Sex in space is still more a matter of science fiction than public record -- and soon it might even be award-winning science fiction.
The Uranus Experiment: Part 2, an adult film produced by Barcelona-based Private Media Group, is up for a Nebula award, science fiction's highest professional honor.
Private Media referred to the nomination for best script from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as "prestigious," and issued a press release commemorating the event.
"It's great to get recognition," Private President and CEO Berth Milton told SPACE.com in an exclusive interview.
"Y'know, in some ways there are similarities between how people perceive our industries. Some people watch science fiction movies, enjoy them, but then turn around and make fun of 'Trekkies' or Star Wars fans. In much the same way, people enjoy our products and services, but often don't admit to it in public."
Close encounter of a unique kind
Writer-director John Millerman looked back to classic science fiction trilogies like Star Wars and Foundation for the Uranus Experiment saga, allowing his epic story of sex in space to unfold over the course of three films.
Whether it wins the Nebula on Saturday or not, the series will retain a unique place in cinematic history thanks to the first installment, which boasts the first explicit sex scene shot in zero gravity conditions.
The scene was filmed by flying an airplane to an altitude of 11,000 feet. The plane, containing performers Sylvia Saint and Nick Lang, then went into a steep dive, creating the momentary illusion of weightlessness.
Insiders described the filming process as particularly messy from a technical and logistical standpoint.
Budgeting constraints allowed Saint and Lang, who portray astronauts, only one shot at a perfect zero-G take, leaving the actors with only a narrow 20-second window of time in which to launch themselves toward one another and complete the scene.
Protest, joke or achievement?
Despite the technological innovations involved in the series, some high-ranking members of the SFWA were not amused by the Nebula nomination.
"The Uranus Experiment Part Two was placed on the Nebula ballot by a bloc of writers who were (1) protesting the fact that the SFWA members voted to re-institute the Dramatic Nebula award, and (2) thought it would be 'fun' to put a hardcore porn film on the ballot," said Ann C. Crispin, SFWA vice president.
"Not my idea of a joke, but perhaps I'm humor-impaired."
Crispin added that the SFWA "is not happy" about the choice, but "we're not in the business of censoring our members' choices."
She did not expect the film to win the award.
The other films nominated for the Nebula are The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, The Iron Giant and Showtime original The Devil's Arithmetic.