Monday, July 28, 2014


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.


RACE 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. 

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