I enjoyed reading all 17 short stories, essays and/or articles in Best Gay Stories 2015 ed. by Steve Berman.
It has been said that life is "nothing morI enjoyed reading all 17 short stories, essays and/or articles in Best Gay Stories 2015 ed. by Steve Berman.
It has been said that life is "nothing more than an accumulation of moments or events," some pivotal in a lifetime while others just occur with no real beginning or end. I am always searching for short pieces capturing those unique or pivotal moments in a character's (or a real person's) life, and for authors with the talent to write in the spare, well-constructed, elegant prose necessary to create gems out of those pivotal or flash-in-the-pan moments. Personally, I prefer stories that wring a response from me: thought-provoking, positive, negative, emotional. I found much of or all of what I search for between the pages of this anthology. Here are a few examples:
"Outing" by Allan Radcliffe is hard to forget as it tenderly focuses on a special moment in the life of an established, older gay couple whose first kiss in public is inspired by two young men kissing at a train station. Touching and beautiful. In "Lovely Company" by Ron Schafrick a too cautious man makes the wrong decisions for his father and himself. This sad, realistic piece made me think about the importance of taking risks, living, and enjoying the moment. Life.
"What Did I Know?" by Joseph R.G. DeMarco is a profoundly thoughtful and intimate piece. A childhood trauma causes Joseph to suffer from fear of death, abandonment, and being forgotten. He believes that romantic love is the answer to his personal terrors. However, it is after losing his long-time partner, while going through the grieving process, that Joseph comes to understand the true meaning of love and finally sheds his fears. The intimacy of this piece engenders a connection with the reader. Personally, I re-read the last page countless times.
"Stories I Tell My Friends" by Richard Bowes is a compulsive read, not only because of the content, but because of the style in which it is written. Set in Boston, this is a string of stories, within a story, narrated by the author. They are recollections of events that took place during the narrator's childhood and young adulthood while his family moved from place to place. The narrator's father, cops, firemen and actors feature prominently. Events are intertwined as one story runs into the next until Bowes makes a final point. This is an excellent example of unique short story construction I mention above.
"The Case for PrEP How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love HIV-Positive Guys" by Evan J. Peterson is an article in which the author makes his case for the drug Truvada. The essay lists points made against the drug, however in general it has a positive slant for its usage and interviews, numbers, percentages etc are utilized throughout the article for this purpose. Peterson documents his own choice to use Truvada and the stigma that follows those who make the decision to do so. He gives examples such as public judgments made against it (Truvada has been called the "whore pill"), as well as the fear-driven negative responses to a drug that allows gay men to have unprotected sex without fearing HIV infection. Informative and thought-provoking.
"Needle" by Peter Dubé is a story about a sex-driven, highly volatile relationship based on addiction and mutual violence. This intensely disturbing piece is deeply memorable, more so because Dubé keeps the reader on edge to the very end by utilizing two different settings, a skewed first point of view narrative and a silence presence that makes a strong impact. Excellent read. "Skin" by Joe Okonkwo actually wrung a wow from me at the end of this piece. Oh the hypocrisy!! Okonkwo focuses on ageism and the gay community's iconisation of the perfect body. He touches all the important points, i.e., the invisibility factor and the effect it has on men after they reach a certain age, as well as the love of the "body beautiful" and how it affects gay men who do not fall under that category. Skin is a great read throughout, but the ending makes it unforgettable.
"My Adventure with Tom Sawyer" by Jameson Currier is one of three re-reads for me, the other two are "The Balaclava by Nathan Sims" and "Shep: A Dog by Alex Jeffers," two stories I thoroughly enjoyed. My Adventure with Tom Sawyer, however, has to be the most delightful story in this anthology. Currier is an author whose deft hand at writing a self-deprecating, humorous piece is so well represented with this piece that for the second time around I sat back, relaxed, and settled in for the long-haul forgetting that this is a short story, yet it ends exactly where it should. Excellent execution. Memorable quote: "I was aware that I was having one of those awful motion picture moments when the old- maid spinster realizes her tour guide is someone generations younger than she is. Or worse, finding myself in a country-music version of Death in Venice."
