I usually have to think to come up with catchy titles for my entries, but the work has been done for me this week. Love is the Plan the Plan is Death is a Nebula-winning short story written by James Tiptree Jr., a pseudonym of Alice Sheldon. A trailblazer in fusing “hard” science fiction which focused on science and technology with the sociological and psychological ideas of “soft” science fiction, Tiptree was also a master in exploring the vantage point of the other, the female, and the alien. I first came upon her work in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever and was captivated by the mastery of her prose and the bleakness of her tales. Love is the Plan the Plan is Death is my favorite story out of that compilation.
Unlike the utopian future of the Star Trek universe, Tiptree’s science fiction stories tend to be dark and pessimistic, often exploring the inexorable force of biological determinism and the futility of existence as self-aware individuals. Her tales force me to wonder: Are we as human beings ultimately slaves to our biology? Despite our intelligence, are we doomed to behave like other creatures, to overwhelm the carrying capacity of our surroundings until we experience precipitous plunges in population as a species? Although Love features no human characters, it provides an opportunity to ruminate upon these very important questions through the perspective of Moggadeet, a terrifying yet lovable and sympathetic alien.