This article was written by Funkdooby. I've extracted it from a far longer thread as I hope it will get more response as a stand alone article.
OK, pith helmet on, here is part 5 of Smithology. Even if I had parts 2, 3 and 4 in PC format (which I don't), they're full of spoilers anyway. So...
Sex In Smithland
The written word is the only area of mainstream entertainment not too rigidly shackled by censorship, and I believe it should stay that way. Having said that, I'm far from convinced by the arguments of those who say that sex is an essential ingredient of a good story, especially in the horror genre. Sex is a rather trick subject to write about. There are always going to be those who argue that you've gone too far, and those who think that you haven't gone far enough. Such is life. For myself, I think that more or less anything should be permissable, so long as it is relevant to the plot and not simply gratuitous.
To prove a point, take Guy's novel The Lurkers. It is widely acknowledged as one of his finest books, yet it is one of the very few not to contain any sexual content. This is clear evidence that plot, characterisation and one's skill as a writer can outweigh the need for a romp in every other chapter. Two of the world's top horror writers, Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell, rarely feature explicit scenes in their novels. It has to be confessed, however, that sex does sell, or at least helps to sell. A lot of readers (and not just those who habitually hang around Private shops in dirty macs, by any means) are drawn to novels containing a fair bit of sexual material. For example, witness the extraordinary success Jackie Collins has had. Recently I was discussing the work of GNS with two female friends, both of whom I have managed to convert to all things Smithological (I work hard spreading the word far and wide ;D). I was asked what had drawn me to Guy's novels in the beginning, and I replied that, more than anything else, it had been the locations in which many are set - the Welsh hills, the mudflats of the Wash, the Scottish Highlands. So then I asked my friends they liked most, and they said, as one and without hesitation, the sex! Different strokes and all that.
The majority of the sex in GNS novels is fairly mild and straightforward, at least by the standards of many of today's writers. Bamboo Guerillas, the only war story in the canon, is a notable exception. I must say that I don't fully agree with who say that explicit sex can't be erotic. For example, James Herbert and Clive Barker both have a knack of presenting often pretty extreme (not to say unusual, in Barker's case) sexual activities in a way that is somehow both acceptable and good to read. Others, most notably Shaun Hutson, can make an act that should be highly pleasurable and intimate seem upleasantly impersonal, even repugnant. Once again, it all comes down to the skill and preference of the individual.
As with all other areas, the GNS style of writing about sexual situations is unique - often erotic, occasionally frightening, sometimes funny. A lot of the male characters, particularly in the early books, seem obsessed with the virginity or otherwise of their potential conquests. Younger men are usually shown in their true light, preoccupied with relieving girls of their clothes and getting them into bed at the first opportunity. This honesty is pretty rare among male writers, who often paint a prettier, falsely romantic picture of their counterparts. Also significant is the fact that most of Guy's female characters enjoy sex as much as the men and aren't slow to take the initiative, which of course is the way it should be, though a large number of other authors seem to place the emphasis on male pleasure, possibly a reflection on how they are themselves in the real world.
It seems likely that the era in which Guy grew up has influenced his writing when it comes to sex, and this is especially noticeable in stories like The Slime Beast. There are almost never any mentions of the respective genital organs by their medical names; it is usually 'his hardness' or 'her warm moistness', perhaps 'that dark triangle of hair which hid its secrets.' I think most would agree with this approach, for surely we don't need every single detail spelled out for us, and using the imagination is an integral part of reading fiction. Sex in Smithland often has about it a certain quaint charm and innocence, harking back to a time when there was something thrilling, forbidden almost, about the subject. Madeleine de Demandolx de la Palud (from Sabat 3: Cannibal Cult - I just love that name!) had sampled the delights of lesbianism and initiated others to her cause at the convent at which she had resided, and Sabat himself had a homosexual encounter in his youth over which he tortued himself, but Guy's men and women are in the main heterosexual and without what I, at least, would term kinks. Sabat goes in for a bit of S&M, and Phil Barron of The Undead has experimented with self-strangulation to heighten his thrills (don't try this at home, kids!), but these cases are exceptions rather than the rule.