"Smuggler" by Philip Kennicott. "I remember my first kiss with absolute clarity. I was reading on a black chaise lounge, upholstered with shiny velour, and it was right after dinner, the hour of freedom before I was obliged to begin my homework. I was sixteen. It must have been early autumn or late spring, because I know I was in school at the time, and the sun was still out. I was shocked and thrilled by it, and reading that passage from a novel by Hermann Hesse, made the book feel intensely real, fusing Hesse's imaginary world with the physical object I was holding in my hands." Kennicott is referring to"Beneath the Wheel" as he begins this fantastic essay focusing on 19th Century and early 20th Century literature featuring homoerotic scenes or homosexual characters, and the positive / negative effects reading these books had on the author or may have had on other gay readers. He ends with what, if any, the future holds for these classics, particularly after all the recent changes that have taken place in the gay community. I am oversimplifying here friends, but believe me, this is a fascinating, well-thought out, clearly defined, elegant piece begging to be read.
The above samples highlight some of this anthology's diverse content, however, the gay theme is prevalent throughout and there's something for everyone. If you enjoy short fiction and non-fiction the way I do, Best Gay Stories 2015 is an anthology I recommend in its entirety....more
"Dear Me, It is not easy to write this review. It took me longer than expected. The letters I read in this collection were deeply moving, and as conse"Dear Me, It is not easy to write this review. It took me longer than expected. The letters I read in this collection were deeply moving, and as consequence left me thinking too much about a 16 year old dreamer and the lifetimes lived since. Could I ever be brave enough to share myself, my truths, as intimately and bravely as these writers? I don't believe so. But they did. And, now, I can't stop thinking about their honesty, struggles, happiness, and sorrows." Hilcia
Glitterwolf: A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self edited by Matt Cresswell is a collection featuring 33 LGBT authors sending a letter to their sixteen year old selves. The core theme is Identity. The identity theme is strongly carried throughout the collection by contributing authors identifying as gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, genderqueer, and one from a married gay man who remains in the closet to this day. The letters’ contents are as diverse as the writers’ identities and experiences.
"I know you're not like the other girls in your class, you never have been, you never will be. That's okay though, it really is, you can live in that in-between world quite happily where you're female but you're not a girl. Not girlie. You don't need to be.
It doesn't matter. None of it. None of the little boxes you're so desperately trying to fit yourself into matter. Not now, not later." Rhian Williams
The collection is 78 pages and the majority of the letters are one to two pages long. Length, however, does not preclude this collection from making a high impact on the reader. All the letters are personal and deeply moving.
"Days that feel dark, days that seem neverendingly hopeless, do end. The sun does rise, whether or not you want it to (and there are days you want both). Accept joy. Accept love. Accept the messiness of existing. Embrace it all. You will never have the chance to do so again once it's gone. Breathe." Victoria Villasenor
The letters range from the optimistic and brilliantly defiant to sad and downright dark in content. There is no getting away from a shared sense of loneliness, isolation, subtle anger, and caring tenderness. There is also hope, whether the focus of that hope is centered on finding love or a successful career shifts with each individual.
I also found it fascinating that there is a secondary, underlying generational theme to this collection since the contributors' ages range from the early 20's to the 60's. The letters are written from the present to the writers’ past selves, and so age, hindsight, and experience must be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, place and society's fluctuating viewpoints are also a factor.
"It is so easy to be queer, where and when you are, or is it me? I don't even remember realizing I was different to my friends or deciding to keep it a secret. It was no problem." Nick Campbell
Campbell's experience seems to be in the minority. The majority of the letters show inner and outer struggles. Older generations and those growing up in small towns seem to have had a tougher time as teenagers struggling with identity issues. Gay poet C.S. Crown's letter is representative of his generation's experiences, however, it stands out for different reasons. Crown is 65 years old, married, and in the closet. This fascinating letter clearly, and without hesitation, outlines a lifetime of decisions.
