Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death

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"Love Is the Plan the Plan is Death" is also the name of an album by James Blackshaw.

"Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death"
AuthorJames Tiptree, Jr.
Genre(s)Science fiction short story
Published inThe Alien Condition
Publication typeAnthology
PublisherBallantine Books
Media typePrint
Publication dateApril 1973

"Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death" is a short story by James Tiptree, Jr., a pen name used by American writer Alice Sheldon. The novella won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 1973.[1] It first appeared in the anthology The Alien Condition, edited by Stephen Goldin, published by Ballantine Books in April 1973.[2]


Moggadeet is a spider-like creature who has decided that, since he is intelligent, he will resist the instincts which lead his species through an exceptionally violent life-cycle which they call "the Plan" — including a drop in intelligence during winter.

As the years go by, Moggadeet gradually realizes that the winters are becoming longer and longer, and it is more and more difficult for him to resist becoming an unintelligent animal. In summer, he devises a plan to break out of the cycle: he captures and stockpiles prey for himself and his mate Lilliloo to eat during the winter, while holed up in a relatively warmer zone, in an attempt to keep his intelligence. However, after Lilliloo grows bigger than Moggadeet, she eats him. This too turns out to be part of the Plan, which Moggadeet was unable to escape.


"Love is the Plan the Plan is Death" has appeared in the following collections:[3]


"Love is the Plan the Plan Is Death" won the 1974 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and was ranked 3rd in the Locus Magazine poll for Best Short Fiction.

Kirkus Reviews called it "highly lauded",[4] while Lewis Call described it as a "bizarre but beautiful alien love story", emphasizing the contrast between Moggadeet's relationship with Lilliloo, and BDSM.[5] The Washington Post considered that the "image (of) an intelligent species whose biological imperatives compel females to devour their mates (...) is dramatized with the directness of an arrow striking a bullseye".[6]

For his acclaimed 2016 video artwork, Love is the Message, the Message is Death, filmmaker and artist Arthur Jafa invoked Tiptree's story in the echoed title structure.[7] The video, an indictment of America's simultaneous love affair with black culture and murder and oppression of black people, takes on added resonance when considered alongside Tiptree's tale of cannibalistic destruction intertwined with love.


  1. ^ Clute and Nicholls 1995, p. 1231.
  2. ^ Von Ruf, Al. "Publication Listing "The Alien Condition"". Internet Speculative Fiction Data Base. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Bibliography: Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death". ISFDB. Retrieved June 11, 2013
  4. ^ The Slow Unveiling of James Tiptree Jr., by Andrew Liptak; published November 6, 2014; retrieved August 18, 2016
  5. ^ BDSM in American Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Lewis Call; published October 19, 2012, by Springer Publishing (via Google Books); retrieved August 18, 2016
  6. ^ LOVE IS THE PLAN, THE PLAN IS DEATH, by Gregory Feeley; published August 19, 1990; retrieved August 18, 2016
  7. ^ Jafa, Arthur (April 2017). "Love is the Message, The Plan is Death". e-flux Journal (81). Retrieved May 31, 2018.

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