SciFi Q of the Day: Wife Husbandry and Vice Versa

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey romance.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey romance.

SciFi Question of the Day: Is it weird for a character have a romance with or even marry someone they knew as a baby? For example: Doctor Who and River Song, or Jacob the werewolf and child-of-vampires Renesme?

Twitter Answers:

BeckyStormyLynn's avatar  Stormy@BeckyStormyLynn  @USNessie A little bit, yeah.

BeckyStormyLynn's avatar  Stormy  @BeckyStormyLynn  @USNessie It just always seems strange to me. In Doctor Who there doesn’t seem to be anything sexual so it’s passable. On Twilight I can’t..

BeckyStormyLynn's avatar  

@USNessie …imagine Nessie and Jacob as anything more than brother/sister relationship. Anything sexual just seems skeevie to me.

USNessie's avatar   AmyBeth Inverness @USNessie  @HarperKingsley0 Oh, wait… I have to re-read the Rowan first… OOH! And what about Dune? Duncan Idaho and Alia?

HarperKingsley0's avatar
Harper Kingsley @HarperKingsley0@USNessie I rly liked Rowan; haven’t read it in forever. Dune: I felt so bad for Alia. She got shortchanged all over the place.

Facebook Answers:

  Charles Root Jr The book Hyperion by Dan Simmons, has an array of Time Travel in it, but one of the characters has knowledge of all the events in her life, so when she’s like 10 she knows the guy she is with is her husband and has all the knowledge of that relationship.

  Kevin McCullen I think (in Hyperion) that she is aging backwards, right? Her husband or father?) is taking her to the chronoliths to try and “cure her”? (I read that ages ago). I remember something about having to explain her situation to her every morning, as she gets younger and younger.

  Kevin McCullen p.s. See Merlin in The Once and Future King (aging backwards).

  Hannah Christine Rohloff I think this is less accepted in our society today as populations increase and people travel more. But this used to be a much more common situation way back when there were fewer people in social circles and not much influx of “new blood”. Young noblewomen were constantly being married off to their father’s friends who had known them since infancy.

  Hannah Christine Rohloff And if you were looking for a “good” match with wealth and power and status, you HAD to marry an older, established man.

  AmyBeth Fredricksen Mea culpa for the repeating “marry” (I corrected the typo for the blog post)Anywho… The one that actually did bother me was Heinlein… (who apparently had a daddy/daughter complex) about Lazarus, I forget which book. Lazarus, already hundreds of years old, but looking middle-aged, adopts a baby when her parents die. When she comes of age, he either fakes his death or retires, and comes back looking young again (he also faked his aging so he’d fit in with the small planetary colony) His adopted daughter is privy to this plan, because the reason he returns with a new identity as a younger man is so that he can marry her.I’m not sure how the Jacob/Renesme thing will play out… he’s bonded to her but she has 2 attentive parents. And the Doctor knew River as a baby then didn’t meet her again until she was a mature adult, so I’ve no issue with that. But I don’t like the idea of someone being a parent figure then switching the relationship to that of a lover.

  Gwendolyn Wilkins I can kind of see where you’re going there. Oddly it’s a situation I never put any thought to and upon first reading the question, no strong feelings popped in one way or the other.It *does* remind me of a strange conversation I had with a friend who was poo-poo-ing women who breast-feed their toddlers saying that breast-feeding a five year old borders on pedophilia.I didn’t agree with her so I bit my tongue and let the conversation die there.Parenting is indeed an intimate act; but there is also indeed a big difference between “parenting energies” and sexual energies. So I guess I’ll cast my vote in the camp of: yup marrying someone you raised from an infant would be weird. (and probably fall into the incest category even if there were no blood relation)

  Box O’ Munchkins I think its weird, but I can accept it better with Dr. Who than I can with the Shapechanger thing… its one of the reasons I’ve not gone to see the last movie…

  Box O’ Munchkins Having said that, I have a friend who found out that the man she wanted to have a relationship with, was just a tiny bit younger than her son… But she found that out after the fact, not before.