"[…] the shadows from your closet will call out to you over and over again, and you will dream of the man-you-might-have-been. Look carefully at the shadows; I am one of them. Will you recognize me?" C. S. Crown
Ultimately, the strength of this excellent collection lies in the intimacy with which the contributing writers, as individuals, share pivotal moments while in their journey to embracing identity -- going from the uncertain questioning of the 16 year old, to the knowing, accepting, “Me.” Highly recommended.
"When you are my age, even earlier, you'll find that your name would stand for something that you no longer identify with, your identity as a boy. You are probably saying right now "What are you talking about?" Hello, I was you. I know about how much you felt since you were 5 that you should've been born a girl." Paulina Angel
Jonathan Harper's writing skills deserve a 5 star rating in his debut short story collection Daydreamers: Stories. This is a gritty compilation of shoJonathan Harper's writing skills deserve a 5 star rating in his debut short story collection Daydreamers: Stories. This is a gritty compilation of short stories with no easy resolutions (or no resolutions at all) for young men, troubled daydreamers, who for the most part come from a middle class background. Read it, yearn, search for inspiration, and dream with his characters....more
What can you expect? Bears, Bears, & more Bears . . . Muscle-bound beauties, sexy Daddies, adorable cubs and strong bears experiencing life, advenWhat can you expect? Bears, Bears, & more Bears . . . Muscle-bound beauties, sexy Daddies, adorable cubs and strong bears experiencing life, adventures, and enjoying each other in stories featuring rough play, erotic moments, the consumption of orgasmic feasts, everyday life issues or those all-important connections. Bears hibernating in past, present, and future winter settings ranging from the North Pole to Antarctica, isolated cabins in mountain ranges to ski resorts, and on to far away planets.
This collection flows beautifully with variety instead of sameness. It kicks off strongly beginning with the erotically enticing contemporary foodie piece "Don't Feed the Bear" by R.W. Clinger, Jeff Mann's vampire tale of domination and submission, control and surrender courtesy of a forceful but loving hunkalicious biker in "Snow on Scrabble Creek," and 'Nathan Burgoine's exquisitely executed speculative fiction piece "Psychometry of Snow."
Frank Muse's amusing "Little Suzie" with an erotic Santa – think snicker doodles and black leather jockstrap -- as the ultimate winter Daddy bear fantasy is followed by “Snowblind,” Jeffrey Ricker's creative science fiction tale set in a distant frozen planet, and Max Vos’ extremely heated “Mountain Bear,” a story set in the cold mountains of Tennessee featuring gay bashing southern style, as well as raw lovin' between a writer and a reclusive bear. Serving as a heavy contrast, Jay Neal's reflective poet/writer sets off in an adventure to research early Antarctica explorers and finds hot romance with a devious bear in "Miles, of the Antarctic."
Up next is Xavier Axelson's fabulous speculative fiction/horror tale detailing a bear's quest for justice in the chilling "Sleeping Bear," followed by the emotional roller coaster "Feast of January” by Roscoe Hudson with a wickedly funny beginning and romantic cookfest that quickly turns into a reflective piece about a past loss and grabbing that second chance at life. And Daniel M. Jaffe serves a different sort of romantic holiday treat as his Jewish sex angel finally finds the love of his life at Christmas time in "Romancing the Pole."
The reader is then transported to 1878 and big, hairy lumberjacks and ice harvesters toiling, bunking together, and tenderly caring for each other in "Truckee," one of Dale Chase’s deliciously raw, bearishly hot and gritty stories. It is a smooth transition to contemporary times and a fabulous bear erotic fiction piece by Lewis DeSimone who with his finely tuned insight into men needing hope or a way to move forward utilizes friendship and a new acquaintance to pave the way for that to happen in "The Bears of Winter." This grouping ends with the futuristic "Thaw" by Hank Edwards, a short story memorable for its excellent world-building, fantastic atmosphere, and a dystopian frozen earth that serves as the perfect setting for a dangerous cute-meet between two surviving bears.
