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Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation 264

Posted by timothy
from the what-is-this-sex-thing-anyhow dept.
danny writes "Having problems with your sex life? Read on for my review of Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation -- it may not get you laid, but you can have some fun learning about the evolutionary biology and natural history of sex." With that disclaimer in mind, read on for the rest.
Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
author Olivia Judson
pages 308
publisher Vintage
rating 9
reviewer Danny Yee
ISBN 0099283751
summary the evolutionary biology of sex

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation mimics a write-in advice column, in which anthropomorphised animals of all kinds ask for help with their sex lives. That is just the framework, however, for an entertaining tour of the natural history and evolutionary biology of sex. Pretty much every aspect of animal sex is at least touched on, though the "all creation" of the title is an exaggeration -- there's only the occasional reference to plants and bacteria, with nothing (for example) on the fascinating topic of pollination.

The columns are grouped thematically in thirteen chapters, divided into three parts. Part one covers the "expenses" involved in sex, female promiscuity, conflicts between males, and alternative strategies for those who are poor and small. Part two covers sex and cannibalism, sex and violence (male and female), love potions and homosexuality, and monogamy. And part three looks at incest, at hermaphroditism, facultative sex and other variants, and at asexuality and theories for the evolution and persistence of sex.

Each column typically runs to four or five pages, beginning with a question.

Dear Dr. Tatiana,

I'm an Australian redback spider, and I'm a failure. I said to my darling, "Take, eat, this is my body," and I vaulted into her jaws. But she spat me out and told me to get lost. Why did she spurn the ultimate sacrifice?

Dr. Tatiana never answers directly, but looks around first at other species with similar or related problems

"... most guys prefer not to be eaten at all. ... In the scorpion Paruroctonus mesaensis, the male whacks his partner several times before racing off; in the wolf spider Lycosa rabida, the male tosses his lover in the air, leaving her in a crumpled heap as he hurries away.

... In the bristle worm Nereis caudata, something similar goes on but for once it's the man who eats his wife.

... Do other males eat their mates? I have never heard of it. But note: this is not to say males don't eat females. They do. Just not during sex. Platonic cannibalism is a problem for creatures from apes to amoebae. It's depraved out there."

and sets the question in a broader context

"... It goes without saying that such a death wish can evolve only in special circumstances. That is, being eaten must mean you leave more offspring than if you are spared. So far, your species is the only one known to meet this criterion. A male redback who gets himself munched fertilizes more eggs than a male who survives. Why? ... it turns out that sex takes longer when she's chewing away on you, which gives you the chance to deliver more sperm and thus fertilize more eggs. So your challenge is to make yourself more appetizing."

before finishing with the answer, if there is one.

"The secret is picking your moment. Female redbacks aren't greedy; when they're not hungry, they don't eat. If you offer yourself right after she's feasted, forget it. You've got to wait until she gets that mean and hungry look in all eight of her beady little eyes. And then, for what you are about to receive, may your kiddies be truly thankful."

Links to many different areas of biology are explored.

"Lysin, the protein that determines whether an abalone sperm can enter an abalone egg, is evolving at record speed. Tantalizingly, abalone are also splitting into new species at a startling rate."

And for those who want to follow up specific topics in the technical literature, there are thirty pages of notes, giving annotated references for each column, with pointers into a forty page bibliography. (Though a short recommended reading list of non-technical popular works on evolution would have been a more useful inclusion for most readers.)

Sex Advice to All Creation assumes no background in biology, and there's the occasional wordy or repetitive explanation. But even scientists for whom the evolutionary biology is old hat are likely to find some new details in the natural history. The chatty tone and the framing conceit of an advice column -- extended in the last chapter to a mock television show -- remain entertaining and decorative, never pushed so far they become annoying or distort the science.

"If you are not a hermaphrodite, incest is best if you come from a species where males have only one set of genes. If you're not a member of such a species, I urge you to avoid sex with your nearest and dearest."


You can purchase Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation

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  • by Pingular (670773) on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:46PM (#7359279)
    This is Slashdot, the only problems with people's sex life here is that they don't have one.
    • by Pingular (670773) on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:54PM (#7359405)
      I was suprised to not see this, but here's a link to Dr Tatiana's Website [drtatiana.com].
    • Which is confirmed by the fact that a normal /. post would have at least 3 times the amount of comments by now

      Or maybe they all went to read the book...
    • by NineNine (235196)
      ... not all of us are fat and pasty, with spit coming out of the corners of our mouth when we talk, which so happens to always be about computerth. I get laid on a *very* regular basis (no, I'm not married), AND I've been posting on /. for a while now. So there.
    • by unoengborg (209251) on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:58PM (#7359468) Homepage
      Real slashdotters doesn't see this as a problem.