  Dan Bressler Yeah, Lazarus Long is one of Heinlein’s creepier characters. There’s another novel about his mom (To Sail Beyond the Sunset) that cranks the creepiness up several notches. I really like his “world as myth” postulate, but find myself kind of reluctant to go re-read those books, just because of the ick factor.

  Daniel Beard If both parties (I am assuming only two) are of age, and of sound judgement. I see no problem with it. Just look at Hef. again.

  AmyBeth Fredricksen Dan Yeah, Heinlein definitely crossed over to creeperville many times. At least with Lazarus and his mother, Lazarus was centuries old, travelling back in time. He had left childhood (and her) behind long long ago, and he was already in a group marriage. She (also well over a hundred years old) then joined the group marriage.Daniel big age differences between adults are fine. I get weirded out when the people have a parent-child relationship, and then they try to transfer the emotions to a sexual relationship. That’s not right.Heinlein did address the issue between siblings… Maureen (Laz’ mother) found out that her two youngest kids, teenagers, were having intercourse with each other. She didn’t tell them they were “naughty” but she did make sure the girl had a chance to meet some other young men, and the problem solved itself.

  Derri Herbert The Heinlen book you’re thinking of is Time Enough For Love, where he also has a relationship with his genetically engineered female twin clones…and the siblings thing was with Lazarus’s children (not Maureen’s) to a wife he watched grow up (from a baby) after saving her from a house fire…. and the siblings didn’t actually have sex, but were starting to see each other as sexual beings as they were living entirely isolated from other people (frontier situation), and the parents were relieved when a few families with similar age children arrived “just in time”… The same book also has a pair of twins who have been genetically engineered to be able to have children of their own with no genetic mutation.Time Enough For Love didn’t creep me out at all, the constant referencing to the incest taboo resulting from the possibility of genetic mutation made sense to me, as did the premise of getting the genes tested and then anyone who’s ‘clean’ being ‘fair game’.One of my favourite books.

  AmyBeth Fredricksen The thing that bothered me about the female twin clones was that they were still under their “child protection” but they were coming of age, and they insisted he officially declare them to be no longer children so they could have sex with them.And there are two or more different sets of siblings we’re thinking of… the ones I’m describing who definitely did have sibling sex were Maureen’s kids (Laz’s little brother and sister) in 20th century America. I think that book is “To Sail Beyond the Sunset” which is Maureen’s story.Oh… and this discussion took off SO well every place I put it (5 different G+ threads and here…) that it is most definitely going on the blog next Tuesday!

  Derri Herbert I’ll re-read next week, but pretty sure none of Maureen’s children have sex with each other… (this is niggling at me now). Maureen’s children were based in early 20th century where the incest taboo is still very strong, the family IS part of a programme (the Howard Trust?) to marry within other registered long-lived families with a cash bonus attached to each child born within such a marriage. The oldest daughter was about to be engaged to a suitable young man. The older boys were busy trying to earn extra money, and young Woody (Lazarus) was trying to beat anyone who would play him at chess.

  AmyBeth Fredricksen The sibling incest happened after Maureen’s husband left her for a younger woman. They had been in a happy little threesome, but the younger woman wanted the man to herself.Maureen gave him the divorce he wanted, and took half their assets, then created a life of her own. She agreed that the kids could stay with their dad (I think because the younger woman had children who were siblings to them, but I forget…)Then the two kids started having issues, and they came to live with Maureen. One night, outside her daughter’s door, she hears the unmistakable sounds, including the daughter saying “thank you” after her orgasm! Although Maureen is glad her daughter has learned to be polite and appreciative during sex, she is worried about the fact that it is an incestuous relationship. She knocks and goes in to talk with them, trying hard not to make them feel ashamed about what they’re doing, but letting them know it’s not a good idea. She then arranges to make sure her daughter has other young men in her life, and the daughter decides for herself to stop having sex with her brother because there are other guys she wants to be with.