In Phillip Williams' rough and tender erotic tale "World of Men," a young, isolated cub desperately wants to experience the world of men and gets his wishes (and then some) when a bear gives him a few lessons in desire. Everything shifts when a man faces reality when friends help him come to terms with his beloved partner's long illness in Charles Hopwood's truly touching "Cold Comfort." And, the anthology ends with a contemporary piece that relies on the character's fantasies and fixation on a bear for most of its eroticism. "The Balaclava" by Nathan Sims is a story that surprises the reader by ending just as it should for the character.
I usually read anthologies in slow motion -- one, maybe two stories at a time -- but with The Bears of Winter it was different. I read one story after another without stopping for a breath in between. It is true that I am a sucker for stories about bears and that in my estimation Jerry L. Wheeler is a fabulous editor, but in this case the proof is in the pudding. All 16 stories meet the required theme, hibernating bears in all sorts of winter landscapes, however, it is quality writing by the contributing authors and the variety and caliber of the stories chosen by Wheeler that keep this anthology fresh and engaging, driving the reader forward until the very end. Highly recommended. Enjoy.
The Wilde Stories anthology series edited by Steve Berman features gay themed speculativGrade: 4.5/5.0 Originally reviewed at Impressions of a Reader
The Wilde Stories anthology series edited by Steve Berman features gay themed speculative fiction short stories published during the previous year. This year all the short works included in Steve Berman's 2014 Wilde Stories: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction are written by new contributors. The collection begins with an introduction by Berman, an interesting one at that, however today I am concentrating on a long review that includes all the stories.
The anthology begins with three very good stories that quickly engage the reader, particularly with the short but highly effective contemporary piece "Grindr" by Clayton Littlewood in which text messaging, infused with edgy horror, is utilized as the spec fic element. In "The Ghosts of Emerhad" by Nghi Vo ghosts play a role in a fantasy setting with eerie atmosphere, yet it is not a chilling read, instead this is the redeeming war tale of a man coming to terms with personal loses. And with "How to Dress an American Table" by J. E. Robinson, the collection shifts to a contemporary tale with an unsettling "human monster" at its center, the kind that is often more disturbing than stories about fictional monsters hiding under the bed.
"Caress" by Eli Easton is just an excellent, complete steampunk sff romance piece filled with outstanding details, world-building and "graphic novel" atmosphere. I visualized a graphic novella while reading this romance between a young man with a clockwork heart whose genius and skills save a soldier from a fate worse than death. Following is another excellent story. "57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides" by Sam J. Miller strongly stands out with a unique format that flows effortlessly, and memorable young adult characters, outstanding speculative fiction elements, gay theme, and a plot focused on friendship, bullying, revenge and betrayal.
The collection continues the young adult theme with "Happy Birthday, Numskull" by Robert Smith, a piece that is so freaking interesting because the spec fic elements come from a sensitive, imaginative child’s perceived horrors as he experiences the adult world surrounding him. Everything changes with "Right There in Kansas City" by Casey Hannan, the only story in the anthology that veers into the realm of the weird with dense speculative fiction elements that hit the reader from its inception. There is an obvious sub-text to the story, but take it from me this one is very good and out there.
"The Water that Falls from Nowhere" by John Chu won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. A reread, this story stands out for the subtle approach with which Chu uses rain as the speculative fiction element while the main thrust of the story is focused on a committed gay couple attempting to gain understanding and acceptance from the narrator’s traditional Chinese family. I have enjoyed Damon Shaw’s work in the past, and he did it again with "Seven Lovers and the Sea." This is a story I loved for its unique twist on both vampiric and seafaring mythical tales.
