naamah_darling: Close cropped image of a blonde ponytailed man with a woman pulling a black stocking tightly around his neck. (BDSM)

Woman in black corset and white shirt with a black hat.

 

Peter Tupper wrote "Koenigsberg's Model", probably the most remarkable story in the already-remarkable Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica, which I reviewed here.  I was pleased to get my hands on his anthology shortly after that, and once I read it I was really sorry that I didn't get to reading it sooner.  It's an excellent book and one that I recommend picking up if steampunk erotica is your thing.

It's been said that steampunk is more of an aesthetic than a literary genre, that aside from "machines and mad science are awesome; also, it's brown" it has no underlying ethic, nothing to say.  I disagree, and books like this are why.  Tupper reaches for something more than atmospheric and sexy, and comes away with a handful of exceptional tales that illustrate what steampunk as an evolving genre is all about.

It is theme, not merely set dressing, that makes something steampunk.  The expected accoutrements – distant airships, strange devices, rare manuscripts, goggles – are present here, sometimes centrally and sometimes only peripherally, but what really makes these stories a part of the genre is the pervasive feel of a world on the brink of massive social and technological change.

Without respect for history, any steampunk setting lacks depth.  The love Tupper has for the history and literature of the time comes through, even though (with one exception) these are not real-world stories.  The alternate world of The Innocent's Progress is populated with homages to figures, both prominent and obscure, from the history of art, exploration, and scholarship.

Five of the six stories in The Innocent's Progress are set in the Victorian era of the same not-quite-earth.  Tupper vividly evokes the disparities inherent in the setting – differences in social status, between the lives of the very rich and very poor, the rigid boundaries of race and social standing – and uses them as a backdrop for his nuanced and interesting characters.

Any setting based on the Victorian era has some pretty thorny problems to wrestle with.  Many writers gloss over these (hey, guilty) or, in fantasy that does not take place in the real world, they simply write it away.  Tupper doesn't ignore these issues.  He uses them: the racism that leads to both exotification and oppression; the rigidly-stratified society that requires the presence of an oppressed underclass to function; the barriers presented by race, gender, social class.  He's never tiresome about it, but the narratives function as a commentary on the Victorian era as a time of both great repression and great possibility, and also as a commentary on our own time.

The gem of the setting is the Commedia (indeed, inspired by the historical Commedia dell'Arte), a form of erotic theater in which the players assume certain roles.  Most of the interconnected stories deal with the Commedia in some way, and it is central to a couple of them.  It's an imaginative, beautiful metaphor, and the parallels with modern BDSM subculture are obvious but not overstated.

These are challenging stories; the guy is smart as hell, and several times I came away from a story not sure if I actually understood it.  He doesn't patronize readers by leading them around by the nose, which I appreciate.

His characters are appealing and nuanced, and exist in wonderful variety, especially the women.  It's rare to find a man who writes stories about women that speak so clearly to the female experience, but Tupper's obvious understanding does my feminist heart good.  Though he often writes with a slightly detached tone, he's not just a respectful voyeur observing his characters through the narrative keyhole; the characters' viewpoints are all distinct and fully-realized.

Several of the stories do raise the issue of race – one he worked with in "Koenigsberg's Model" – and while I admit that I am speaking from a position of privilege here, I think he handled the potentially volatile combination of era and place with good taste, using the inherent attitudes and prejudices to good effect, and at no point did I feel that he was being gross or othering.  He never uses the nastiness of the era as an excuse for ugliness and offensive characterization.  He uses it to explore the attitudes of the time, which are far from extinct today.  The most vivid character in the collection is Miss Ccri, a mixed-race demimondaine with brains and nerve . . . a genuinely strong female character.

Most of the stories are built around sexual themes rather than around sex scenes.  There's plenty of sex, really good sex, but it's all there to drive the story, not vice-versa.  He doesn't linger, and someone who is fond of very long sex scenes should know this, but I don't see it as a flaw.  He's direct, he uses appropriate period language without being absurd, and knows how to pick out critical sexy details.

The sex is BDSM/kink-oriented, but not exclusively so.  This aspect is very well-rendered.  He covers discipline, spanking, submission, some light bondage, a birching, some caning.  It varies from light and playful to moderate, but Tupper's writing has an essential darkness about it, even in its sweetness, which makes everything much more intense, so the stories come across as being a little harsher than they are.

I can't pick a favorite from the alternate-setting stories. They are all exceptional and I am sure my preferences will shift as I reread them.  "The Pretty Horsebreaker" requires "The Spirit of the Future", in my opinion, and "The Spirit of the Future" requires all the others, so reading them in the order presented is strongly recommended.  I do want to single out "Delicate Work" as a good stand-alone example of what steampunk erotica can be.  It isn't the most pleasant story, or the prettiest, or even my favorite, but it is sharp, smart, and socially relevant.  I also want to say that "The Slave" struck me as the most erotic, simply because the viewpoint character's longing was so professionally conveyed. "The Spirit of the Future" was the most satisfying – a really beautiful story in every way – but it relies heavily on the others to set up the world and characters.