    • Anyone who is a serious geek and hacker and who wants to get laid and cannot get laid is not worthy to be called a geek or a hacker. I can understand that some geeks/hackers don't get laid because they devote much time to their projects that they see sex as a waste of resource in terms of time investment, emotional investment, etc... Human beings are computers, meat machines, they accept input using their senses (hearing, seeing, feeling) and they respond with output (feeling, speech, touch). The appro
      • by yali (209015) on Friday October 31, 2003 @02:07PM (#7360392)
        Sorry for the OT post, but I have to say it: As psychological theory, NLP is bunk. The reason it seems to work is that it gets guys to play the odds. Rejection stings, so most guys get rejected once and then go home and sulk. But when you've paid thousands of dollars for a "speed seduction" course to learn a supposedly deterministic system, you treat rejection as your failure to implement the system correctly and go into debugging mode, rather than taking it as an indictment of your inherent worthiness.

        Every guy I've ever known who has lots of casual sex told me that he got rejected all the time. If 1 woman out of 10 is willing to have casual sex with you, you'll still get rejected an average of 9 times for every successful attempt. Most guys can't put up with that unless they're extremely self-confident or they have something like NLP to distance themselves from the hurt of rejection.
        • I never paid for any book, all the books I read where from the library. I also mentioned it is not enough, you have to incorporate your own techniques which comes with pratice. do you learn to program a computer by reading a book and just a book? no, you actually have to write code! pratice is needed! do you write a program perfectly each time? no, sometimes you make mistakes, and you have to edit/recompile. It is not a random game or a game of number. I did not pay any money for any course, I do not
      • "How so called geeks and hackers can not pick up books and study this baffles me." Show me the book that can compensate for two decades of missed basic socialization experience that most people go through. Where is the book that advises one on how to attract intelligent women that aren't swayed by "seduction methods" - the ones that do not frequent rowdy clubs, or dance to gangsta rap (perfectly fine hobbies, but not shared by all males who desire mates)? And, most importantly, what "neuro-linguistic" trick will transform a decidedly ugly male into something that is desirable to human females? No, alcohol doesn't count - see above. Some of us are interested in something more than toll-free prostitution - actual relationships, for instance. While males are stereotyped as creatures obsessed with appearances, it seems that for men there is a "sliding scale" of what is acceptable, and we can move our standards up or down as required, depending on what is available. For women, however, one can't help but notice that there is a minimum standard of "male beauty" which rarely varies, and women - with their controllable sex drive - are perfectly happy to remain celibate until a visually appealing and culturally-appropriate male is found. It is a fallacy that all males who are alone are lazy, stupid, or simply do not know where to look.
        • You talk like a victim. The former post did have a good point. You have to change your worldview, if you want things to change. I may not agree with the methods he listed, but it's true that our beliefs are fundamental in our interactions with the world.

          If you think you don't stand a chance because of your looks, that WILL, believe me, reflect in ALL the people that you encounter. Their subconsciousness will pick up your insecurity right away, and treat you like you believe they will.

          Have you every met a
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday October 31, 2003 @02:42PM (#7360803)
        > Human beings are computers, meat machines, they accept input using their senses (hearing, seeing, feeling) and they respond with output (feeling, speech, touch). The appropriate input gets you the right output just like any normal functioning computer does.
        >
        > Humans are not universal machines, they are more complex and the inputs varies based on culture, social class, environment and such, so to program them, one has to be aware of all that.
        >
        >[snip big NLP plug]

        On that note - on geeks and getting laid, or lack thereof:

        "[...] for a group of healthy college-age males, there was remarkably little discussion of a topic which commonly obsesses groups of that composition. Females. Though some led somewhat active social lives, the key figures in TMRC-PDP hacking had locked themselves into what would be called 'bachelor mode.' It was easy to fall into -- for one thing -- as opposed to the hopelessly random problems in a human relationship -- which made hacking particularly attractive. But an even weightier factor was the hackers' impression that computing was much more /important/ than getting involved in a romantic relationship. It was a question of priorities. Hacking had replaced sex in their lives."

        "[Hacking] was a mission. You would hack, and you would live by the Hacker Ethic, and you knew that that horribly inefficient and wasteful things like women burned too many cycles, occupied too much memory space. 'Women, even today, are considered grossly unpredictable,' one PDP-6 hacker noted, almost two decades later. 'How can a hacker tolerate such an imperfect being?'