  Derri Herbert That must all be in the other book you mention because NONE of that is in Time Enough for Love.

  Derri Herbert Maureen’s marriage was a completely happy ‘open’ marriage. For her section of the story Maureen’s husband was away with his unit in the army, not saying that doesn’t change, but not in the book Time Enough for Love.

  AmyBeth Fredricksen In Lazarus’ Book (Time Enough for Love?) it tells about him going back in time to find and later save his mother. The part I’m talking about is in “To Sail Beyond the Sunset” which concentrates on Maureen, and Lazarus is a secondary character.The marriage was happily open (even registering with the Howard families when a baby was conceived during a spouse-swap with another Howard couple) UNTIL the day that Maureen’s daughter-in-law, who had been living with them since their son (her husband) was killed in military service, decided she wanted the husband (her father-in-law) to herself. Since the younger woman could still have children and Maureen could not, he dumped Maureen. She gave him his divorce but took half their wealth with her.

  AmyBeth Fredricksen Ooops… maybe I should have said “spoiler alert?”

  Derri Herbert it’s all good – just gives me a book to hunt down…

  AmyBeth Fredricksen I’m pissed. I wanted to get it on my Nook so I’d have it instantly and could look up the exact part I’m remembering… we’re remodeling and a lot of my books are in boxes now. But it is not available electronically!

  Derri Herbert I’m waiting for Time Enough… stuck with my hard copy for now…  talk about a 1st world problem!

  Tony Young The Doctor didn’t grow up with River Song and only interacted with her as a child a few times.

  Derri Herbert He did still “know her” as a child though….

Google Plus Answers (The Whoniverse Community)

  Jenn Kirkland  I don’t know enough about Twilight to answer the second part. As for Doctor Who, the Doctor met River first as an adult, so no, not weird. If he had met her as a baby first, that would be weird. As it is, it’s just timey wimey

  Jenn Kirkland  Oh, and there IS a trope for that – they call it Wife Husbandry

  Jo Heywood  How do we know he didn’t meet River as a baby, his time is so whacked! evil laugh

  Jenn Kirkland  He did meet River – well, her ganger – as a baby, and again in Florida when she was between six and eight years old. But he met her (not she met him) the day she died.

  Tanya Martin-McClellan  see also: Robert Anson Heinlein’s Lazarus Long and his mom/lover Maureen

  Jenn Kirkland  Not to mention his love Dora, who he brought up from the age of six  Tanya Martin-McClellan  yeah, R.A.H. was willing to go there.

  Jenn Kirkland  well, and that was (mostly) a future utopia, wherein the only taboo was in making babies with someone whose gene chart and yours were not compatible. Not my scene (ugh).

  Tanya Martin-McClellan   yeah, he’s an interesting writer, but I suspect I would have had trouble hanging out with him if he were still around.

  Jenn Kirkland  Me too. Love his stories, but he was an ass the one time I met him at a con, and well…

  Patricia Lavery  Well,a longer than human lifetime would help.Some werewolf legends have them living as long as vampires,some not.I don’t know enough about Twilight to know either.

  Tanya Martin-McClellan  Yeah, life is too short to spend it hanging out with assholes.

  Jenn Kirkland  good point, Patricia. That’s sort of the issue here in a lot of ways, isn’t it? I mean, applying human morality to characters who outlive humans by anything from a few to hundreds or thousands of years…

  Tanya Martin-McClellan  +Patricia Lavery – I think the longer than human lifetime ends up making it almost inevitable. After you outlive your first mate, you can either live alone or you can start dating someone who would have been inappropriately young/not alive when you and first mate were together… always gonna seem a little creepy, though.

  Patricia Lavery  Not just age but culture,Western culture currently frowns on too much age difference,though not even all current Earthlings feel the same.

  Jenn Kirkland  right, which is the point of 90% of the River/Doctor fanfic out there; River he can be with because she has a longer lifespan than – say – Rose.