And, finally, I do want to single out "The Impurity" – not related to the other stories – as absolutely incredible.  It's a re-imagining of Jekyll and Hyde, of all things, and it is by turns disturbing, sweet, pitiful, sad, funny, and scary as all hell, and it has one of the best "I am going to fucking kill you" quotes in it that I have ever read.  It knocked me off my feet.  This story is unabashedly badass, and viscerally satisfying.  I wish I had written it.

I really cannot recommend this anthology enough.  If you are a fan of steampunk and like your erotica smart and challenging, you really need this book.  Circlet tends to be good in general, but if this doesn't become a classic in its sub-genre, that's because people aren't paying attention.

naamah_darling: The letter A in a compass rose. (Adventurotica)
Our first book review is up at Adventurotica.com! Do not miss it.



Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica, edited by Jen Blackmore

I know, I know. I know what you're thinking. "Lovecraft and erotica? These things do not -- should not -- mix." But seriously, if you're a fan of horror erotica, dark erotica, don't make the mistake of passing this one over. That these stories are disturbing only makes them better at what they do. That's the point.

This is a rock-solid anthology and my hat is off to the authors, who turned in universally superior stories; also to editor Jen Blackmore, who handled with great skill and acumen the daunting task of sorting through what, judging from the quality of the stories that were selected, must have been a group of excellent manuscripts.

It would have been a disservice and a cop-out to choose stories meant solely to shock, or which approach the theme sarcastically, but there's nothing gimmicky about these stories, even when they're shocking. They're honest, loving homages meant to broaden the body of Lovecraft-related work and share appreciation of the genre. And they're good. This sort of writing can only come from people who love Lovecraft. Each one is a devotional offering lovingly placed on the altar of the mythos.

The mythos influence varies, but most stand alone; acquaintance with Lovecraft's work is helpful but not required, and they are enjoyable as horror erotica on their own. You do, however, need to be someone who appreciates the weird tale as a genre to understand just how spot-on some of these are.

I want to single out Peter Tupper's "Koenigsberg's Model," Annabel Leong's "The Artist's Retreat," and Elizabeth Reed's "The Dreams in the Laundromat" as especially praiseworthy, but the truth is that there is not a clunker in the bunch. Read them all.

I'd love to see another anthology like this. If I had it in front of me, I'd read it right now, SAN loss be damned.

So head over to the review to learn more, or go to Amazon, and get a copy of your own! And please, please review it, Like it, do what you gotta do to show the love. This anthology has been met with a lot of skepticism, and I want people to know they shouldn't be reluctant to give it a try.

It took guts to put this thing out. I'm really glad it's as good as it is.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Heath Book)
Two book notes of . . . err . . . note.

First, Cherie Priest's Boneshaker is out. I highly recommend you buy it. No, I haven't read it yet. Yes, I am sure it is awesome. No, this has nothing to do with the fact that there's an airship in it named after me. That's just bonus awesome. Thank you, Cherie. I am still totally geeking about that. I will review it when I have finished it! I'm just reading really slow these days.

And reading really slow is why my second note is so belated. Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue is a book I waited a long time to get hold of, and because of that, and because I really like Seanan in general, I want to render my opinion.

Plot: October Daye is a half-faerie detective dragged by a friend's dying curse back into the dangerous magical half-world that lies behind modern San Francisco, a world she has been trying hard to leave behind. Even as the curse itself threatens her life, she must dodge a host of otherworldly horrors intent on thwarting her enquiries into the death of a prominent noblewoman of the faery world.

This sort of magical mystery story is popular right now, and with good reason: they're a whole lot of fun. Seanan does it well, and this book, the first in a projected series, leaves me confident that future installments will only improve from here.

Her pacing is breathless, never allowing the heroine, or the reader, to sit still. This keeps tension high and makes it a hard book to put down.

I am a terrible critic of plot. As a reader I buy into suspension of disbelief very easily, so I don't look for plot holes. I can say that the plot is convoluted, that all the gears are there to turn something, and that while it did feel a little hurried in places (I like a slightly slower pace to my books) it made up for that by never being boring, and minimally predictable.

As a writer, you want your reader to catch on to trouble just a hair before your characters, or right at the same time. You want them either a little ahead or a little behind plot twists, but not too much of either. You want "Oh, shit!" not "Well, DUH!" or "Umm, huh?" Seanan walks this line really well. Unexpected things happen without seeming to come out of left field or seeming too obvious.

The line-by-line writing suits the story: direct, not dilatory. Stories like this demand functional language that's not too flashy, and that's what you get here. I appreciate that in a mystery. It's like being spoken to frankly.

The first real achievement here is the creation of a demimonde of faeries and other supernatural beings that feels inhabited. It's a first book, and the fast pace and simple prose don't lend themselves to lots of explaining, but the bones of the world are solid. It's not that the world isn't there, it's that I'm not being told as much as I want to know about it. This is a good foundation, a good way to approach worldbuilding in a series, and I look forward to seeing this world develop as the series advances.