        - Hackers: Heroes of the computer revolution, Steven Levy.

        Whether NLP can get me laid or not doesn't matter to me. The more I interact with individual humans, the more I realize they aren't the kind of machines I'm interested in programming, especially for something as easily-obtainable as orgasm.

      • Gee, sex advice on slashdot. Isn't this like a guy who was blind from birth trying to describe a rainbow to another blind guy?

        I'm sure there are many slashdot readers who have sex. There are many others who don't. But I doubt that the ones who are can help the ones who aren't. Getting laid isn't like writing a "hello world" program, it's more like riding a bike no-handed.

        Writing a program is pretty deterministic. You figure out the rules of the programming language, and then implement it. Someo

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This has nothing to do with anything remotely Slashdot related, but I need to do something before my head explodes:

      As I type this, my roomate and my best friend/recent lover are fucking in the next room over. WHAT THE FUCK. After 10 years of friendship and built-up sexual tension, we finally hooked up and now less than a week later she's banging my roomate. I am so fucking incensed right now I can't think straight. I wouldn't mind if they went to a hotel or otherwise didn't make it known, but she just FUCK
      • You're probably just trolling, but I'll reply seriously anyway.

        If she's really your best friend, I think it would pretty stupid for you not to talk to her. Some time when you are alone with her, just ask her what's up between the two of you. It makes you feel very uncomfortable when she sleeps with you and then also sleeps with your roommate.

        Don't be a prick about it either. It's hard to keep calm and logical, but letting your emotions overwhelm your good sense is a path to a miserable life. Obviously yo
    • > This is Slashdot, the only problems with people's sex life here is that they don't have one.

      That's not a bug, it's a feature, and it's working as intended! From an old joke, source attributed to NASA's JPL:

      Every engineer needs both a wife and a mistress.

      The way it works, is you tell your wife you're spending the night with your mistress, and you tell your mistress you're with the wife, and you can finally get back down to the lab and work!

    • This is Slashdot, the only problems with people's sex life here is that they don't have one.

      In addition to "IANAL" posts, we can add "IANAST" (I Am Not A Sex Therapist) posts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:46PM (#7359282)
    Next thing we are going to see penis enlargement stories.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There's nothing in the review that justifies the one point deduction!
  • $1.40 cheaper (Score:2, Informative)

    by zontroll (714448)
    Referral: Amazon has this book for $1.40 cheaper than bn [amazon.com]
    Spend $13.80 more to get free shipping.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:47PM (#7359309)
    It said that this book won't get me laid, and guess what. It didn't. 4 stars.
  • by rednuhter (516649) on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:51PM (#7359366) Homepage Journal
    I was dissapointed when two thirds of the way through the book ended (it was a small paer back to start with) the last third was notes etc.
    But regardless it was a fun read, turned a few heads on the train ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "I was dissapointed when two thirds of the way through the book ended (it was a small paer back to start with) the last third was notes etc."

      So now you know how women feel about sex.
    • I was dissapointed when two thirds of the way through the book ended (it was a small paer back to start with) the last third was notes etc

      I had the opposite reaction--the real meat of the book was in the notes. Personally, I could have done without the "advice to the lovelorn" hook, which seemed awkward and contrived. But perhaps that is justified if it helps the book find a wider audience. One thing good about that is that the book dispells a lot of commonly held false notions about what is "natural" wh

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:52PM (#7359380)
    ...should not have 'creation' in the title.
    • Just because certain quaint notions are no longer held as fact does not mean that they cannot be used as a metaphor.;)

      For example, I don't believe in Good and Evil, but I am still perfectly willing to call your post EVIL EVIL EVIL.:P
  • Funniest thing... I typed slashdot.org, but It looks like I got www.salon.com. Where the hell did this review come from?
  • by siphoncolder (533004) on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:57PM (#7359457) Homepage
    "We apologize for the inconvenience"
  • don't buy the book (Score:4, Informative)

    by brad3378 (155304) on Friday October 31, 2003 @12:58PM (#7359462)
    .... when you can get better advice for free:

    http://www.sosuave.com/ [sosuave.com] - this one is my favorite for content, but the interface sucks

    I haven't looked at this one much, but it has potential.
    http://fastseduction.com/guide/ [fastseduction.com]

    and a couple more:
    http://www.blowmeuptom.com/index2.html [blowmeuptom.com]

    http://askmen.com/ [askmen.com]

    No, I wouldn't consider myself a player - far from it, but yes I do read these websites. You can always learn from others even if you don't agree with their philosophies. If you'd consider yourself more of a "niceguy" than a "player", you should still read this stuff and figure out what you need to do differently to start scoring.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, I wouldn't consider myself a player - far from it, but yes I do read these websites.

