Anna Anthropy’s Hunt for the Gay Planet is a hilarious piece of satire and a great way to end our journey through the world of electronic literature. I don’t always read the descriptions of elit pieces, but this time, I’m glad I did. The story is more impactful and the humor lands better if you understand that Hunt is satirizing a Star Wars game that only allows in-game homosexual romance on one planet. There are even Star Wars references sprinkled throughout, like when the protagonist mentions visiting the “seediest hive of scum and villainy.” Knowing its purpose makes the piece feel pretty straightforward; every scene is a clear satire of the lack of queer representation in video games.
Of course, Hunt wouldn’t be a satire without humor. The story is bursting with goofy puns and ridiculous situations (none of which will be anymore after I over analyze them, but I’ve never been squeamish about dissections). For example, when the protagonist explores the planets and finds evidence of ancient tools, she asks herself, “Could they have been gay tools?” Obviously, it’s ridiculous to imagine that an inanimate object could be homosexual (the same way it’s ridiculous to view video games as heterosexual spaces).
Our heroine is full of witty quips, like when she points out the irony of walking straight through a tunnel when she can’t even think straight, or when the police on Lesbionica tie her up, and she becomes “annoyed to find [her] libido having conflicting feelings about this.” The humor in this piece has a greater purpose; it highlights the ridiculousness of the current culture surrounding video games, which usually feature straight male protagonists with the occasional token character sprinkled in as an afterthought.
The format of this game, which reads like a traditional sci-fi adventure story, enhances its satire. The heroine’s quest through the galaxy is filled with suspense, like when she searches through every room in an ancient cave until finally, after extensive exploration, she finds a hidden, ancient carving that “depicts… A man and a woman holding hands.” This kind of anti-climatic let down is a subversion of the average gamer’s expectations of adventure and action.
This type of ironic subversion of expectations happens multiple times throughout Hunt, such as when the protagonist finds a planet that looks like paradise. Anthropy carefully crafts vivid descriptions of placid waters and lush grass, and she adds a sense of mystery and intrigue by introducing psychic forces that tug at the protagonist’s mind. The culmination of this sequence is hilarious, as a breathtaking psychic whale floats magnificently out of the water to ask, “Do you have a boyfriend?” Although I found this scene entertaining, the protagonist is justifiably frustrated. The entire galaxy makes assumptions about her sexuality and treats heterosexual relationships as the norm, which I imagine must get tiring both for fictional space lesbians and for gay people in real life.
The conclusion of Hunt is filled with brilliant satire, as well. The sloppy, inelegant kiss between the heroine and her lover subverts expectations, especially for straight male readers who may have a fetishistic view of lesbian relationships. This kiss is just one element of the satirical conclusion, which takes all of the traditional action hero tropes and applies them to the type of character we don’t usually see in popular video games. The gay, female protagonist expertly disarms the evil queen to save the day, get the girl, and rescue the galaxy from stifling straightness.