Although "The Brokenness of Summertime" by R. W. Clinger may be considered a contemporary horror tale by some or perhaps contemporary with a rather sharp edge (pun intended) after all it depicts ye ole green-eyed monster at its best, my totally warped sense of humor turned it into a highly amusing, insane, demented sort of read -- so, so enjoyable! It was then surprising that "Lacuna" by Matthew Cheney gutted me with its ending and not necessarily with the speculative fiction details. Let me explain, in this story there is a running narrative by a writer as he creates a speculative fiction piece. So, there are two stories at once, one interrupting the other's flow and ending in the writer's reality with a shocking revelation and the reasons why "words are not magic." I must be particularly susceptible at the moment because after this story I stopped reading the anthology for a bit before picking it up again. That's a good thing, it means that the story made a strong impact.
"Super Bass" by Kai Ashante Wilson is a fantastic tale with magical aspects of ancient African religions utilized as the root for the speculative fiction elements. In his story, Ashante Wilson amplifies those magical aspects within a high religious ceremony in which two lovers participate, with one transforming into the Most High Summer King and the other giving him strength through loving. The islanders traditionally marry in threes -- two men, one woman -- an organic same-gender, gender-mixed society. This aspect of the world-building is not deeply explored. Rather, it is an organic part of its creation and left open to the reader for further thought and speculation.
The last piece with young adults as central characters is a mythology-based story by Cory Skerry, "Midnight at the Feet of the Caryatides," that focuses on a arrogant click of students that choose to abuse the weak and different. I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere and gargoyles, but for me the most memorable aspect of the story is the combination of darkness and tenderness found in the narrative. And the anthology ends with "The Revenge of Oscar Wilde" by Sean Eads, a zombie story with Oscar playing the forceful and introspective knight avenging his lover Bosie's honor to the horrifying, bittersweet end. This is a short story worth reading for its beautiful writing and excellent alternate perspective into Wilde's last days in Paris. . . and on. "If there is a god to them now, he walks this earth and his name is Oscar Wilde."
This anthology ebbs and flows with short works that include contemporary, fantasy, steampunk, magical, and mythology-based speculative fiction – some action-filled, others quieter and more introspective, going from dark to light, and darker yet. Horror-based speculative fiction tales reign supreme with some excellent otherworldly pieces and plenty of stand outs. Personally, I found quite a few favorites as I made my way through this year's edition of Wilde Stories. ...more
This anthology features sixteen authors writing about all different types of relationships between gay men and others, including, but not limited to,This anthology features sixteen authors writing about all different types of relationships between gay men and others, including, but not limited to, lovers, family, friends, and acquaintances.
"Gold Mine" by Michael Graves Gold Mine is an engaging and deeply emotional read written from two points of view. First, we have the boy anxiously waiting for his lover's return from the Iraqi War, and then we have boy's grandmother whose keen observations are shared with the reader. Graves uses both perspectives to explore the boy's relationship with his lover, the grandmother's love and acceptance, as well as the rejection he experiences from family members and the lover's family. This piece is engrossing in style with a political flavor that feels a bit dated, but not so much that it is not pertinent today. Particularly since there are lovers still waiting for their loved ones to come home safely.
"In Pride" by Lewis DeSimone Lewis DeSimone's In Pride focuses on today's issue of gay marriage and all the changes that the new laws bring to individual lives and to the gay community as a whole. It's a beautiful thing and San Francisco is celebrating. But it all comes down to analyzing change and effect in the life of his main character, and as he joins the throngs of those celebrating, the effect it will have on a few of his friends who come from an older generation as opposed to the younger members of the gay community. There are questions: Is this something he wants in his life? Should he settle for the young lover who's already in his life or should he search for the right person? Does he want to? Is there still a chance for him? This is a fantastic piece by DeSimone who hits the right tone while addressing the new choices available to the modern gay man from the perspective of an experienced, mature generation.