If writing about sex in general is akin to walking through a minefield, then describing sexual violence is more problematic still. A lot of Guy's characters are sexually agressive, not to say dangerous. For men like James Foster (The Wood), Blake Barrett (who inhabits Ed Cain's body in The Unseen) and the aforementioned Phil Barron, sex means very little in itself. There is certainly no love involved, and perhaps not even lust. They use sex as a way of dominating, as a means of expressing their will to power, as AE Van Vogt described it. These men are obsessed more by power than anything else. This is underlined by Foster's recollection of an incident from his youth: his advances were spurned by a girl, so he decided to attack her as she walked home. He didn't rape her, just humiliated her as much as he could, and a month later she committed suicide, which outcome he viewed as a great personal triumph.
But whatever has taken place over the years in Smithland, there is never any gloating involved on Guy's part - we are always made to feel for the victims and to abhor the agressors' behaviour. They are clearly shown as the insecure and pathetic creatures they really are. In many cases, the extreme behaviour of characters is brought about by exposure to otherworldly forces, for example Jenny Lawson in The Sucking Pit and John Strike in Phobia. I have heard arguments from certain quarters that 'no one carries on like that in the real world.' Maybe not, but Guy is a horror writer - and a pulp horror writer at that. The word the critics seem to have missing from their dictionaries is entertainment. The above argument could just as easily be levelled at Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes yarns, but that doesn't stop the Baker Street detective from being the most popular fictional creation of all time. We know that mankind is never likely to be threatened by huge mutated crabs, any more than by zombies or vampires, but we enjoy these tales nonetheless. I certainly have never been offended by anything I've read in a GNS novel, sexual or otherwise; usually I have been too wrapped up in the general plot.
Some of you may recall the Paul Evans 'Fact File' from GR5. In this, Paul asked the question: 'Why are all the young girls sex mad and women over thirty frigid?' A touch unfair? I'd say so, though it's easy to see how some readers might get this impression. Certainly, a lot of the older female characters appear to have an almost pathological aversion to sex and only perform the act, if at all, out of a sense of duty. A memorable case in point is Fay Thompson of Crabs' Moon infamy, who tells her long-suffering husband that she'd never have married him if he'd confessed beforehand to masturbating in his youth! And Edna Lupoff from Thirst II: The Plague is another good example. It is also true that most parents in Smithland find it all but impossible to accept that their offspring might even have sexual thoughts, far less actually do anything.
If Guy Smith can be said to have an obession when it comes to the characters in his books, then it is beyond question with erections! Bulging arousals and protrusions in the trouser department abound. Often one can barely turn round for fear of losing an eye! Again, this is all rather humorous and yet another area for which GNS is well known. Interestingly, the usual male fixation with size is rarely addressed - make of that what you will
Whatever you views on the sex in Guy's novels, no one can dispute that this particular human activity has turned up some absolute classic lines for the Smithism addicts among us. You will recall that we looked at some of these choice outtakes in the first part of this series, a number of which were a bit saucy. Unfortunately, owing to space limitation, I was unable to include more of these delightful morsels. So now, rather than attempt to dissect this theme further, I present a fresh batch of choice snippets, this time, bearing in mind the nature of this article, almost all sexually orientated in one way or another.