  Patricia Lavery  I’m a little behind in the newer Who,but that makes sense.

  Tanya Martin-McClellan  I can get over feeling creeped out if I can be assured that no one is being hurt or taken advantage of in the relationship. It will still cross my mind, though.

  Jenn Kirkland  lol – if anyone is being taken advantage of in the Who relationship in question, it’s the 1200 year old Doctor more than River!

  Tanya Martin-McClellan  I’m pretty confident River can take care of herself. :)And she seems to take good care of him when he’s in need, so I can’t help but heartily approve.

  Patricia Lavery  That would be my impression!

  AmyBeth Inverness  I absolutely love Heinlein, even though he creeps me out sometimes, esp with his Daddy/Daughter themes!With Maureen, at least they had been long removed from their mother/child relationship when they got married. And that was a group marriage that she joined after it was established.As for Dora, if that’s the one I’m thinking of wasn’t it 6 months not six years? Was she the baby rescued from the fire where her parents died? Then he raised her, and faked his death (or did he “retire”?) then created a new persona and returned to the community to marry her. I didn’t like that relationship, because the girl when directly from “I adore my daddy!” to “I want sex with him.”  That’s ew.

  Jenn Kirkland  They called her a baby, yes, but she was in school so she had to be at least five. To 2000yo Lazarus, five or six is pretty much a baby 🙂

  AmyBeth Inverness  What about Dune’s Duncan Idaho and Alia?

  Patricia Lavery  I read that so long ago I’ll have to look it up.

  Nathan V  Ooh-kayy… Here’s my best understanding of this issue.It seems that when a person associates with another during a certain pre-pubescent stage of development, they develop a nonsexual, nonromantic connection with the other. This relationship normally generates an aversion to developing either a sexual or romantic relationship between the two. Psychologists believe that this might act as a safeguard against inbreeding. This explains why two non-siblings will develop a sibling-like relationship if raised together, but two siblings raised seperately will not.As has been pointed out already, the relationship between The Doctor and River Song is… wibbly-wobbly. Their timeline is distorted in such a way that the above effect never really had the chance to develop; there was both romantic and sexual tension between them shortly before she died, well before she was even conceived.I’m not very familiar with Twilight, as I do my best to avoid it, but I’ve had the Jacob/Renesme situation explained to me. As per usual for Twilight, it’s twisted on multiple levels.Jacob and Renesme were close during Renesme’s (post-series) development, which should have triggered the above effect; Jacob should have been like an uncle to Renesme.Except for, Jacob never allowed that from happening. When Renesme was born, Jacob “imprinted” himself on her, which acts like a permanent love potion from a children’s fantasy story. Remember how Ron behaved when he accidentally drank the love potion that was meant for Harry? That’s how Renesme will act toward Jacob for her entire life. She has no free will in the matter.The fact that he robbed her of her own choice at all is bad enough, but again, he did this when she was just born. That just adds yet another level of squick to the whole thing.To sum all of that up and answer the question more directly, yes, it is generally weird. Exceptions, however, can be made if they can be properly explained.

  Patricia Lavery  Well, great explanation,but did you know the conversation started about Time Lords and Werewolves?

  Amy B  Can I just say, Renesme the THE WORST NAME FOR A BABY EVER.  Like, EVER.

  Nathan V  +Patricia Lavery are you referring to me? Yes, I did know that. Why do you ask?

  Patricia Lavery  Re; Nathan V It was just such a deep analysis of mythical characters it struck me as funny.I laugh at myself sometimes for my own geekiness.I just answered a question on a + Jo Heywood post at length about Gallifreyan jurisprudence!

Google Plus Answers (SciFI Community)

  Jenn Thorson  A little bit. I know in Star Wars, I had a hard time understanding why Padme would fall for Anniken when she knew him for years as a whiny little kid who she otherwise probably wouldn’t have even enjoyed babysitting.