      Ummm.. No one is going to assume you are a player because you read these websites.
    • I think you missed the point of the book. It's about the evolution of sex throughout the animal kingdom, written in the form of advice column letters. Nothing in the review about humans.
    • You do realize that the point of this book is to provide *scientific* information about the evolution of sex in various species, right? This isn't at book intended to teach you how to be a player. Maybe you should try reading the review next time. After all, I find it's often helpful, when commenting, to actually understand what you're commenting on.
    • You didn't read the book, did you?
      You didn't even read the review.

      The cover of the book shows two bright blue weevils making little weevils. This should clue you in.

      This is not a book about how a man can have a good time bumping nasties with a woman. It's a book about how rotifers, hyenas, stick insects and bee-eaters do the deed with other rotifers, hyenas, stick insects and bee-eaters. It's evolutionary biology case studies styled like an advice column so that people will enjoy reading it.
  • Wait for her... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Friday October 31, 2003 @01:01PM (#7359508)
    "The secret is picking your moment. Female redbacks aren't greedy; when they're not hungry, they don't eat. If you offer yourself right after she's feasted, forget it. You've got to wait until she gets that mean and hungry look in all eight of her beady little eyes. And then, for what you are about to receive, may your kiddies be truly thankful."

    This is some good advice. The best way to get laid is not to pursue, and not to give a shit. If she's interested, let her chase you down. Hell, make her wait. Then when the time is right, BAM! Crazy, hot, dirty monkey sex.
    • "The secret is picking your moment. Female redbacks aren't greedy; when they're not hungry, they don't eat. If you offer yourself right after she's feasted, forget it. You've got to wait until she gets that mean and hungry look in all eight of her beady little eyes. And then, for what you are about to receive, may your kiddies be truly thankful."

      This is some good advice. The best way to get laid is not to pursue, and not to give a shit. If she's interested, let her chase you down. Hell, make her wait. Then
      • (sigh) kids, kids, kids. You can make an initial approach, but that initial approach can be just a look or a gesture. You don't walk up to a woman and say some version of "I like you. Let's fuck." or "I really like and respect you. Let's date." The game isn't played like that. You make her come after YOU. And yes, you make her wait, because all of that waiting makes her want you even more. If she's interested, she'll wait until you're ready. It's called having a bit of self respect. Once you're in
      • Umm, dude, believe it or not some guys DO get hit on. A LOT. Ninenine has it right here. The secret to having "game" is to not have ANY game because you don't really care. Check out "The Tao of Steve" to see what I mean.
    • This was modded *insightful*???
  • by botzi (673768) on Friday October 31, 2003 @01:09PM (#7359605)
    No. But I should say that's the most original first line from a /. book review in a loooooong time......
  • Hey! (Score:2, Insightful)

    I suggested this in my journal [slashdot.org] back in june. I guess I shoulda written a review.
  • by Cyclopedian (163375) on Friday October 31, 2003 @01:16PM (#7359690) Journal
    Step 1) Move out of your parents house and into your own apartment/house/townhouse/condo.

    Step 2) Invite female friend for dinner.

    Step 3) ????

    Step 4) uh, profit? More like score!

    Ok MODS, I'm ready for you!

    -Cyc
  • "This song goes out all you guys who ain't gettin' laid. And that is every last one of you. Sexcow!" -- Oderus, Level 5 show, the Roseland, NYC, Halloween, 1997.
  • by corvi42 (235814) on Friday October 31, 2003 @01:26PM (#7359812) Homepage Journal
    Here's an interview with Dr. Tatiana herself, available online in real and ogg courtesy of the Canadian Brodcasting Corp.:
    http://www.radio.cbc.ca/programs/quirks/ar chives/0 2-03/jan18.html
  • NPR Interview (Score:2, Informative)

    by centauri (217890)
    I first heard about this book when the author was interviewed on NPR [npr.org]. It was just like a normal interview with callers and everything, but the callers were actors pretending to be slime molds, or wasps, or birds or whatever asking her for advice. Really hilarious.
  • Slashdot, News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters...

