Feb. 12 2013 10:19 PM

How seriously can you take a novel about extraterrestrial poontang?

sex-dave
Andrew Armacost and his muscles
Photo by Dave Maass

Andrew Armacost makes one request before the interview begins: He doesn't mind if this piece makes him seem evil; he just doesn't want to look stupid. 

Although he's pushing 40, the Naval officer-turned-writer could just as well be a bro in his late 20s—with a shaved head and bulging muscles, he looks more like pro-wrestling's John Cena than E.M. Forrester, an English novelist he likes to quote. 

Armacost describes his latest novel as science fiction in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut and Philip José Farmer, combined with the erotic literature of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, with a voice redolent of Irvine Welsh. 

The book is titled Space Bush: A Sex Addict's Guide to the Galaxy, and it's 214 pages of nut-busting adventure across a universe of poonani. That's his narrator's terminology, not ours. 

The story is told in the slacker voice of Paul Miller, a non-custodial father in a dead-end job, who's kidnapped by aliens and sold into slavery along with his sex-addict-support-group buddy Fred Reap, a Samuel L. Jackson-esque prison guard. After they escape from their captors—named "Dickheads" because they have penises in place of noses and balls where their ears should be—the pair sign up for a reality-TV show where they fly around the galaxy on a space train, earning points for boning alien women. If they win, Miller and Reap can use the prize money to return to Earth. 

As a biology major in college, Armacost was especially interested in imagining how human anatomy dictates sexual relations. For example, what if males and females didn't tend to differ in size? What if you could tell ovulation by sight? There's an element of Gulliver's Travels to the book, with the characters moving from planet to planet, where sexual politics, proclivities and physiologies are taken to satirical extremes. 

"I try to take a very lighthearted look at very serious questions," he says. "A lot of what we take to be norms are just a product of our accidental biology to a large extent." 

The characters get it on with large women, miniature women, women with bird heads, women with erogenous blowholes, women with cloacae (a single orifice for excretion and reproduction), women with translucent skin who can only climax if they watch the semen moving through their lower organs. 

"It was like going down on a sunflower," the narrator says of oral sex with a botanic humanoid from the planet Parna. "The overall layout of the vagina, I mean. Nevertheless, I quickly found my rhythm. She started gushing with appreciation. Literally. It tasted like an artichoke heart." 

Regarding a sex robot that looks exactly like Rihanna: "And then her magnificent pussy, now semi-detached, began to spin in circles as she moved expertly up and down, introducing my cock to a whole new dimension concerning the sport of fucking as she locked her bottomless eyes on mine."

As juvenile as Armacost's language is, as lazily as the plot rambles, Space Bush was written with measured deliberation. The characters struggle with internal conflicts, particularly Miller, who develops erectile dysfunction and an obsession with a television channel devoted to broadcasting live suicides. Armacost says he drew inspiration from living for 10 years in Singapore and Afghanistan and the sense of alienation and otherness that comes with being a white male overseas. 

"I think that any writer who sits down and wants to steal or borrow time from a reader in 2013 and beyond has to acknowledge that we're all busy and there's a lot of [other] media out there," says Armacost, who moved to San Diego three months ago. "If literature and writing is going to continue to be relevant and continue to justify its existence, it has to be something other than film can do, and I think something written as rawly as this could not be easily or readily brought to the screen." 

Indeed, a Space Bush movie would be difficult to mount, both in terms of the Avatar-level special effects it would require and the poor return on investment usually associated with X-rated films. The book would, however, lend itself well to Heavy Metal-style animation or, perhaps, one of the epic, dramatized audio serials marketed to truckers in highway gas stations. 

Armacost is working on another novel, Iceberg Slim Goes to Oz, in which the notorious real-life Chicago pimp travels to Oz and turns out Dorothy. He's trying simultaneously to find a publisher for a more serious work, A Poor Man Guide's to Suicide, which follows a non-custodial father who's also a prison guard (a composite of the two friends who served as the models for Space Bush's protagonists), who hires an inmate to kill him.

Even as a work of low-brow fantasy, Space Bush was an effort eight years in the making, swinging between over-indulgence and self-censorship. 

"The final version I was pretty happy with was a lot less literary," he says. "I guess I wanted anybody to be able to pick it up, make it less challenging, less literary, something that didn't take itself as seriously, wasn't as concerned with providing answers but asking questions."

Like, how do you screw an extraterrestrial who has a vagina in her throat?

Email davem@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter @DaveMaass.

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