The second achievement worthy of note is the creation of a heroine worthy of the name. October -- Toby -- is smart, tough as all hell, and practical to a fault. She has an earthy, grounded attitude, takes shit from no-one, and is a no-bullshit chick. She's not a ball-busting bitch, but she doesn't have much patience for verbal fencing. But as much as we like characters for their awesome traits, we love them for their flaws. A good character is human, and Toby is extremely human. She's not perfect. None of her flaws are flaws traditionally associated with female characters, thank goodness. In fact, I have to put Toby up there with the best female leads in this kind of fiction, and I am really glad that Seanan has created a character that absolutely has the chops to hold reader interest through a series. There is nothing whatsoever Mary-Sue-ish about Toby. Her flaws are not strengths in disguise.

The characterization in general is good but brief. The cast is large, and the tradeoff there is less time spent with any one person, but Seanan makes every character vivid and memorable. Not all of them are likeable -- something else I really appreciate. She also doesn't give in to the impulse to make all of her characters super powerful. The denizens of Faerie are very carefully portrayed as more powerful than ordinary humans, but still every bit as flawed and fallible. Not every person you meet is the Most Awesome Person Of Their Kind. They're ordinary folks.

The plot leaves threads untied and plenty of questions unresolved, yet ties up enough that we don't feel left adrift. The mark of a good first book in a series is if it is satisfying yet leaves the reader wondering "How is she going to . . . ?" We have that here.

My only complaint is that there were aspects of the ending I felt accelerated too quickly, leading some actions to feel . . . not out of character, but sudden. I can't say more than that without committing spoiler, but I can say that I am ultra-sensitive to endings and no, it wasn't a deal-breaker for me. It was a problem with physical action, what was going on on-screen, and not a flaw with the story arc or the emotional arc or the character arcs, all of which were set down quite well.

I am splitting hairs, there, but the difference between rushing the ending a bit and fouling up the whole resolution is an important hair to split. It's the difference between someone I can trust to tell a satisfying story and someone who is going to mis-handle my emotional investment.

I trust Seanan to tell me a good story next time, and I plan to let her do it. I honestly cannot think of more worthy praise than that.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Heath Book)
Two book notes of . . . err . . . note.

First, Cherie Priest's Boneshaker is out. I highly recommend you buy it. No, I haven't read it yet. Yes, I am sure it is awesome. No, this has nothing to do with the fact that there's an airship in it named after me. That's just bonus awesome. Thank you, Cherie. I am still totally geeking about that. I will review it when I have finished it! I'm just reading really slow these days.

And reading really slow is why my second note is so belated. Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue is a book I waited a long time to get hold of, and because of that, and because I really like Seanan in general, I want to render my opinion.

Plot: October Daye is a half-faerie detective dragged by a friend's dying curse back into the dangerous magical half-world that lies behind modern San Francisco, a world she has been trying hard to leave behind. Even as the curse itself threatens her life, she must dodge a host of otherworldly horrors intent on thwarting her enquiries into the death of a prominent noblewoman of the faery world.

This sort of magical mystery story is popular right now, and with good reason: they're a whole lot of fun. Seanan does it well, and this book, the first in a projected series, leaves me confident that future installments will only improve from here.

Her pacing is breathless, never allowing the heroine, or the reader, to sit still. This keeps tension high and makes it a hard book to put down.

I am a terrible critic of plot. As a reader I buy into suspension of disbelief very easily, so I don't look for plot holes. I can say that the plot is convoluted, that all the gears are there to turn something, and that while it did feel a little hurried in places (I like a slightly slower pace to my books) it made up for that by never being boring, and minimally predictable.

As a writer, you want your reader to catch on to trouble just a hair before your characters, or right at the same time. You want them either a little ahead or a little behind plot twists, but not too much of either. You want "Oh, shit!" not "Well, DUH!" or "Umm, huh?" Seanan walks this line really well. Unexpected things happen without seeming to come out of left field or seeming too obvious.

The line-by-line writing suits the story: direct, not dilatory. Stories like this demand functional language that's not too flashy, and that's what you get here. I appreciate that in a mystery. It's like being spoken to frankly.

The first real achievement here is the creation of a demimonde of faeries and other supernatural beings that feels inhabited. It's a first book, and the fast pace and simple prose don't lend themselves to lots of explaining, but the bones of the world are solid. It's not that the world isn't there, it's that I'm not being told as much as I want to know about it. This is a good foundation, a good way to approach worldbuilding in a series, and I look forward to seeing this world develop as the series advances.

The second achievement worthy of note is the creation of a heroine worthy of the name. October -- Toby -- is smart, tough as all hell, and practical to a fault. She has an earthy, grounded attitude, takes shit from no-one, and is a no-bullshit chick. She's not a ball-busting bitch, but she doesn't have much patience for verbal fencing. But as much as we like characters for their awesome traits, we love them for their flaws. A good character is human, and Toby is extremely human. She's not perfect. None of her flaws are flaws traditionally associated with female characters, thank goodness. In fact, I have to put Toby up there with the best female leads in this kind of fiction, and I am really glad that Seanan has created a character that absolutely has the chops to hold reader interest through a series. There is nothing whatsoever Mary-Sue-ish about Toby. Her flaws are not strengths in disguise.