  Ben Nitschke  I don’t think so. I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic type though. So it sorta fits the mold of love conquering time. Having said that, I think it’s not very probable. Especially in the case of Star Wars with a whole galaxy full of other people to love.To me though, it seems like a great way to create one more bond between romantic characters. I’d be more interested to hear why this would be weird to anyone else.

  Wayne Eddy  In a science fiction future where people live very long lives in very good health and have youthful good looks and vigour, this probably isn’t too unreasonable.

  Stephanie Chaptal  Ask Maureen Long who married her own son and his cloned twins in Beyond the Sunset by Robert Heinlein. 🙂

  Allison Quicoy  It is. Not saying it’s unreasonable or wrong. But yeah it’s weird.

  Wayne Eddy  +Stephanie Chaptal  Heinlein got a bit strange in his later novels.  I thought his earlier stuff was a lot better.

  Melanie Avion  The Dr would have limited choices. Being a Time Lord means he as a good chance of running into any partner at a younger/older age stage.

  AmyBeth Inverness  What about Dune’s Duncan Idaho and Alia?

  Wayne Eddy  Duncan & Alia is an interesting one.  A bit difficult to say how old either was.  I think Duncan’s body was force grown very quickly in a tank, and Alia had many lifetimes of memories.  Who was old and who was young?

  AmyBeth Inverness  Duncan was in love with Alia’s mother, but never acted on it. His re-awakened clone was married to Alia… and you’re right, even though she was a young woman, she had memories of ages.I like to think they found happiness in their own way… although she died tragically after going insane… ummm… maybe that happiness was short lived after all.

  Edward Branley  Given that people IRL marry their childhood sweethearts, I don’t see why SF/F shouldn’t do the same. It’s 0636 and I’m at ATL after getting off a redeye, so my brain’s a bit fuzzy, but two pairs come right to mind: Johnny and Carmen in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, along with Rhys Thuryn and Evaine MacRorie from Katherine Kurtz’s Deryninovels. The SST pairing is a bit more casual, but Evaine and Rhys are one of those couples “destined” to be together for most of their lives.

  Winchell Chung  +AmyBeth Inverness for me the most dramatic example of that can be found in Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love, in the chapter“The Tale of the Adopted Daughter” (which is worth the price of the novel all by itself).The protagonist, Lazarus Long, is immortal. That chapter is the engrossing story of love, marriage, and death along with the sadness of an immortal. Lazarus Long adopts an orphan girl baby he catches as the dying parents throw her out of the burning house. He raises her to adulthood, as both grow to appreciate, respect, and love each other. They marry, and embark on a pioneer journey with real covered wagons. Their family grows with many children, as other families settle in the area. But Lazarus has to watch his beloved wife grow old and die, while he has to live on.

  Stephanie Chaptal  And finally he gave her name to his favorite spaceship : Dora. Great novel by the way Time enough for love.

  AmyBeth Inverness  Heinlein is one of my biggest influences. He creeps me out sometimes, but always makes me think.

Google Plus Answers (Science Fiction Community)

  Edrei Zahari  I like to think there is good writing and bad writing, but as much as I like River Song as a character, she’s been badly written throughout the Silence arc. The whole resolution felt…empty, forced even.

Not going to even step foot in the mess of fiction that it Twilight though, so wrong on so many different levels.

  Derek Longbow  romance, marriage is a cultural construct of the Terran/Human society. We can’t impose our values on alien culture nor judge it as weird. One of the utility of sci-fi is to deconstruct the notions of romance and marriage.

  Keith Parker  I think that it is a weird concept in real life; however, one of the reasons we write science fiction is to explore the “what ifs” and the oddities of life. If the characters are sympathetic and believable the story won’t be weird.

  Paul Duggan  There’s a line in the TV series Rosanne where her father? is marrying one of her friends? (Something like that)… the priest said “Nobody thought when he met her when she was just 5 years old that they’d be together one day… you didn’t think that right?” Which I think sums it up.