Sheenah stepped close to him, the stale tobacco on her breath suddenly seemed erotic, and for one awful moment he thought he might come in his pants. (Joby Tarrat fears his enjoyment may come to a premature end, The Neophyte)
She took him with a breathtaking unexpectedness, lifting herself up and straddling him in one perfectly co-ordinated movement as though she was mounting a horse. (Sabat finds his luck in again - Sabat 4: The Druid Connection)
'I'm a compulsive bottom smacker...I'm afraid I can't resist a nice bum!' (Roger 'Pretty Boy' Stafford, Alligators)
'...My boss is on the game, or rather the government is.' (Richard Coyle, The Pluto Pact)
'I wish you'd done that to me a long time ago! Oh God! Gavin, promise me you'll do it to me again...and again!' (Liz Beck, The Slime Beast)
Sex is man's strongest urge, next to the will to survive. Phil Barron remembered this as he lay on the camp-bed listening to the chorus of orgasmic squeals. (The Undead)
His erection was pushing hard as though trying to fight its way out of his cords. (Reg Bradburn, The Walking Dead)
Something pink and rigid popped out of the vent in the Planning Officer's pants, had him glancing down, an intake of breath. (The Sucking Pit has Claude Minworth firmly in its grip, The Walking Dead)
'Phew! It's bigger than it was the other night!' 'You've made it grow. I've been walking around like this for two days. Had to wear a pair of baggy plus-fours in order to hide it!' (Clive Rowland and Jenny Lawson get it one, The Sucking Pit)
'Oooh! Come on, Clivey! Hurry up and get those clothes off. Your little girl's simply drooling!' (Jenny Lawson, The Sucking Pit)
'Come on, Clivey, off with your shirt as well. You know how much I loathe any form of clothing on the job!' (Jenny Lawson, The Sucking Pit)
Pretty wench, our menfolk have been with you, spurned us for your shapely body. (A moment of jealousy from the inbred of Invercurie, Cannibals)
'It's about time I took you the way a woman should be taken, Lil. No more of this gentle under-the-sheets stuff, once a week if I'm lucky, for me!' (Ray Tyler finds lycanthropic urges getting the better of him, Wolfcurse)
The builders had made a good job of the erection: not a single flaw to destroy its antiquity. (No sex on this occasion, but I couldn't resist this one from Satan's Snowdrop)
Stark naked he lay there on the couch, a prize specimen at a canine show letting the judge give it the once over. (Sabat 1: The Graveyard Vultures)
Randa...That would be short for Miranda, Sabat concluded, and wished he didn't get erections so frequently. (Sabat1)
Her breasts swayed gently from side to side as she walked, perfectly rounded, the nipples stiff and red like cherries topping a sundae. (Deathbell)
They were rolling over together as he exploded, and through blurred vision he saw her riding him like a bucking bronco, somehow managing to stay in the saddle, and loving every minute of it. (Caroline de Brunner takes Klin for a canter, Killer Crabs)
...Suddenly it found its way out through the vent in his briefs, rested in the palm of her sweaty hand like a separate living entity that had joined them in a threesome. (Brian and Louise perform their last act prior to becoming crab elevenses, Crabs: The Human Sacrifice)
Thank God she was still a virgin. Well, almost. (A moment of confusion for Edna Lupoff, Thirst II: The Plague)
'We're naughty boys, teacher, getting our pricks out in class. Teach us a lesson, whack us hard and maybe we'll not do it again!' (Elwyn Waters, Thirst II: The Plague)
'The girl is with child because she has mated, been fertilized by the sperm of a commoner!' (George Brownlow sounds off, Accursed)
'...I'm not even going to barricade my bedroom door tonight, and if any of you three fancy me, then come on up. All three of you if you like, and we'll have a bloody orgy!' (Frank Ingram extends an open invitation, The Island)
That summer he decided to stop masturbating. It wasn't his body to abuse, it was his Maker's. (Brian Brown, Alligators)
Abstention from masturbating was sheer purgatory. He fought against it and tossed restlessly throughout sleepless nights, cursing his erection, but it only stood and mocked him. (Brian Brown, Alligators)
Strewth, he'd got an erection going over it all in his mind, one of the few occasions he'd managed it underwater. (Reg Bradburn, The Walking Dead)
Right, I think you've had enough pulsating organs to keep you going for a while yet. There are many additional Smithisms I could draw upon, but to do so would see me taking over an entire issue of GR. Maybe we'll look at some more in a future part of Smithology. For now, I hope seeing these fine specimens again gave you as much pleasure as they did the first time round (as the actress said...you know the rest ).
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.