Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Future Morals & Rules of Decorum by Pippa Jay

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay - author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. When you choose a female demon notorious for seducing men in order to steal their health - even their life - as a template for your heroine, the idea of her having any kind of morality doesn't seem logical. Especially when you then make her a genetically-enhanced assassin whose method of dispatch is to kill those she seduces.

From Wikipedia - “Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good or right and those that are bad, evil or wrong.”

One of the things I wanted to explore with my scifi romance Tethered was the question of morality. Specifically, sex and physical relationships between two fundamentally opposing future societies, despite them sharing a common ancestry. With rape culture, the questioning of the exact definition of consent, and the persistence in victim blaming and shaming an everyday occurrence in our modern society, you have to wonder about current day morality, and if it will ever get any better.

When I first began the story, all I had was the idea of using a supernatural being, a succubus. Since a succubus is a man-seducing demon, it followed that she wouldn't have the same morality as we'd recognize it, perhaps. What's more, I made my succubus heroine an assassin, one who kills through sex, so at least her targets are unresisting and 'die in ecstasy'. (there might also be a little Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye, James Bond - in Tyree's inspirational make-up)

In Tethered, the central characters express two very differing views on sexual morality and physical relationships/boundaries between partners. For Tyree, it's almost impossible for her to have any hang ups or morals when it comes to sex. By her very nature, she considers it such an essential part of her being that she doesn't believe she can behave in any other way, and sees nothing wrong in it. Tyree actually revels in her ability to seduce her victims and make them die in ecstasy. It's not just what she does, it's all about what she is. And since all her race are clones, there’s no need for sex for procreation, though sometimes it’s done for sheer release among their own kind. To the Inc-Su (Tyree’s people), love is a weird, weak thing that only humans suffer from.

Zander, by contrast, is human. In this futuristic society, most humans follow a set of guidelines known as the Rules of Decorum. It governs how they dress, how they present themselves, and even how they enter relationships: particularly the sexual side. For one thing, there's no rape. Consent must formally be given by both sides before even kisses or touches are exchanged. Anything else is not permitted, and certainly not tolerated. Even though formerly married to a flawed Inc-Su, Zander still adheres to the human formalities and expresses his concerns over Inc-Su morality.

The Rules of Decorum confuse Tyree, and are something she’s aware of as a human foible, but she’s oblivious to the finer details. When she seduces Zander – not to kill, for once, but with the pure intention of giving both of them what they need – release from all the stress and frustrations they've been under, she doesn’t understand his guilt at not following the Rules and doesn’t even realize that she’s broken them. I had one reviewer comment that it skirted too close to dubious consent (not a trope I like myself, but part of the point of the story is about how consent between individuals in two very different societies might be approached in relationships like this), but just as there is no rape in human society because consent must be given, rape is an alien idea to Tyree as well. It simply doesn't happen among her own kind, and no human would dare try, let alone be physically able, to force an Inc-Su into sex. After all, who's going to tackle a being legendary for killing in such a way? Then again, what person is going to be able to say no? Tyree does have an advantage in being able to control her pheromones to attract humans, so I guess that could be seen as drugging her victims.

The conflict and contrast between this aspect of their two societies (and more, but that's the main one that causes them difficulty) is central to their relationship. We see the entire story through Tyree's eyes – her confusion, her attempts to understand her human charge, and the frequent misunderstandings as both try to find a meeting point between their two cultures, or at least some common ground to which to start from.

By the end of the story, Tyree is still an Inc-Su assassin at heart. The mutual respect she and Zander develop enables them to find a compromise and establish a relationship beyond human versus Inc-Su, assassin vs diplomat. Having been crippled by grief, Zander learns to love again. By coming close to losing him and from him challenging her to see things from differing viewpoints, Tyree learns that even a succubi-style assassin can fall in love, and that it’s not a weakness after all.

About the book:

She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

Available at... Breathless Press |
Smashwords | AReBookstrand


Tethered will be releasing in print on the 24th March!

About the author:

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Blogs –
Adventures in Scifi - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk
Spacefreighters Lounge - http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com

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