0217 - Zoa's influence - 2021.11.29



I've been writing comics, in one form or another, for over two goddamn decades, and tweaking a sentence towards a punchline or a silly misinterpretation or a double entendre is reflex to me at this point. I spot and pounce on a "that's what she/he/they said" as naturally as a musician resolving a chord progression, which, I admit, has gotten me into trouble in mixed company at least once.

(As a side note, given that many people have work in which porn would be perfectly safe, might I suggest popularizing "NRGA" for material that is Not Recommended for General Audiences?)

Attitudes towards sex have shifted by 2167. Indeed, it'd be bizarre if they didn't shift at least as much in the coming century as they did in the prior century, and for many of the same reasons: increased liberty of different genders and sexualities, medical technology allowing for easier and safer recreational activity, other technology allowing for weirder and more interesting activity, less societal pressure to propagate the species, cosmopolitan blending of cultures and religions resulting in the waning authority of traditional prudishness, new forms of art revolutionizing pornography, the ongoing influence of markets in a world where sex sells, etc. If I occasionally get the same kind of reactions from my twenty-first century audience that I imagine the twenty-first century would elicit from the nineteenth, I know I'm doing my job properly.

Forward is not a porn comic, and it's certainly not about sex, but the inciting incident of the narrative involves an autonomous sex toy interpreting a vague invitation to hang out as an RSVP for an orgy, so you can draw your own conclusions from that. Of course, that is not to say that 2167 is a nonstop fuckfest, either - increased sexual liberty, necessarily, includes liberty for asexual, celibate, or monogamous folks as well... to say nothing of the vast majority of humankind for whom boinking in the absence of a meaningful relationship is as appealing as an all-candy diet.

In many ways, I suppose, the world in Forward is similar to the parallel dimension where most porn seems to take place - people look like how they want to look, their junk works how they want it to work, STIs and unintended pregnancy are as foreign as leprosy, no one scolds you for being bad (unless you're into that), and it's as safe and easy to find enthusiastic partners as it is to pre-emptively circumvent any unwelcome advances. What is technology for, if not to facilitate safety, plenty, and leisure?

It even allows us to phase out the complications of the human element entirely, should we so choose. Some people, I imagine, would find that more appealing than others.


0217 - 2167/07/06/17:05 - Lee's apartment, living room
Doc: Human empathy is a beautiful thing, of course, but we "drill it into you", as you put it, that AIs are not people, because-
LC: Yes, yes, I know, if we gave voting rights and basic income to everything capable of outputting "hello world", society would die in flames, I understand the principle. I'm just complaining about the emotional reality of it, I'm allowed to do that.
Doc: Certainly.
LC: Continually telling smiling cartoon faces that they aren't real people and that I don't care about them feels bad to do! It makes me feel like a bad person! Which I am not!
Doc: Again, if you spent more fucking time around humans, you wouldn't be latching on to AIs like this. You'd have both a better outlet for your affections and a better sense of how different a real friend is from a smiling sales algorithm.
LC: ...More fucking time, huh?
Doc: I was using the f-word as an intensifier, Lee, as you are well aware. Once again, Zoa is a bad influence.
LC: Mm, agree to disagree.
Doc: But yes, since you bring it up, increased social time with humans is also the only thing that would lead to a sexual relationship of any sort, and I know you have both a fully functioning libido and a desire for that kind of intimate connection.
LC: Not necessarily.
Doc: You don't necessarily have a libido, or you don't necessarily want a relationship?
LC: No, I mean, like... social interaction isn't the only way to have sex. What about like... gloryholes and stuff?
Doc: ...Zoa may be a worse influence than I realized.
LC: Zoa's also the only reason I'm currently talking to you instead of comfort-watching the first season of Gu Gu JaxxonFive again.
Doc: ...I could be convinced that Zoa has its merits.