So I was on this panel about sexuality at EightSquaredCon, paraphrasing a pick-up scene by professional Yorkshireman John Braine and hazing people with the idea that maybe we didn’t invent same-sex attraction last week, and that anyone writing novels or reading them may for the longest time have had a fairly sophisticated take on the subject; one we just can’t see these days, obsessed as we are by labeling everything. And then I read The Productions of Time by John Brunner, an indispensable book if only for its jaw-dropping overuse of the expression “fullblown Les”. As in:
“And me as a fullblown Les,” Heather said. “It’s so frightening, Murray! They said ‘the urge was on her tapes’ and if you hadn’t worried me so much… I’d have been seduced by Ida and then…”
“But it might not have worked, young woman!”
“It would have,” she said obstinately. “There’s a bit of it in all of us — you should know that, as a doctor. I used to get crushes on older girls when I was at school, so it’s probably still in me, just below the surface, waiting for—“
Hysteria on the way, Murray diagnosed, and wondered if he was going to have to slap her face to quiet her.
So that’s my oh-so-sophisticated take on the historiography of sex blown out of the shallows. Though of course Brunner, while capable of writing like a dog and thinking like a dog, was not incapable of irony, and this was published (in 1967) by New American Library, so maybe there’s a sneery transatlantic joke being played here on the cowpokes.
All that remains is to write a cracking outline to go with “Fullblown Les” – a title too po-mo to waste.