"Werewolf" by Michael Carroll Werewolf by Michael Carroll is one of those stories that just about anyone can relate to. It is about childhood friendships, you know, the ones that we let go with almost a sense of relief and later regret, usually when it's too late, because there are unresolved issues and feelings. In this case, Carroll's main character got there in time to say those last loving words to a dying friend and came to terms with rough realities. This is a deeply emotional, reality-based story that touches on the truth of those teen-year friendships that span years and in so many ways shape us.
I only highlighted three short stories as examples. It took me a while to finish this anthology because I read each story between other books. As a final assessment I will say this, the editor chose the right stories and writers for this anthology, and each one of the 16 stories included is definitely worth reading. As a bonus, I found a few new-to-me authors whose works I will be reading. This is B+ read for me. ...more
I enjoyed the stories in this anthology -- after all, it contains a favorite tale of queer villainy, Hal Duncan's "The Origin of the Fiend" --4.5/5.0
I enjoyed the stories in this anthology -- after all, it contains a favorite tale of queer villainy, Hal Duncan's "The Origin of the Fiend" -- but can I just say how much I absolutely loved the introduction by Tom Cardamone? We don't say enough about introductions and how they affect a reader (the "hook" they become), or what they mean to a collection or anthology. So to give you an idea of what this great collection is about, I will quote Cardamone:
"Queer kids identify with the monsters in the movies, empowered outcasts, bogeymen bursting out off the closet; villains are cool. They wear their shadows well and if you're going to be expelled into the darkness, you might as well flaunt it."
"We can't just be heroes and victims -- that would create a fictitious reality, one where we are more vigilant in our denials than in our quest for equality."
So yes, as an editor, Cardamone reached his goal in choosing the writers with just the right tales of "queer villainy" for this collection. I enjoyed them all:
Light and Dark by Damon Shaw The Web by Steve Bereznai The Meek Shall Inherit by Jamie Freeman After Balenciaga by Marshall Moore The Third Estate by Lee Thomas The Ice King by Tom Cardamone Lesser Evil by 'Nathan Burgoine The Plan by Charles "Zan" Christensen The Knights Nefarious by Rod M. Santos Snow and Stone by Stellan Thorne Scorned by Jeffrey Ricker Your Changing Body: A Guidebook for Boy Supervillains -- Introduction by Mr. Positive by Matt Fagan The Origin of the Fiend by Hal Duncan ...more
He's The One is a contemporary romance anthology with short, sweet, sexy stories about finding him, the one. This book is perfect for the beach or a vHe's The One is a contemporary romance anthology with short, sweet, sexy stories about finding him, the one. This book is perfect for the beach or a vacation because you can read one short story, put the book down, go have a good time, and get back to another story later on. Not all the stories and authors worked for me personally, but there's something here for everyone.