  Paul Duggan  I must say the relationship in Endymium weirdos me out though.

  AmyBeth Inverness  I’m not familiar with Endymium…

  AmyBeth Inverness  What about Dune’s Duncan Idaho and Alia?

  Lord Dissident  Nah. I don’t think it weird at all.  Btw, the Doctor knew River before she was born, and knew that he married her.

  Daniel Traum  I wonder what you mean by weird. Do you mean weird like it isn’t believable? If so, then I agree with +Edrei Zahari that it’s the writing that decides that. When you’re reading well written fiction you should be able to put you’re own weirdness aside. Real life is sometimes weird.

Google Plus Answers (Public Post)

  EB Taylor  In the realm of SF/F no way. There are so many different walks of life it becomes more of a when will it happen than if it should.

  Ashley Wade  IMO, nope.

I think as long as those sorts of feelings didn’t exist or, at the very least, weren’t acted upon while the younger didn’t have the maturity to properly cope with them then it’s fine.
What you should know, is I have something similar in my first novel (very long living people).  
Also, the doctor knows everyone during all periods of their lives. That’s not really fair to him.

  Vivian Spartacus  I find it extremely creepy.

  Samuel Falvo II  It should make for some interesting dinner-time conversations.

  Vivian Spartacus  I would also note that the vast majority of such relationships involve an older man and a baby girl.  Also ick.

  Rosanne Catalano  In “fiction” anything IS possible so the answer is no it is not weird. Hope this helps!

  Al Arthur  Weird? Sure. But what reader wants ‘normal’ in a scifi story?

  Allisyn Bridges  It is definitely weird but I find it less weird in cases of timey-wimey shenanigans where they meet first as adults

  Brittany Constable  I think as long as it’s clear that there are no romantic feelings toward them as a child, then it’s fine. (So the Twilight example is super squicky.) For instance, The Time Traveler’s Wife shows Henry interacting with both his wife and himself as children, and treats them both much the same,

  Ashley Wade  But in Twilight (haven’t seen the movie) the person who has imprinted is supposed to be a perfect companion. If Renesme never wants a romantic relationship with Jacob then they never have one and he never has those feelings for her.

  Tiffany Marshall  My two cents – No matter your feelings on Twilight, Jacob is basically a werewolf version of the “empathic metamorph” from Star Trek: TNG. (Kamala?) And isn’t part of the fun of sci-fi making it weird?

  Ashley Wade  +Tiffany Marshall that is THe best comparison ever!

  AmyBeth Inverness  +Brittany Constable Ooh! I loved The Time Traveller’s Wife! Good book, good movie! I love how he was so very careful to treat her as a child when she was a child. It must have been disconcerting to appear in the meadow and not know whether she would appear at age 5, 15, or 25.

  AmyBeth Inverness  What about Dune’s Duncan Idaho and Alia?

  Christopher Blanchard  As long as there is time between they baby phase and the adult phase. In my opinion, people don’t fall for someone they watch grow up.

Holy smokes! This post is 4,600 words. If anyone actually reads the entire post all the way through, I’ll be amazed lol! Last week I started experimenting with posting to multiple communities within Google Plus. It worked far better than I’d hoped. Each of the small communities began its own conversation with each question I asked. Sometimes they would go in completely different directions. Sometimes they would be quite similar, such as in this one where Maureen and Lazarus kept coming up.

I find it interesting that although I rarely get any comments on my blog posts, I do get a lot of comments on my SciFi Questions and other social media. I like putting the best Q of the week on the blog just so I can remember that I am popular somewhere!

SciFi Q of the DayI would love to hear what you think! Even if you are reading this post a year or more after publishing, I hope you will leave a comment with your own ideas on this topic.

About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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6 Responses to SciFi Q of the Day: Wife Husbandry and Vice Versa

  1. Is the stereotype “Great artists are promiscuous” one that will persist through the centuries, or did we leave it behind in the 20th century?

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    What stories have been classified as SciFi but probably shouldn’t be?

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