The Literary Review in the UK has given out a Bad Sex in Fiction Award since 1993. It's a coveted literary recognition indeed; even Morrissey took the prize home in 2015. While there are some valid critiques about the very existence of the thing— TD Storm at LitHub has argued that the award tends to conflate the author with the narrator, making it "entirely deaf to intent and tone and a passage's relation to the larger narrative—I find it to be a delightful thing to read aloud with friends and family, particularly after a night of drinking.
(For some reason, my family disagrees, but whatever.)
Twitter user Yves Peirsman had the brilliant idea to take this a step further. He ran this year's nominated passages through the Write with Transformer AI Neural Network, just to see what kind of steamy computer action it would come up with:
@Lit_Review has published this year's shortlist for its #BadSex in Fiction award. I used @huggingface's "write with transformer" app to find out if #artificialintelligence would do better. The results are sometimes delightful, sometimes disturbing, always original. #deeplearning pic.twitter.com/yBSZyFZTLt
— Yves Peirsman (@yvespeirsman) November 29, 2019
I'm genuinely impressed that the computer was able to parse the innuendo and come up with something like "His cock was so hard that it was touching her lips," even when there were no genitals explicitly mentioned in the source passage.
This year's nominees were announced on Wednesday, November 27, with the final award given out on Monday, December 2—but when it comes to bad sex writing, we're all winners in the end.
Image via cometstarmoon/Flickr