I am trying to find this story - I only remember the setting: a species which has four genders. Any three of them can come together and "wurple", which would produces a member of the missing gender. The main character seems to think this would automatically keep the population distribution in check, but it's not explained very clearly.

The story is the thoughts and anticipations of one of them as he plans different "wurples" he would participate in. He was especially fascinated with just the word "wurple". Each of the four genders has different characteristics, and one is currently much more prevalent than the others, so much so that nobody wants to associate with them - but that just makes the problem worse. Any ideas? I would probably have read it in the early 90s or before.

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  • Also mentioned here: fuseki.net/home/lostsf.html unfortunately with no resolution. – Valorum Jan 20 '15 at 10:18
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    Possibly one of these; tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BizarreAlienSexes – Valorum Jan 20 '15 at 13:36
  • @Richard: it turns out that page you linked to is by the same user who asked this question, and he has asked several other story-identification questions from it here as well. – b_jonas Jan 20 '15 at 15:53
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    This is annoying to search for b/c google keeps trying to correct "wurple" to the Pokemon "wurmple" :). – Trish Ling Jan 20 '15 at 15:58
  • @TrishLing - If you put it into quote marks, you can get google to search for that word as written – Valorum Jan 20 '15 at 16:00

I found it by googling possible variations of "wurple". It turned out to be "warple"!

The story is Frank Herbert (of the Dune series) and F. M. Busby's "Come To the Party", first published in 1978.

On the planet Delfa, Delfans have four sexes: male, female, ultra, and squish. Any 3 sexes can breed together (aka warple) and the resultant offspring is whichever sex wasn't present. The squish population is the one that's more prevalent and this has created a crisis- because obviously with the way Delfan reproduction works, if males, females and ultras avoid associating with squishes and will only warple with each other, the only sex the offspring can be is a squish. And that just makes more squishes.

Here's is a Google Books excerpt of the story as found in The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert:

Excerpt 1:

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

excerpt 1

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  • nice added this to my wish list :) – Dreamwalker Jan 22 '15 at 11:59

Google Books gives a few unlikely possibilities for fiction using the word "wurple":

The Rise of Aurora West

Aurora: Um... Dad? Have you ever heard of a monster called, uh... Wurple?

Dad: Wurple? Can't say that I have. Usually... ...they have creepier names.

Lexiland: (no relation ;)

ME: Where's your rabbit?

RORY: It's all wurple.

Tales of Imperfection Complete Collection

Ivy: Purple, wurple! That rhymes, mama!

Memoirs of a Space Traveler: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy:

"Attorney Wurple's view that Mattrass was sometimes a planet, sometimes a robot, and sometimes nothing at all..."

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