I have two personal favorites beginning with No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service by Kate Angell. Angell scores high with me by focusing her sexy romance on one couple from her already established Barefoot Williams world. I found this short story to be truly romantic, high on the sensuality scale, with a wonderful happy ending and an absolutely gorgeous summer atmosphere that really fits this anthology. 4.5/5
My other favorite is Fish Out of Water by Cat Johnson. Cat Johnson's contribution won me at "hello," or as soon as the handsome but rather nerdy and brilliant English professor was introduced. I love how passions run deep and wild once he meets his "cowgirl." She sees more under his pink polo shirt and lack of fishing/camping experience, and he sees more than the "cowgirl" trappings as they take each other for the ride of their lives. This is a sexy summer read that kept me engaged from beginning to end. 4/5
Less enthralling, yet still good enough for me, is Jill Shalvis' Captivated. In this novella, the married protagonists meet at their vacation cottage under highly unusual circumstances just after she serves him with divorce papers. This is a "hot, hot" signature Shalvis piece with chemistry between the couple, great atmosphere and a beautiful summer setting. On the minus side, there is a forced quality to the set up or unusual set of circumstances and the ending is a bit "over-the-top." 3.5/5
Seducing Tabby by Lucy Monroe comes in on the average side with a story about a gorgeous Englishman who sets his rather possessive sights on a curvaceous beauty who believes men only approach her to gather information about her classically gorgeous sister. This story begins with a great premise, but it doesn't quite deliver. It has a nice, slow, non-sexual seduction that I enjoyed, with sexual tension used to build up the relationship. However, for some reason, his quick claims of "love" feel more calculated than passionate, and the end is rushed and rather predictable. 3/5
The one short story that didn't really work for me is Batteries Not Required by Linda Lael Miller. In this romance a woman returns to a town where she lived years ago for a very short period of time and as soon as her feet hit the ground she meets the old boyfriend she ran away from. Things get moving and shaking between the two in the blink of an eye despite the rather superficial misunderstanding that kept them apart for years. Years when they "thought about each other" every so often. This romance and its quick, improbable happy ending felt wrong from the beginning and fell flat for me in the end. 2/5
As you can see, I liked some novellas more than others in the He's The One anthology, but the one winning factor they all have in common is the summer theme. I like that the settings for the romances are different, yet they all fit the theme perfectly. ...more
Fire and Frost begins with Speed Mating by Jessica Sims, a new-to-me author. I enjoyed this short piece about a female lyger (lion/tiger) shifter abouFire and Frost begins with Speed Mating by Jessica Sims, a new-to-me author. I enjoyed this short piece about a female lyger (lion/tiger) shifter about to into heat. She goes to her sexy alpha for advice and decides to look for a mate/father for her cub through speed dating. What I liked the most about this interesting world-building with shifters is that the female can choose her mate. Yes... she has a choice! The story is hot and sexy too.
Then we have Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane, a story set in the world of her Mr. Real series. This story works as a bit of a prequel and gives the reader an idea of how it all begins. I liked both characters, Max and Veronica, and the way magic and technology is integrated in a not-too-distant past. I really like how it ended.
Set in her Iron Seas world, my favorite piece in this three piece collection is Wrecked by Meljean Brook. Brook manages to add to her world-building by introducing new intriguing characters and interesting usage of the machines developed by the Horde, and still manages to satisfactorily develop a believable romance with a happily ever after.
Best Gay Stories 2013 edited by Steve Berman is Lethe Press's yearly collection of twenty of last year's best gay stories. This year's edition is focuBest Gay Stories 2013 edited by Steve Berman is Lethe Press's yearly collection of twenty of last year's best gay stories. This year's edition is focused on different and highly relevant gay themes.
Berman chose a wide variety of stories written by well-known authors as well as new talent. The authors' writing styles are as diverse as their approach to the stories, and by the time I finished reading this collection it became obvious to me why each story and writer was chosen. The themes vary from young to adult love, and from fear of aging to committed partnership and cheating issues, but there is much more.
There is "Irrespective of the Storm" by Mark Ameen, a fantastic story about 1980's gay lifestyle and hookups. "Farewell to Wise's" by William Sterling Walker explores complacency and the need to move on, and Steve Berman's "Bottom of the Menu" manages the question of aging with great wit and eroticism. Also included, there are two must read favorites, "Next Year at Sonny's by Eddy Sarfaty", an excellent essay exploring family, friends and modern gay lifestyle, and an essay I've dubbed "body beautiful" by Peter Knegt, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Have Sex in Gay Art Porn."
As in all collections of this size, there are pieces that stand out and there is always the question of preference, however, I firmly believe that within the twenty stories included in Best Gay Stories 2013 there are plenty of meaningful, excellent pieces to satisfy the most discerning reader. This is certainly a winning collection of gay themed stories for me.
