whatever

We see that sort of exposition in films and books all the time, but we don’t notice it because of what I call the assumption of heterosexuality. Interestingly enough, some of the people who read the original article thought I was speaking exclusively about a reader’s assumption of heterosexuality, but I wasn’t. That same assumption applies to writers.

Of late we’ve begun to encounter gay characters in stories. M/M and F/F romance novels are quickly becoming a genre all of thier own.But should Gay characters appear only in Romance novels? Is it a given that our relationships are so unusual that the mere mention of our sexuality in any other genre automatically constitutes a shift away from that genre and into Romance? I encountered this difficulty when I published Off-World.

What category does it belong in? I can tell you that it’s Science Fiction. It has elements from other Genres–a m/m relationship, some explicit sexuality, and some elements of Dominance and Submission, and some darker themes as well, but the story is more than those elements alone. It’s Science Fiction, but it’s more than Science Fiction too–at least that’s what I reached for when I wrote it.

To illustrate this I imagine an action/adventure story–something like Indiana Jones. The lead character is in a battle with the minions of the villian. There’s a crowd, It’s action packed; chickens and goats scattering as the fight proceeds through the marketplace, people are shouting, some encouraging the lead character, others helping the minions. Still, the protagonist is the superior fighter, he has the upper hand and he’s likely to win, when suddenly… he sees a beautiful woman in the crowd. She’s stunning–gorgeous! He stops, distracted and fully taken by her beauty, thus giving the minions the opportunity to bop him on the head, knocking him out… Perhaps later we learn that she works for the villian? Perhaps the villian was well aware of the leads weakness for beautiful women? In any case, it’s a part of the makeup of the character. IT impacts the story, influences and turn it. 

Naturally the reader would be surprised, and perhaps even confused if it were a beautiful man that distracted him, so a certain amount of exposition regarding the leads sexuality is necessary. Of course, in this example, I’m assuming that the lead is a man, what if he is a she. She could still be named Indiana, (or Nevada, or whatever) but wouldn’t we need to know that she was a she? Wouldn’t we also need to know her preferences for this later scene to make sense?

Within the science fiction community, there is a tendency for the question “Why does it matter if a character is gay” to be asked with a dismissive tone, and whether the tone is intenional or unintentional, it is an attempt to dismiss the issue–to dismiss it on the grounds that science fiction isn’t *about* sexuality. My rebuttal to that is that sexuality is a part of character and character is always an intriniscic part of story–it is the purpose of story itself. So yes, I absolutely agree that sexuality need not be the sole focus of a story, but I also thinnk it does need to be mentioned and discussed–even foreshadowed if you will.

Steve Allen once did a routine where he sang “Me and My Gal,” but changed the lyrics to: “me and my person of indeterminate gender.” One could argue that it was an “inclusive” version of the song. One could also argue that it was an attempt to derride efforts toward equality.I don’t  think it was either. I think it was intended to be funny, and it was funny, and I think it poked fun at the frustration some people were feeling about diversity at the time.

-Jonah

Links

Off World on Goodreads

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble

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About the Author

Jonah Bergan is a freelance writer living in New England. His publishing credits include a ten part serial, multiple short stories, and a collection of anecdotal humor. He has also published MMORPG game reviews and content, hypnosis scripts, online user manuals, and advertising texts. Please visit jonahbergan.com to learn more about him.

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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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5 thoughts on “Jonah Bergan on Off World ~ Blog Tour, Guest Blog, Rafflecopter Giveaway

  1. Jonah

    Nicely said.

    I get this question from my hubs and my extended family. Not so much in a negative way, but in the, why not just right a non-gay book. My answer is pretty much, that the book isn’t gay, but the main character is and that it is just like any other SFF book except the MC is gay, not straight. But it’s not an orgy filled Bacchanalia either. As you say, the sexuality of the character is part of the character. Just because the MC is gay, doesn’t make the book a ‘gay book.’

    -AQG

  2. I love sci-fi and when romance is presented at all I never really question the gender as long as the story keeps moving everything is less important. But now that I’m thinking about we don’t often see a gender fluid character that manages to catch the eye of the main character (but again the focus is the story not the sexual orientation of the main character).

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