The characterization in general is good but brief. The cast is large, and the tradeoff there is less time spent with any one person, but Seanan makes every character vivid and memorable. Not all of them are likeable -- something else I really appreciate. She also doesn't give in to the impulse to make all of her characters super powerful. The denizens of Faerie are very carefully portrayed as more powerful than ordinary humans, but still every bit as flawed and fallible. Not every person you meet is the Most Awesome Person Of Their Kind. They're ordinary folks.

The plot leaves threads untied and plenty of questions unresolved, yet ties up enough that we don't feel left adrift. The mark of a good first book in a series is if it is satisfying yet leaves the reader wondering "How is she going to . . . ?" We have that here.

My only complaint is that there were aspects of the ending I felt accelerated too quickly, leading some actions to feel . . . not out of character, but sudden. I can't say more than that without committing spoiler, but I can say that I am ultra-sensitive to endings and no, it wasn't a deal-breaker for me. It was a problem with physical action, what was going on on-screen, and not a flaw with the story arc or the emotional arc or the character arcs, all of which were set down quite well.

I am splitting hairs, there, but the difference between rushing the ending a bit and fouling up the whole resolution is an important hair to split. It's the difference between someone I can trust to tell a satisfying story and someone who is going to mis-handle my emotional investment.

I trust Seanan to tell me a good story next time, and I plan to let her do it. I honestly cannot think of more worthy praise than that.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Wulfenbach)
I post not only to inflict my nifty new House Wulfenbach icon on you lot, but to close out a bunch of tabs! Lucky youall.

First, because if I put it last, you will never sleep again: the creepiest tower ever. Some of the comments are really entertaining.

Steampunk Wallpaper is a daily . . . uhh . . . Steampunk wallpaper site that's just getting going, but it's already got some fabulous stuff up for grabs. These are currently dueling it out for control of my desktop:





Graphic artists, consider contributing! I would love to see this site do well. The maintainer's blog is Geekery Abounds. Mouse is a woman of many talents and in addition to wallpapers and geekery, offers such gems as an Instructable on how to make dung beetle truffles.



Eat them up, yum!

And here. Something to read while you eat.

Jesse Hajicek's The God Eaters is available for free in its entirety online, though I recommend you buy a copy if you like it. The fact that it's an amateur novel (with a prologue, even) shouldn't put you off.

I was drawn in very quickly, and I often find myself hoping that Hajicek writes something else set in that world. Hajicek's late 1800s Wild West analog fantasy world is grim and believable, the "magic" angle is handled interestingly and well, and the characterization is superb. A good chunk of it is set in a prison, which doesn't exactly make it the most cuddly and pleasant book in the world, but it's done well and Hajicek keeps things interesting throughout the incarceration by still providing the characters with things to do and problems to solve. Adept.

About the only complaint I have is that I thought that some of the names were Elaborate Fantasy Novel Pronounish, which jarred with the Wild West vibe. As you can see, that's a really minor quibble.

Imprisioned for 'inflammatory writings' by the totalitarian Theocracy, shy intellectual Ashleigh Trine figures his story's over. But when he meets Kieran Trevarde, a hard-hearted gunslinger with a dark magic lurking in his blood, Ash finds that necessity makes strange heroes... and love can change the world.


The above summary at Lulu.com is okay (all right, "love can change the world" is a little much, but it is partly a romance), but I really enjoyed Hajicek's warning:

This novel, like just about everything else I do, is full of sex, violence, and foul language. If you don't want to see sex, violence, and foul language, don't read it. Traditionally, I should also include an additional warning about the fact that it contains GAY HOMOS OMG!!! But you know what? If you can't handle gay characters, I don't actually care whether you get your prejudices stepped on.


Right on.

So, there you have it. Don't read it if you aren't interested in gay romance. Your loss, really, since it's a really good romance . . . for once, a "bad boy" character who isn't just a good guy with some moral scrapes and dings and a scenically rugged past. Kieran is genuinely dangerous and, yeah, scary. Probably crazy, too, though it could be argued that his problem is that he is too sane. And Ash is a complete dork -- utterly disarming and, at the beginning, very vulnerable. It's very hard to pull that off without making the character insufferable or annoying. Ash changes a lot during the narrative, which is gratifying to watch.

Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] phyrbyrd, for linking me to it.

Moving on, TV Tropes is a website devoted to cataloging the many conventions and devices used by writers in constructing an engaging narrative. It started with TV, but also includes other media as well. It states on the front page that not all tropes are a bad thing, and they are not, but the individual sections are so filled with snark and bad examples that the whole site more or less serves as an example of how not to do it. Wonderful, amusing reading, and potentially useful. Helpful in categorizing exactly which tropes annoy you, and why.

And, finally, [livejournal.com profile] cadhla does it again with Wolf-children Howling Honey.