    There is definately a broad list of topics you can fit in that blurb, however I fail to see the reason why we have a review (good review) of a book that doesn't quite seem to fit. If someone reviewed a Howard Stern book would we post it here? With this post it seems like we could, but I don't think that would fit in the "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters" category.

    Good review, funny book btw
  • by symbolic (11752) on Friday October 31, 2003 @01:52PM (#7360185)

    But when it comes to humans, I don't get it. I could understand if we, as humans, had to constantly struggle for survival (as a species), but this clearly isn't the case. With 6.5 billion and counting, does continued proliferation ever stop making sense?

    A friend tells that a common acquaintance is expecting a fourth. I'm supposed to get excited? I guess families can be nice (though often fraught with dysfunction of one sort or another), but what about the big picture? Is there still something to proving one's verility? What have you proven exactly? And does the mere fact that someone can add to the 6.5 billion already in place, really mean anything?

    It's all a "been there done that" proposition in my eyes. I'd rather focus on tending to what we already have, than continue to pile more and more onto the heap.
    • The problem is that the right people are not reproducing. Ideally, all groups should have the same birth rates. Western europe and japan for example have incredibly low birth rates while the third world is growing out of control. This is entiry economic. The west has access to relatively cheap birth control while actually raising a child is dredfully expensive if you do everything society requires of you. The third world can't afford contraceptives, while the standard of living allows for far cheaper c
    • I share your thoughts, but the biggest problem with our point of view is summed up in a joke my high school sweetheart told me: "The intelligence of the planet is a constant. The population is growing."

      The worst part is that welfare mothers are "paid"[1] to have kids, whereas the more successful realize that they can't afford a large family and thus have no or few children. If the successful had large families, then they may end up on welfare due to the expense! So the result is that smarter people bre

    • I assume, kind sir, that you don't have any children... and furthermore, that is a very good thing!
  • by bwoodard (4340) on Friday October 31, 2003 @01:56PM (#7360241) Homepage
    This book review does not do this book justice. The book is much better than the reviewer seems to give it credit for. The book teaches you a vast amount natural history and biology in a way that is in such stark contrast to the typical dry and often times unrefined and boring presentation of scientific literature that you find yourself quite eager to delve into the next chapter. In particular, the book is actually funny and you find yourself laughing at the subtlety of the setups that the author puts the creatures in. You get the feeling like she spent literally days watching shows like Jerry Springer and contriving these scenarios. All the broached taboos that make shows like Jerry Springer so facinating to some people are represented in this book through the sex lives of various animals. It is almost unsettling at times how, things that are so universally verboten in our species are normal in other species. The book continues to surprise you with the extremely deviant sexual behavior and breaks down your aversion to it by explaining how it fits into the context of the lives of the creatures that practice it.

    The breaking down of taboos surrounding sexuality is the slightly hidden agenda of the book. By presenting, the wide breadth of sexual behavior in the animal kingdom, in such a matter of fact way you become increasingly aware of how limited your own sexual repitoir truly is. The universal truths that you unquestioningly accept such as incest is bad, and females are chaste while men are promiscious are not quite as universal as you have been led to believe and that opens you up to a new way of thinking about the world.

    Toward the beginning of the book and near the end Judson lifts her skirt just a little bit and hints at the book's hidden agenda and her personal feelings about sex after writing this whole book about on the topic. What she revealed and what she kept hidden reminded me of that old quote about bikinis, "What it reveals is suggestive, what it conceals is vital". This few paragraphs very effectively communicated to me that Ms Judson was not just a well lettered academic; the very pretty Ms. Judson also understands human sexuality and in particular the art being a seductress. She did this so well that after I finished the book, I had a serious crush on her for several weeks.
  • Mares? (Score:3, Funny)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Friday October 31, 2003 @02:36PM (#7360723) Homepage Journal
    How is the interspecies sex covered in the book? I really wonder what approach does the author take on that. True, Incest is fun for whole family, being a bi doubles your chances, and being a herm gives you at least twice as much positions, but still in means of pleasure nothing beats old-fashioned bucket and cuddly fluffy mare rump.
  • The Sexual Connection: Mating the Wild Way [amazon.com] is another book in a similar vein. It skips the whole advice column thing, but delves into some of the weird and interesting things animals (and people) do to procreate.

    It's an old book though, so some of the info is outdated (or proven incorrect), and it's not always easy to get a copy.
  • by pHatidic (163975) on Friday October 31, 2003 @04:22PM (#7361938)
    Hey all I am cute 17f blonde. I want you! I will sleep with all those who moderate this post plus one!

    --Karma Whore :)

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