A Glossary of Hazardous Cooties in Science Fiction

This book is known to contain the following varieties of cooties: girl, hard SF, military SF, male protagonist. Read with caution!

This book is known to contain the following varieties of cooties: girl, hard SF, military SF, male protagonist. Read with caution!

It’s dangerous out there, people. There are risks involved in reading the wrong sorts of science fiction, and while advice and counsel is available around the web, the time has come for a concise glossary of the most common debilitating parasitic memes, most frequently referred to as “cooties,” that are known to infect vulnerable readers. Knowledge is power. As a writer who has risked association with ALL listed varieties, I felt compelled to share my observations and experiences.

GIRL COOTIES
Found in: science fiction written by girls
Who’s at risk? boys
What happens if you catch them: possible loss of manhood generally through exposure to romance and excessive clothing descriptions; moderate risk to self-image in cases where female characters are not competing to win attention of male characters; possible nausea when female reproductive issues (non-coital varieties) are involved; in general, subversion by the alien female.

HARD SF COOTIES
Found in: science fiction that attempts to extrapolate from known science
Who’s at risk? girls
What happens if you catch them: possible loss of womanhood with severe risk of personality collapsing into cardboard, resulting in long-term loss of emotional empathy. Occasionally associated with right-wing conversions.

MILITARY SF COOTIES
Found in: science fiction about military service; rarely: found in association with Hard SF cooties.
Who’s at risk? girls and boys
What happens if you catch them: possible loss of empathy for those outside your unit, frequent development of might-makes-right approach to problem solving; reduction of color vision—in worst cases even shades of gray are lost.

FEMALE-PROTAGONIST COOTIES
Found in: science fiction with a female protagonist
Who’s at risk? boys
What happens if you catch them: Little-to-no risk has been found with the “kick ass” variety of female-protagonist cooties. For risks of other varieties, refer to the listing for girl cooties.

MALE-PROTAGONIST COOTIES
Found in: science fiction with a male protagonist
Who’s at risk? girls
What happens if you catch them: effects vary greatly. Some male-protagonist cooties are benign, some induce a severe allergic reaction. The most potent induce a hallucinogenic state wherein the victim comes to feel empathy for the alien other.

Warning: some science fiction is known to be infected with multiple species of cooties and should be considered especially hazardous. Read with caution!

Author

Share

Comments

A Glossary of Hazardous Cooties in Science Fiction — 8 Comments

  1. Over on Goodreads there was a brisk discussion about sexism in readers. Not writers, but readers. Is it OK to only read books written by men? Is it OK to only read books about men, because I hate to read about women and their focus upon shoes, dieting and fashion?

    • There is a lot of pre-judging going on, which of course is the point of this post. Good hard science fiction is not emotionless. Good military science fiction is not based on cliche. Good characters, female and male, come in many varieties. And some readers are more adventurous than others! I, for one, am very grateful for that. 🙂

    • It would be an interesting exercise in the publishing world (completely impractical of course, but hey, we can dream) if all books were initially released without identifying the author.

      I’m sure a lot of readers’ preconceived notions would be turned on their ear.

      • If I remember right, not too long ago a bookstore did a “mystery book” promotion, which I think involved wrapping books in blank covers, disguising both author and genre. That would make it a lot harder to book shop, but it’s kind of amusing to think about.

      • In theory, with the advent of e-books, such experiments could be made. You could push out the same book, with two separate covers, or with different versions of the author’s name (Carolyn Cherryh vs. C.J. Cherryh, that kind of thing) and see what happened at the sales counter.

  2. Pingback: » The OutRamp Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy: Episode #2 - The OutRamp