All the wolf-children are howling honey
That falls down like light from the moon;
All the coyote girls think that it's funny,
And hope you'll come dance with them soon.
All the fox-maidens with bows in their hair
Would like to invite you to play,
And no one will question, and no one will care,
If you should decide that you'll stay.

All the wolf-children are sinners and saviors
And poets and sweet sacred fools;
All the coyote girls base their behaviors
On what breaks the most beautiful rules.
All the fox-maidens with stories to share
Would like to invite you to hear,
And no one will question, and no one will care,
If you should remain for a year.


I link this specifically for [livejournal.com profile] apocalypticbob who, I believe, has the pendant that prompted this song.

And with that, I leave you so much the richer, and am going to take some melatonin and try to get some sleep.

I am not going to think about that fucking tower.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Wulfenbach)
I post not only to inflict my nifty new House Wulfenbach icon on you lot, but to close out a bunch of tabs! Lucky youall.

First, because if I put it last, you will never sleep again: the creepiest tower ever. Some of the comments are really entertaining.

Steampunk Wallpaper is a daily . . . uhh . . . Steampunk wallpaper site that's just getting going, but it's already got some fabulous stuff up for grabs. These are currently dueling it out for control of my desktop:





Graphic artists, consider contributing! I would love to see this site do well. The maintainer's blog is Geekery Abounds. Mouse is a woman of many talents and in addition to wallpapers and geekery, offers such gems as an Instructable on how to make dung beetle truffles.



Eat them up, yum!

And here. Something to read while you eat.

Jesse Hajicek's The God Eaters is available for free in its entirety online, though I recommend you buy a copy if you like it. The fact that it's an amateur novel (with a prologue, even) shouldn't put you off.

I was drawn in very quickly, and I often find myself hoping that Hajicek writes something else set in that world. Hajicek's late 1800s Wild West analog fantasy world is grim and believable, the "magic" angle is handled interestingly and well, and the characterization is superb. A good chunk of it is set in a prison, which doesn't exactly make it the most cuddly and pleasant book in the world, but it's done well and Hajicek keeps things interesting throughout the incarceration by still providing the characters with things to do and problems to solve. Adept.

About the only complaint I have is that I thought that some of the names were Elaborate Fantasy Novel Pronounish, which jarred with the Wild West vibe. As you can see, that's a really minor quibble.

Imprisioned for 'inflammatory writings' by the totalitarian Theocracy, shy intellectual Ashleigh Trine figures his story's over. But when he meets Kieran Trevarde, a hard-hearted gunslinger with a dark magic lurking in his blood, Ash finds that necessity makes strange heroes... and love can change the world.


The above summary at Lulu.com is okay (all right, "love can change the world" is a little much, but it is partly a romance), but I really enjoyed Hajicek's warning:

This novel, like just about everything else I do, is full of sex, violence, and foul language. If you don't want to see sex, violence, and foul language, don't read it. Traditionally, I should also include an additional warning about the fact that it contains GAY HOMOS OMG!!! But you know what? If you can't handle gay characters, I don't actually care whether you get your prejudices stepped on.


Right on.

So, there you have it. Don't read it if you aren't interested in gay romance. Your loss, really, since it's a really good romance . . . for once, a "bad boy" character who isn't just a good guy with some moral scrapes and dings and a scenically rugged past. Kieran is genuinely dangerous and, yeah, scary. Probably crazy, too, though it could be argued that his problem is that he is too sane. And Ash is a complete dork -- utterly disarming and, at the beginning, very vulnerable. It's very hard to pull that off without making the character insufferable or annoying. Ash changes a lot during the narrative, which is gratifying to watch.

Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] phyrbyrd, for linking me to it.

Moving on, TV Tropes is a website devoted to cataloging the many conventions and devices used by writers in constructing an engaging narrative. It started with TV, but also includes other media as well. It states on the front page that not all tropes are a bad thing, and they are not, but the individual sections are so filled with snark and bad examples that the whole site more or less serves as an example of how not to do it. Wonderful, amusing reading, and potentially useful. Helpful in categorizing exactly which tropes annoy you, and why.

And, finally, [livejournal.com profile] cadhla does it again with Wolf-children Howling Honey.

All the wolf-children are howling honey
That falls down like light from the moon;
All the coyote girls think that it's funny,
And hope you'll come dance with them soon.
All the fox-maidens with bows in their hair
Would like to invite you to play,
And no one will question, and no one will care,
If you should decide that you'll stay.

All the wolf-children are sinners and saviors
And poets and sweet sacred fools;
All the coyote girls base their behaviors
On what breaks the most beautiful rules.
All the fox-maidens with stories to share
Would like to invite you to hear,
And no one will question, and no one will care,
If you should remain for a year.


I link this specifically for [livejournal.com profile] apocalypticbob who, I believe, has the pendant that prompted this song.

And with that, I leave you so much the richer, and am going to take some melatonin and try to get some sleep.