Every year editor Steve Berman publishes one special collection after gathering the best of previously published gay speculative fiction stories writtEvery year editor Steve Berman publishes one special collection after gathering the best of previously published gay speculative fiction stories written by a wide variety of authors. I've loved Berman's collections in past years and Wilde Stories 2013 is no exception. This year's volume, however, is memorable for the different and interesting young adult speculative fiction short stories included. They provide this volume with adventure, a touch of whimsy, and yes, an edge that I really enjoyed.
Breakwater in the Summer Park by L Lark is a light and fun summer camp story with a mysterious monster in the lake whose presence inadvertently helps two boys whose lives are full of insecurities and personal fears about the future. I enjoyed this story in the Boys of Summer anthology and although it is one of the lightest stories in this collection, it definitely belongs. The Keets Variation by K.M. Ferebee on the other hand has young adults as main characters, yet the dense narrative and heavy subject matter give this story edge and weight. Tatooed Love Boys by Alex Jeffers is queer fantasy at its best. With a plot that shifts and curves, this story takes the characters and the reader on a wonderful ride.
I initially read Wave Boys by Vincent Kovar in The Touch of the Sea anthology and loved it so much that it made my 2012 short story "best of" list. This dystopian young adult story is memorable for its fantastic world-building, great adventure, and characters that I feel should be further explored -- it was a pleasure re-reading it again! Another young adult story with excellent world-building is Next Door by Rahul Kanakia. This is an action and anxiety driven futuristic science fiction short set in a society where technology trumps humanity.
Then there's the fantastic and unforgettable story about a boy and his wolf, Sic Him, Hellhound! Kill! Kill! by Hal Duncan. I've never read anything like it. There are some rather ironic references to those dreaded sparkly vampires and the girls who admire them, but what can I say? This story cracked me up, particularly since it is narrated from the dog/wolf's point of view!
---Hello hello hello hello! I love you! ---Yes, I know, I love you too. ---But I really love you! I missed you so much! ---And I missed you too. Yes. I did! Oh yes I did! Now, down you go. ---But I missed you!
From the adult speculative fiction short stories, Wetside Story by Steve Vernon is memorable and the most irreverent in this collection. This fun, creative piece has some crass humor that won't quit. I appreciated it from beginning to end. Imagine a sexy gay squid in love with another squid who has a radioactive smile. Yeah...
Bucky grinned me back a picket fence full of pleasure. The toxic waste that riddled his cavities gave them a wonderfully fluorescent neon gleam. His scales glittered as prettily as those of the dead mackerel had.
My heart went thump.
Changing gears, in Laird Barron's A Strange Form of Life his talents are displayed in all their glory and can be fully appreciated as, in short order, he weaves a fantastic Lovecraftian horror piece. Grierson at the Pain Clinic by Richard Bowes is such a gripping and unique story, about a man and his rather disturbing Shadow, that I couldn't stop thinking about it. And the fantasy, myth-based, whaling adventure Keep the Aspidochelone Floating by Chaz Brechley is another story from The Touch of the Sea anthology that made my 2012 "best of" list. Re-reading this well-written, detailed piece full of action, pirates, and a love story between a mariner and his boy was a pleasure.
I had a tough time choosing favorites in this volume of the Wilde Stories series. Steve Berman included a wide range of stories and gay themes, as well as an excellent mixture of writing styles in Wilde Stories 2013. Combining young adult and adult speculative fiction not only added a creative edge but a unique touch to this collection. ...more
From this anthology, I only read Against All Odds by Lisa Kleypas. It's a novella about Lydia Craven, Sara and Derek Craven's eldest daughter, and DrFrom this anthology, I only read Against All Odds by Lisa Kleypas. It's a novella about Lydia Craven, Sara and Derek Craven's eldest daughter, and Dr Jake Linley.
This is a sweet, short romance that I enjoyed because it served as a sort of epilogue to Dreaming of You. The romance itself needed more page time in order to become more than an average read. Regardless, it's enjoyable enough....more