I’m sure some science fiction purists may be offended by the analogy, but D.B. Story’s work puts me in mind of Isaac Asimov . . . with a shot of ViagrI’m sure some science fiction purists may be offended by the analogy, but D.B. Story’s work puts me in mind of Isaac Asimov . . . with a shot of Viagra. Yes, Sylvia’s Secret is one of his many stories about robots having sex (which is out of the world, if you’ll pardon the pun), but it also has a lot to say about questions of self-awareness, free will, and humanity.
Sylvia is a fembot, currently on her third owner, with one secret feature, and two crucial malfunctions. Designed almost solely for sex appeal, she has the perfect hair, face, skin, height, and figure to maximize her appeal to both sexes. Dressed entire in pink – fur fringed baby doll, silk panties, and pink fur high-heeled sandals – she serves as both a domestic and sexual servant for Stan, her current owner.
Her one secret feature is a beautiful, perfectly formed, perfectly lubricated, fully functioning penis that can emerge from hiding if she is touched in just the right spot.
Her first malfunction is that she has begun to develop self-awareness about her body, and how it pleases her. Her second malfunction is that she has begun to develop free will, overcoming her programming to initiate that pleasure.
When her owner asks a carefully worded question, intentionally designed to explore her malfunctions, she finds herself free to express her secret feature, and to exploit those malfunctions.
What follows from there is a series of sexual encounters that are sensual, creative, and immensely arousing – not the simple robot porn some readers might expect. Intertwined within the erotic embrace of human and machine are some deep thoughts, philosophical musings, and very human conversations. Make no mistake, this isn’t a story about robots falling in love, but it is one about the possibilities of friendship between humans and robots.
As one of his shorter stories, this is a fantastic entry-point into the works of D.B. Story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and anxious to dive into one of his longer works next. ...more
I love science fiction books best when they do something a little outside the norm . . . when they push boundaries . . . and when they make you stop aI love science fiction books best when they do something a little outside the norm . . . when they push boundaries . . . and when they make you stop and think. While I do enjoy some mindless carnage on the big screen, it simply doesn’t work for me on the page. Mind you, what I like on the page doesn’t necessarily translate well to the screen, but I have a pretty solid production crew inside my head.
Anyway, Triptych is a book that I’m delighted to say falls comfortably outside the norm, pushes sexual/racial/gender boundaries, and leaves you quite delighted to stop and think.
Take one heterosexual human couple. Introduce an oddly gendered alien into the mix. Then watch a family emerge, only to be confronted by the worst of both societies. As a story of first contact and social justice, this reminds me of the old TV series Alien Nation. It has that same conscience . . . . that same sense of something significant taking place on a personal and intimate level, even if it is approached in a very different manner.
Given Gwen and Basil’s role within the grand scheme of first contact, I was afraid we’d be left with a lot of technical asides and scientific musings to explore the aliens. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead of being cold and clinical, the approach here is warm and human. I won’t spoil any of what happens between them, but I will say I shed tears of joy and tears of sorrow for this unusual family, and that’s an accomplishment few authors can claim.
Not only is this a wonderful story, but it’s a wonderfully told story. Initially, I had my doubts as to how well it would work – not because of any failing on the part of the author, but simply because there were so many ways it could have gone wrong. Fortunately, the pop-culture references are used wisely; the aliens are neither almost-human nor completely-monstrous (but something interesting in between); the core relationship is loving and tender, presented as something natural (rather than erotic or taboo); and there’s no sign of the usual time travel clichés.
More importantly, beneath all the action and the drama, there are some big questions asked within the novel – the answers to which we’re guided, but have to realise for ourselves. That’s what makes a good science fiction novel memorable, and Triptych certainly is that....more
The line between science fiction erotica and erotic science fiction is often a thin one, and riding the literary edge of that line can be a difficultThe line between science fiction erotica and erotic science fiction is often a thin one, and riding the literary edge of that line can be a difficult task. Stray too far to one side, and you risk alienating those who readers who don’t want any intellectual roadblocks to their arousal. Fall too far to the other side, and you risk losing readers who are uncomfortable with arousal intruding on their philosophical musings.
D.B. Story not only knows precisely where that line runs, but he makes adhering to it seem almost effortless.