I am not going to think about that fucking tower.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
61) Brothers of the Night, edited by Michael Rowe and Thomas S. Roche, 165 pages

The sequel to Sons of Darkness, this book contains eleven more male-on-male vampire stories.

The quality of this anthology was, overall, just as good as the one that came before, with exceptional entries by Simon Sheppard, David Quinn, Edo van Belkom, and Michael Rowe. The real prize is Kevin Andrew Murphy's "The Nightwatch Is A Lonely Vigil." In this moving tale of a crusader's knighthood vigil, the homoerotic angle is only lightly touched upon. This could have passed in mainstream fiction. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful story, and was worth the price of the collection to me. (Nechtan, I thought of you when I read this one. I think you'd really, really like it.)

It's great to read such a variety of takes on such an old theme, and it's very interesting to see what changes AIDS and the death of '70's gay culture have wrought upon the vampire myth. Ultimately, what makes the vampire such a powerful metaphor is the fact that, invisible in mirrors or not, he is a reflection of us, of our wants and desires and our deepest fears.

Recommended for fans of vampire fiction. If it sounds like your thing, it probably is.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
61) Brothers of the Night, edited by Michael Rowe and Thomas S. Roche, 165 pages

The sequel to Sons of Darkness, this book contains eleven more male-on-male vampire stories.

The quality of this anthology was, overall, just as good as the one that came before, with exceptional entries by Simon Sheppard, David Quinn, Edo van Belkom, and Michael Rowe. The real prize is Kevin Andrew Murphy's "The Nightwatch Is A Lonely Vigil." In this moving tale of a crusader's knighthood vigil, the homoerotic angle is only lightly touched upon. This could have passed in mainstream fiction. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful story, and was worth the price of the collection to me. (Nechtan, I thought of you when I read this one. I think you'd really, really like it.)

It's great to read such a variety of takes on such an old theme, and it's very interesting to see what changes AIDS and the death of '70's gay culture have wrought upon the vampire myth. Ultimately, what makes the vampire such a powerful metaphor is the fact that, invisible in mirrors or not, he is a reflection of us, of our wants and desires and our deepest fears.

Recommended for fans of vampire fiction. If it sounds like your thing, it probably is.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
60) Sons of Darkness, edited by Michael Rowe and Thomas S. Roche, 174 pages

A Cleis Books anthology of twelve homoerotic vampire stories. Not terrible, but not mind-shatteringly cool, either. The best story in the group is a reprint of Poppy Brite's "His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood," which is a tight little kicker of a story, and one I didn't mind rereading for the second time in about a year.

The rest were competent, with offerings from such writers as C. Dean Andersson, Pat Califia, M. Christian, and Carol Queen, all of whom offer stories that are a cut above.

Recommended for fans of the genre.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
60) Sons of Darkness, edited by Michael Rowe and Thomas S. Roche, 174 pages

A Cleis Books anthology of twelve homoerotic vampire stories. Not terrible, but not mind-shatteringly cool, either. The best story in the group is a reprint of Poppy Brite's "His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood," which is a tight little kicker of a story, and one I didn't mind rereading for the second time in about a year.

The rest were competent, with offerings from such writers as C. Dean Andersson, Pat Califia, M. Christian, and Carol Queen, all of whom offer stories that are a cut above.

Recommended for fans of the genre.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
I promise to start a different book journal someday.

59) Hottest Blood, edited by Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, 249 pages

Third in a series of erotic horror anthologies, Hottest Blood leans much further toward horror than erotica. There was a lot of sexual content here, but very little that I would term actually arousing. This isn't a condemnation, just a clarification. Sex is used here as just another way of terrifying, of getting under the reader's skin.

I don't read a tremendous amount of horror, so I will withhold tight judgement on that aspect of this book since I do not feel competent to critique it. A lot of the writing was solid, but much of it didn't grab me, possibly because gory horror really isn't my thing no matter how much respect I have for the genre and those who write it. So. Not a bad book, and probably good for those who like their erotic horror a little less sexy and a little more splatter.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
I promise to start a different book journal someday.

59) Hottest Blood, edited by Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett, 249 pages

Third in a series of erotic horror anthologies, Hottest Blood leans much further toward horror than erotica. There was a lot of sexual content here, but very little that I would term actually arousing. This isn't a condemnation, just a clarification. Sex is used here as just another way of terrifying, of getting under the reader's skin.

I don't read a tremendous amount of horror, so I will withhold tight judgement on that aspect of this book since I do not feel competent to critique it. A lot of the writing was solid, but much of it didn't grab me, possibly because gory horror really isn't my thing no matter how much respect I have for the genre and those who write it. So. Not a bad book, and probably good for those who like their erotic horror a little less sexy and a little more splatter.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
Yes, I went on an erotica kick. Why do you ask?

58) Herotica, edited by Susie Bright, 153 pages

This groundbreaking 1988 anthology of erotica written by women still stands up to inspection nearly twenty years later. Instead of being a mix of standout stories and duds, this one is of a more uniform quality. There is nothing really shocking or controversial here, this is not a confrontational book. For the time, however, it represented a great step forward, and, gratifyingly, these stories, by and large, hold up.

