by Helen E. Davis
This was written as a sequel to "How To Build A Better Martian" and appeared in Tightbeam 175, in May 1992.
In How To Build A better Martian I left out sex -- on purpose -- claiming it to be a complicated subject. Why is that? Well, one can assume that Martians are made male and female, and that the male impregnate the female who then either lays an egg or gives birth live -- but that seem familiar to me. The whole purpose of building a better Martian is to come up with something unique, something you wouldn't think of right off the top of your head. So how does one build a unique, complicated sex-style? Let's grab the RNGs and get to work.
The first thing I did was to determine the pattern of sexual reproduction. On Earth there are four basic types:
Using a four-sided die (because I had four choices) I rolled up a 3. Therefore, during sex Martians might shed their gametes into a common area where the gametes would fuse and the resulting young would develope. Because of this, the Martian genders would not have to be obviously diffeent from each, since they would not have to seek out suitable partners.
- Internal Fertilization, external development. (Bird eggs)
- Internal Fertilization, internal development. (Mammals)
- External Fertilization, external development. (Frogs)
- External Fertilization, internal development. (Fish that pick up fertilized eggs and carry them in their mouths until hatching.
I next picked up the twelve-sided die and rolled out the answers to the following questions:
One thing you may wonder right off the bat is, "How can there be eleven genders, yet only three are needed to create a new individual?" You could have three fertile genders and seven infertile ones. Or you could say that although there are eleven different types of gametes, the fusion of any three will result in an embryo. External fertilization makes the latter a very feasible idea, especially if the Martians have mass matings.
- How many genders of Martians are there? -- 11
- How many parents contribute genetic material to each offspring? -- 3
- How many genders are carried by each individual? -- 3
So each Martian carries three separate genders, and, if you remember, there are three antennae. We could say that each antenna is associated with a separate set of gonads, and each set would produce a different type of gamete. The gonads would be located beneath the body surface, where they would be kept safe, and a duct would run up the antenna, where the gametes could be easily deposited with other gametes in a large, central pool. This duct would most likely be located beneath the eye, so as not to interfere with the ocular muscles.
Crying Martian tears -- an interesting euphanism...
Anyway. How would Martians have sex? Several might gather in one place, rubbing their antennae together and massaging sensitive nerves until the gametes began to flow. On water-poor Mars the gametes would most likely be carried in a thick foam, rather than in a liquid, and the foam would have to harden quickly in order to resist the low atmospheric pressure. After this the adult Martians would probably step away from the foam, leaving the baby Martians to develop on their own.
A severe drawback of this scenario is that hundreds or thousands of embryos could result from a single mating, when only a very few are needed to keep the population steady. Predation would keep the numbers down, but we should anticipate that the civilized Martians would keep predators away from their young. But what if the young, trapped inside their hardened foam, began to prey on each other? The stronger would devour the weaker, thus reducing the number of young produced in a single mating while encouraging the survival of the fittest. Only the strongest, fastest, and smartest would survive to break free of the natal foam.
While we are on the sunject of sex, let's ask this: How many of the Martians are, ah, sexually unusual individuals? Picking up mpercentile dice (two ten-sided) I roll 47. 47 percent, or roughly half of the population, practicies unusual sex. Pretty kinky creatures, eh? No, because these are biological parameters, not moral ones. The biological definition of abnormal sex is mating which will not produce offspring -- which means that any kind of sex which is purely for pleasure is abnormal. (Remember, this is a definition, not a condemnation. I'm certainly not planning on having a baby every nine months!) Therefore, less than half of the Martian race has ever had sex just for the fun of it -- and actually they are a cold, stiff-necked race.
Except that they don't have necks.
Then comes the question of how the young are raised. For this, I'll need the percentile RNG's and the following table:
Rolling my percentile RNGs, I come up with 24% or abandonment of the young after hatching. This reinforces my earlier plan. The Martians must be extremely cold-hearted, to mate with such little pleasure and abandon their young so causually.
0-10% Gametes abandoned at issue marine invertebrates 11-20% Fertilization of eggs, then abandonment Frogs; some fish 21-30% Eggs cared for, young abandoned at birth Fish, sharks 31-40% Care of young for short period, young abandoned after "weaning." rabbits, some birds 41-50% Care of young for short time after weaning, minimal life training cats, some birds 51-60% Young cared for until adolescence foxes 61-70% Young leave some time after adolescence, but before raising own young humans 71-80% young leave only when about to raise own young 81-90% Young raise own young within the household, and leave only under crowded conditions 91-100% Young never leave, dense colonies form corals
But without any fluid in their bodies, why would they need hearts?
In a sheltered pit on the dusty surface of Mars, the inhabitants of one village gather for the centennial mating ritual, as dictated by the ancient laws. Congo, the village cheif, stands on a mound in the center of the pit; all the others cluster together, close enough to touch. So uncomfortable. Bayel stands near Triken, wondering if this, his first mating will be anything like the forbidden afternoon spent in the lee of a rock so many months before.
Congo starts the dance, shuffling his five limbs in a complicated pattern, weaving his antennae to and fro, out beyond the edges of his body. As the villagers join in, their anttenae cannot help but touch, stroke, and slide on each other. Globular Cresta fruits are crushed underfoot, releasing their intoxicating taste. Antennae weave more boldly, touching deeper. Bayel finds this sensation of otherness touching to be at first obnoxious, then pleasing, and finally electrifying.
Here are there across the field of swaying antennae, some are meeting and wrapping tight around each other. Bayel reaches for Triken's antennae even as another does, and when the three meet, he knows a sweeter pleasure than he has ever felt before. More antennaae twist tight around his two free ones, and soon the entire field is a throbbing, interlocked mass.
Then it comes, the sensation that Bayel is never able to capture or describe, something like pain but so much more desirable, a star exploding within the very self, a brilliance unknown. A white mist fills the air, a dry foam dust, as the star blazes on...
Afterwards -- for he never does remember disentagling himself from the mass, Bayel awakens at the side of the pit, the exhausted forms of the other villagers strewn about him. The pit is filled with the seed for the next generation, the next hundred years. He pulls himself away from all the others -- even the thought of looking at another is nauseating now. Dragging himself away from the pit, he abandons the young to the care of the village guardians and fate.
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