I recently reread the obscure Marion Zimmer Bradley book, THE DOOR THROUGH SPACE, which originally appeared as one of the famous "Ace Doubles," paired with an A. Bertram Chandler novel.
This is not a review as such, but rather a summation of the unusual incest-themes in the book, which I have not noted in the majority of the Bradley books I've read-- and I've probably read a little over twenty of them. I've capitalized most of the names just because I felt like it.
CARGILL is a Terran Intelligence agent on Wolf, a planet of aliens who look
human but are not genetically related to earthpeople. Prior to the novel’s beginning
RACE has suffered facial injuries from a duel he fought against his best friend
RAKHA, said to have suffered even worse injuries of the same kind. Both men are
described as nearly identical in many ways—though the similarity of their names
is not mentioned--, but RAKHAL can do one thing RACE can’t: marry RACE’s sister JULI.
The quarrel is
later explained as one between RACE’s loyalty to the Terran Empire and RAKHAL’s
advocacy of the rights of Wolf against Terran influence. However, in the
opening chapters it seems more like RACE being possessive of JULI. In the
present day JULI comes to him, asking him to play “rescuer,” because RAKHAL has
run away with their little daughter RINDY. RACE consents to investigate, partly
because RAKHAL is rumored to be allied to a weapons-smuggler, “the Toymaker,”
who may be an ally to Earth’s enemies. However, in the final scene between RACE
and JULI, she embraces him and accidentally hurts him, and he reacts by
snapping the ritual chains she wears; the symbol of JULI’s marriage to RAKHAL.
In so doing he accidentally wounds her slightly, a “mutual wounding” that
mirrors the duel of RACE and RAKHAL.
RACE begins his investigation by
journeying to a town off-limits to Earth-people, and he tries to gain
information from KYRAL, one of Wolf’s nonhumans and an enemy to Terran
interests. KYRAL mistakes RACE for RAKHAL but refuses to help the Earthman once
he knows the truth. KYRAL is, however, married to his two half-sisters, DALISSA
and MIELLYN, both desirable women RACE meets during his investigations. There’s
no clarity about whether or not KYRAL has had intercourse with either sibling,
as RACE remembers that most if not all “brother-sister marriages” on Wolf are
“loveless.” Aggressive DALISSA gives RACE the opportunity to win information if
he endures ritual torture; he does so and DALISSA ends up not only giving RACE
intel but also making love to him. She
asks him to take her away from KYRAL but RACE senses that she’s too bound to
Wolifan customs and never sees her again.
This clears the path for RACE’s union
with MIELLYN, a sort of child-woman who can look like an underaged “pixie”
without her makeup, but can metamorphose into a more mature figure when she
chooses. Through the complicated web of connections between MIELLYN, the
Toymaker, and RAKHAL, RACE eventually encounters his rival, but ends up saving
his rival’s life rather than taking it. The novel ends with the implication
that RAKHAL will be able to return to a normal family life with JULI and RINDY,
while RACE’s incest-demons have been exorcised by his alliance to the
child-woman MIELYNN, implicitly “stolen” from KYRAL as RAKHAL “stole” JULI.