Even more remarkable is the fact that these stories were almost all written before what could be called the age of professional women's erotica writers. These were amateurs, giving it their all. And what they have to say is truly fascinating. Some are tender, some steamy, some poignant; all represent a female perspective. A perspective that, until this book was published, was sorely lacking.

Interesting both for its literary significance as well as its actual content. Definitely worth checking out, especially for those interested in charting the movement from its beginning. It is (ready for the bad pun?) a seminal work.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
Yes, I went on an erotica kick. Why do you ask?

58) Herotica, edited by Susie Bright, 153 pages

This groundbreaking 1988 anthology of erotica written by women still stands up to inspection nearly twenty years later. Instead of being a mix of standout stories and duds, this one is of a more uniform quality. There is nothing really shocking or controversial here, this is not a confrontational book. For the time, however, it represented a great step forward, and, gratifyingly, these stories, by and large, hold up.

Even more remarkable is the fact that these stories were almost all written before what could be called the age of professional women's erotica writers. These were amateurs, giving it their all. And what they have to say is truly fascinating. Some are tender, some steamy, some poignant; all represent a female perspective. A perspective that, until this book was published, was sorely lacking.

Interesting both for its literary significance as well as its actual content. Definitely worth checking out, especially for those interested in charting the movement from its beginning. It is (ready for the bad pun?) a seminal work.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
Shooting for 100 books, and trying to catch up on my reviews.

57) The Best America Erotica 2000, edited by Susie Bright, 295 pages

I recommend picking this one up, if you run across it.

One of the things I like best about good erotica is its ability to take a subject I don't find sexy in the slightest – cigars, say – and turn them into something incredibly arousing, as in "Sophie's Smoke," by Mark Stuertz.

Eva Morris' "Ideal Assex" is a story that I wish to God I had written but never could have – sharp, smart, and fucking nuclear hot. Seriously. This one's a keeper.

In "Two Cars in a Cornfield," William Harrison evokes the eternal yesterday of teenage lust in what was, for me, the most poignant and affecting story the volume had to offer.

"Fish Curry Rice" by Gina Kamani could have been stifling and overly political, with its story of the culture clash between a young Indian woman returning to the home country after being years in America and her traditional matchmaking aunt who is perpetually trying to set her up with eligible Indian men. It wasn't overwrought or depressing – it was lighthearted, humorous, and delightful, and at the same time tapped into an important truth about female nature.

Even such stories as Bob Vickery's "Calcutta," in which an affluent man offers his bed and his body to a homeless vet with no legs, or Ernie Conrick's "The Queen of Exit 17," where a married man has a series of sleazy encounters at a rather depressing roadside stop (Shyamalan fans keep your eyes open for the subtle kick at the end – What A Twist!) manage to transcend the confrontational nature of their subject matter. In this, the 2000 volume is superior to the 1993 version, where the unpleasantness was not offset enough by the stories themselves.

There are a couple of so-so offerings here, but they are far, far in the minority, and one man's goose is another's gander (or however the saying goes), so I won't complain over a matter of taste. All in all, a most worthy offering.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
Shooting for 100 books, and trying to catch up on my reviews.

57) The Best America Erotica 2000, edited by Susie Bright, 295 pages

I recommend picking this one up, if you run across it.

One of the things I like best about good erotica is its ability to take a subject I don't find sexy in the slightest – cigars, say – and turn them into something incredibly arousing, as in "Sophie's Smoke," by Mark Stuertz.

Eva Morris' "Ideal Assex" is a story that I wish to God I had written but never could have – sharp, smart, and fucking nuclear hot. Seriously. This one's a keeper.

In "Two Cars in a Cornfield," William Harrison evokes the eternal yesterday of teenage lust in what was, for me, the most poignant and affecting story the volume had to offer.

"Fish Curry Rice" by Gina Kamani could have been stifling and overly political, with its story of the culture clash between a young Indian woman returning to the home country after being years in America and her traditional matchmaking aunt who is perpetually trying to set her up with eligible Indian men. It wasn't overwrought or depressing – it was lighthearted, humorous, and delightful, and at the same time tapped into an important truth about female nature.

Even such stories as Bob Vickery's "Calcutta," in which an affluent man offers his bed and his body to a homeless vet with no legs, or Ernie Conrick's "The Queen of Exit 17," where a married man has a series of sleazy encounters at a rather depressing roadside stop (Shyamalan fans keep your eyes open for the subtle kick at the end – What A Twist!) manage to transcend the confrontational nature of their subject matter. In this, the 2000 volume is superior to the 1993 version, where the unpleasantness was not offset enough by the stories themselves.

There are a couple of so-so offerings here, but they are far, far in the minority, and one man's goose is another's gander (or however the saying goes), so I won't complain over a matter of taste. All in all, a most worthy offering.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
57) The Best America Erotica 2000, edited by Susie Bright, 295 pages

I found this collection more palatable than the 1993 compilation. In fact, I'll go so far as to recommend picking this one up.