Far Future Fembot: Bill's Story is, quite literally, a mind-blowing read. It is very erotic – inventively so – but within the bounds of a very unusual romance that seduces you into the larger story arc. At its warm and fuzzy core, this is a love story about a man and his robot. It’s a romance that begins with moments of awkward, innocent curiosity; develops into a playful game of discovery and delight; and continues to the pinnacle of true love and soul-deep commitment . . . before coming full circle to do it all again.
Bill is a wonderful character. He seems (perhaps) a little too perfect, until you realise we’re only really seeing him through his lover’s eyes. He’s kind, gentle, devoted, giving, and fiercely protective of his family. He is a man who takes nothing for granted, no matter how many times he passes through this life. Bill grows and matures throughout the novel, evolving from merely likeable to entirely admirable, but he never stops being human.
While it’s Bill who keeps us firmly grounded in the story, it’s Anna who enables our imagination (and our libido) to soar. She is, in every possible respect, the perfect robot. Originally designed to be a sexbot in a human brothel, Anna is supremely knowledgeable, and equally talented in all matters sexual or erotic. Over the course of the novel she is gradually transformed by the enduring love of Bill, her eternal owner. Although we never forget that she’s a robot, her ongoing evolution into a sentient being is handled so well, we never question her place alongside Bill as his equal in the relationship.
Thanks to the longevity of human souls and robot circuits, this is a story that takes place over hundreds upon hundreds of years. The mystery of that longevity is certainly one of the driving forces behind the story, due largely to the unusual way in which it’s told. The chapters alternate between the entire span of the distant past, and (for the most part) a single night in the far future. Every ‘past’ chapter bring us a little closer to that far future, slowly narrow the initial gap of centuries down to a handful of years.
Like I said, it’s the romance of Bill and Anna that drives the story, but the way in which the story develops allows for far more intellectual exploration than most readers would expect. This is a novel about religion, politics, and philosophy. It’s a story of the human spirit and human rights, neither of which we discover is the sole prerogative of human beings. It’s not a heavy-handed or preachy tale by any means. Instead, it’s one that prefers to subtly exemplify and illustrate its teachings, rather than just talk about them.
If you’re uncertain about the concept of inter-species romance, especially one involving a robot, please don’t allow yourself to get hung up on the concept of a sex-toy with legs. Think, instead, along the lines of Star Trek’s Data, Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man, or even Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands – characters who become so endearingly human, we want them to actually be human.
There is so much more that I could – and want to – say about this, but explaining it all away does not do justice to D.B. Story’s writing. In order to fully appreciate what he’s accomplished here, you need to read it . . . savour it . . . and enjoy it. This is a story that will cause your heart to race, your chest to heave, and your mind to spin. It will arouse you, educate you, and (above all else) entertain you. ...more
The Flight of the Silver Vixen is the kind of book you’ll enjoy immensely, but really wish you could have read as a young girl. It’s a fun, all-girl,The Flight of the Silver Vixen is the kind of book you’ll enjoy immensely, but really wish you could have read as a young girl. It’s a fun, all-girl, swashbuckling adventure that makes you giddy with joy, even as it causes you to pause every once in a while to reflect upon what's happening beneath the story.
This is the story of a band of teenage girls who steal an experimental spaceship called The Silver Vixen. Forced to enter an ether crease (think Star Trek wormhole), they find themselves on the other side of the universe, on a planet very much like their own, and surrounded by barbarian space-pirates. That’s where the obvious conflict begins, but centuries of isolation on their sister world have created societal and political differences that create deeper, more subtle conflicts of their own. As you might expect, the girls are forced to grow up quickly, as very adult demands (the kind upon which entire civilizations turn) are suddenly placed on them.
To truly appreciate the threat posed by The Kang, it is first necessary to understand the question of gender that’s at the heart of this novel (and which, coincidentally, first appealed to my own heart). The Flight of the Silver Vixen is the story of an intemorph race, one that, to all appearances, consists entirely of women. Of course, when it comes to sex and gender, it’s never quite that simple, and this is by no means a Utopian sexual ideal. In fact, the division of gender is still very sexist, with the blondes being smaller, cuter, more emotional women who need to be buckled in and coddled; and the brunettes being physically larger and stronger women who take on the heavy jobs, and who are often (affectionately) dismissive of their blondes.
