I recall reading a short story in which sexual desire was causing men to act out and murder those to whom they were attracted.

IIRC it was a twist on the alien invaders theme, but instead of an armed invasion, invaders decided to just let humans die off by introducing this, erm, radical change in behavior.

I may have some details wrong but that's what I recall. Looking for title and author, obviously.


2 Answers 2


This is "The Screwfly Solution" (1977) by James Tiptree Jr.

Men start killing their wives, lovers, etc. The protagonist has a husband and daughter, and has a biology background. They recognize some of the danger, and her husband goes to live in the shed away from the women. One day her daughter goes to visit her husband (despite warnings from the protagonist) and he kills the daughter. At this point, realizing that even her husband has become dangerous to her, the protagonist runs away.

Meanwhile, around the world women are being killed. An apocalyptic belief (the "Sons of Adam") arises that somehow a new world will be born when all women are dead, and they start to be hunted down, even as they try to flee. (There is a description of a group of women, shrouded from head to foot, trying to get on a plane to escape, but they are set upon by the men and killed.)

The protagonist flees to a small northern (Canadian) town, putting together clues that indicate that the disease may be extraterrestrial based on its dispersion pattern in the global atmospheric system. An old man shows signs of recognizing her as a woman, so she takes camping gear and heads into the bush.

One day she observes a presence hovering in the air, apparently taking samples, and she comments on the new inheritors of Earth cleaning it up for occupation.

The title is based on a musing of the protagonist on a method for dealing with screwflies where a genetic change was introduced that caused males to attempt to mate with the head of the females.


A story where sex is turned to male violence against women? Why, who else could it be but James Tiptree / Racoona Sheldon / Alice Sheldon?

It's The Screwfly Solution published as by Racoona Sheldon originally.

A potential difficulty for our species has always been implicit in the close linkage between the behavioural expression of agression/predation and sexual reproduction in the male.


This way there's no muss, no fuss. Just like what we did to the screwfly. Pinpoint the weak link, wait a bit while we do it for them.


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