One of the things I like best about good erotica is its ability to take a subject I don't find sexy in the slightest – cigars, say – and turn them into something incredibly arousing, as in "Sophie's Smoke," by Mark Stuertz.

Eva Morris' "Ideal Assex" is a story that I wish to God I had written but never could have – sharp, smart, and fucking nuclear hot. Seriously. This one's a keeper. Guh!

In "Two Cars in a Cornfield," William Harrison evokes the eternal yesterday of teenage lust in what was, for me, the most poignant and affecting story the volume had to offer.

"Fish Curry Rice" by Gina Kamani could have been stifling and overly political, with its story of the culture clash between a young Indian woman returning to the home country after being years in America and her traditional matchmaking Aunt who is perpetually trying to set her up with eligible Indian men. It wasn't overwrought or depressing – it was lighthearted, humorous, and delightful, and at the same time tapped into an important truth about female nature.

Even such stories as Bob Vickery's "Calcutta," in which an affluent man offers his bed and his body to a homeless vet with no legs, or Ernie Conrick's "The Queen of Exit 17," where a married man has a series of sleazy encounters at a rather depressing roadside stop (Shyamalan fans keep your eyes open for the subtle kick at the end – What A Twist!) manage to transcend the confrontational nature of their subject matter. In this, the 2000 volume is superior to the 1993 version, where the unpleasantness was not offset enough by the stories themselves.

There are a couple of so-so offerings here, but they are far, far in the minority, and one man's goose is another's gander (or however the saying goes), so I won't complain too much. The ones that are good are very, very good. All in all, a worthy offering.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate Literacy)
57) The Best America Erotica 2000, edited by Susie Bright, 295 pages

I found this collection more palatable than the 1993 compilation. In fact, I'll go so far as to recommend picking this one up.

One of the things I like best about good erotica is its ability to take a subject I don't find sexy in the slightest – cigars, say – and turn them into something incredibly arousing, as in "Sophie's Smoke," by Mark Stuertz.

Eva Morris' "Ideal Assex" is a story that I wish to God I had written but never could have – sharp, smart, and fucking nuclear hot. Seriously. This one's a keeper. Guh!

In "Two Cars in a Cornfield," William Harrison evokes the eternal yesterday of teenage lust in what was, for me, the most poignant and affecting story the volume had to offer.

"Fish Curry Rice" by Gina Kamani could have been stifling and overly political, with its story of the culture clash between a young Indian woman returning to the home country after being years in America and her traditional matchmaking Aunt who is perpetually trying to set her up with eligible Indian men. It wasn't overwrought or depressing – it was lighthearted, humorous, and delightful, and at the same time tapped into an important truth about female nature.

Even such stories as Bob Vickery's "Calcutta," in which an affluent man offers his bed and his body to a homeless vet with no legs, or Ernie Conrick's "The Queen of Exit 17," where a married man has a series of sleazy encounters at a rather depressing roadside stop (Shyamalan fans keep your eyes open for the subtle kick at the end – What A Twist!) manage to transcend the confrontational nature of their subject matter. In this, the 2000 volume is superior to the 1993 version, where the unpleasantness was not offset enough by the stories themselves.

There are a couple of so-so offerings here, but they are far, far in the minority, and one man's goose is another's gander (or however the saying goes), so I won't complain too much. The ones that are good are very, very good. All in all, a worthy offering.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
55) A Taste of Midnight: Vampire Erotica, edited by Cecilia Tan, 174 pages

Pretty much what you'd expect from the title. A Circlet Press anthology of sexy vampire stories. As usual, there are a couple of gems, most notably "The Only" by Steve Eller and "Descend" by Pagan O'Leary. A lot of it didn't grab me, not because it was bad, but because it just wasn't my thing. I like vampires as much as the next girl, but it's easy to lose me when you start getting into the whole bat-winged creature of the night thing.

Enough emphasis is put on gender-bending that probably more than two-thirds of the stories feature same-sex interactions, so readers who are bent on reading only hetero sex should be warned of that. It's not tremendously pushy or difficult stuff, which, depending on your stance, is either a strike for or a strike against.

A decent and enjoyable anthology for the enthusiast, but not extraordinary.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
55) A Taste of Midnight: Vampire Erotica, edited by Cecilia Tan, 174 pages

Pretty much what you'd expect from the title. A Circlet Press anthology of sexy vampire stories. As usual, there are a couple of gems, most notably "The Only" by Steve Eller and "Descend" by Pagan O'Leary. A lot of it didn't grab me, not because it was bad, but because it just wasn't my thing. I like vampires as much as the next girl, but it's easy to lose me when you start getting into the whole bat-winged creature of the night thing.

Enough emphasis is put on gender-bending that probably more than two-thirds of the stories feature same-sex interactions, so readers who are bent on reading only hetero sex should be warned of that. It's not tremendously pushy or difficult stuff, which, depending on your stance, is either a strike for or a strike against.

A decent and enjoyable anthology for the enthusiast, but not extraordinary.

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