The Kang, meanwhile, are schizomorphs – gender mutations who have split into two visually distinct male and female sexes, each exaggerated and extreme in adherence to ‘human’ stereotypes. Beast-like, violent, and aggressive, the men of The Kang are sword-wielding barbarians who could have escaped from any teenage boy's swords-and-sorcery fantasy. Although less advanced in all areas of development, they’ve armed themselves with stolen technology, and are guided by the Dark One (an ancient demon who plays a significant role in the two sister worlds).
The writing is solid, the characters are well rounded, and the dialogue is wonderfully natural – it pulls you in and makes you wish you could interject, comment, and take part in the discussions. There are elements of (alien) teenage girl speak, but these women are mature beyond their years. It is primarily through their interactions with each other (and their sister civilization) that the book’s concepts and assumptions about gender, social class, and philosophy are fully explored. Instead of forcing understanding upon us with narrative asides and long, drawn-out explanations, we are almost subconsciously fed a little more knowledge with every interaction.
Additionally, the more we get to know these girls, the more plausible it seems they’d be able to get away with stealing the Queen’s ship . . . and the more plausible it seems they’ll be able to deal with so many levels of conflict. This is, indeed, a swashbuckling adventure, and one that mixes interstellar battles, sci-fi motorcycle races through fantasy wildernesses, gun-battles and sword-battles (sometimes at the same time), and some verbal sparring that’s as fun and feminist as it is clever (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
My only complaint (and I realise this is a limitation of YA fiction), is that I would have loved to learn more about the sexual nature of the intemorphs. There are a few tantalizing hints and suggestions, and perhaps the questions are meant to be more exciting than the answers, but it still leaves me wondering how it all works. I'm not talking graphic or obscene - I'd just be interested in seeing how a romance might be handled, how a family unit operates, or simply whether attraction lies alongside 'gender' lines (blonde vs brunette) or is more open. I suspect there is still more story to come, so maybe we'll learn more as we go.
Regardless of my curiosity getting the best of me, this is a stellar effort (if you’ll pardon the pun) and definitely worth a read....more
The lovely Giselle Renarde has done it again, first capturing my attention, and then completely surpassing my expectations - if this keeps up, I'm afrThe lovely Giselle Renarde has done it again, first capturing my attention, and then completely surpassing my expectations - if this keeps up, I'm afraid my expectations for her work are going to become simply unreasonable!
This is another well-written story from Giselle with a strong transgender theme. In contrast to the deliberately grounded, realistic nature of her other work, however, this is very much an imaginative work of fantasy. Giselle dedicates this one to "those who believe in magical transformation" and it's as beautiful a sentiment as it is a story.
This is a story filled with humour, romance, and a great deal of heart. You cannot help but feel for Trysta's "female problem", for Professor Selyf's instant attraction to this beautiful woman who has intruded on his solitude, and for Bedwyn's steadfast dedication to seeing his partner through trials he doesn't need to understand to appreciate. The erotic elements are largely limited to the climactic solstice ritual near the end of the story, but it's a very pleasant journey that leads us to that final reward.
Very much like Giselle's Red Satin story, there were several passages here that put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Giselle demonstrates a true understanding for the mental and emotional turmoil inflicted upon Trysta, and never once resorts to exploiting her secret for a quick thrill. Although I don't want to spoil the how and the why of it, I have to say this probably her happiest and most thoroughly satisfying ending yet.
Deviant Ark is one of the most near-perfect reads I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in a very long while. I went into it with such high expectations tDeviant Ark is one of the most near-perfect reads I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in a very long while. I went into it with such high expectations that I was actually reluctant to begin reading it and risk disappointment. Much to my surprise, it fulfilled all of my expectations, and even presented a few wonderful surprises.
Much of the book revolves around the various conflicts between the ‘straight’ authorities, the ‘deviant’ human resistance, and the equally ‘deviant’ alien refugees of I’leana. In a future where the world has been homogenized under a single government (and a single religion), deviance is simply not tolerated. Gays and lesbians are hunted down, abducted, and forcibly ‘reconditioned,’ a process broadcast on live TV as a form of state-sponsored entertainment. Meanwhile, the dual-gendered alien refugees are mocked as much for their gender as for their blue skin and pointed ears, confined to the worst human slums, and treated like slaves.
While a covert Martian resistance cell does exist, operating as much for political as for sexual reasons, they’re simply incapable of driving the kind of change needed to allow the ‘deviants’ to find acceptance. There’s a sense of hopelessness to their efforts, although you can’t help but admire their perseverance.
What holds the story together and provides us with hope is the budding relationship between Marlene and C'est'a. It’s a wonderfully awkward love affair, with Marlene unsure she can handle being attracted to a woman with a penis, and C’est’a exploring her first feelings for a human. Her parents are divided in their opinions of the relationship and end up presenting Marlene with a challenge to prove herself. It is through this challenge that Marlene not only wins their respect, but takes the first steps towards orchestrating cooperation between the resistance and the I’leana.
If the story has a failing – and it may have been intentional on the part of the author – it’s that morality is so closely tied to sexuality. With one or two minor exceptions, the ‘straight’ population is portrayed as a bastion of cruelty and negativity. Similarly, despite a few rough edges, the ‘deviant’ populations (both human and alien) are almost all portrayed lovingly and positively.
Ultimately, Deviant Ark is a serious science fiction story first, an LGBT romance second, and an erotic romp third. The story starts and ends with well-orchestrated space battles, and the climactic confrontation in the streets between the resistance and the army is as horrific as it is heroic. As for the sex scenes, they’re both inventive and exciting in their intensity. More importantly, the sex plays a key role in the story, exposing the alliances and deceptions upon which the fate of the world rests.
Recommended for anybody with an interest in the human condition . . . and an open mind. ...more
Thrace is an interesting collection of 3 short stories - Let Tsygons Be Tsygons, Electric High and An Equal Opportunity Murderer - that are linked byThrace is an interesting collection of 3 short stories - Let Tsygons Be Tsygons, Electric High and An Equal Opportunity Murderer - that are linked by both their setting and their themes.
All 3 stories are set on the alien world of Thrace, a concrete jungle with an atmosphere poisonous to humans. As the closest inhabitable planet to Earth, however, it has proven to be a natural target for . . . well, let's call it colonization. Humans have largely taken over the world, placing the native Tsygons - three eyed, dark skinned, genderless aliens with tails - in a subservient state, leading to the shared theme of racism amongst the stories.
Definitely an interesting read, even if it doesn't make us feel too good about ourselves as a race....more
Every once in a while (if you’re lucky), you come across that one book that so absolutely amazes and delights you that it makes you want to run througEvery once in a while (if you’re lucky), you come across that one book that so absolutely amazes and delights you that it makes you want to run through the streets, singing its praises to the world. The kind of book that’s constantly on your mind, playing with your emotions, and demanding that you find a few more minutes to savour it – because just ‘reading’ it is never enough.
For me, Darcy Abriel’s Silver (Book 1 of the Humanotica series) is that book.
Although this is an intensely sexual read, there is a strong dystopian plot driving the action that would not be out of place in a mass market science fiction novel. The city of Quentopolis is a futuristic empire, controlled by the humans of the Politico, and serviced by the computers of the Elite Logical Life Core. This is a society where mechanical modifications are standard practice, but any citizen who surpasses the 50/50 balance between human and humanotic becomes a slave, chattel for whoever owns them.
Enter the Metallitionist Resistance. Their members violently oppose this notion of slavery, and are actively plotting to disrupt the Politico. For some Resistance members the struggle is about justice and change, but for others it’s simply about revenge.
That contradiction is just one of many that are woven through the story of Silver. This is a story comprised of contradictions – justice/revenge, male/female, slave/master, human/machine, dominant/submissive, science/supernatural – but it’s the unique compromises that Darcy introduces to those contradictions which are so pleasantly surprising.
As I said, this is also an intensely sexual read, with innovative obscenities and novel delights that never cease to amaze, even as they furiously arouse. Silver herself is the centrepiece of all this sexual activity. Once a human female, she has been progressively modified into a thing a beauty, a voluptuous humanotic sex goddess, with a silver-tipped phallus that would put most men to shame. Her body has been designed to both give and receive pleasure, and she has been conditioned by her owner, Lel Kesselbaum, to maximize the intensity and duration of those pleasures.
As for Kesselbaum, he is a member of the Politico and a member of the Dominatae – sexualized nobility who are specifically trained in the erotic art of dominance. Although he seems cold and distant a first, a villainous abuser of the beautiful Silver, brilliant complexities are slowly revealed in both himself and his relationship with her. The ways in which he prepares and displays his Trinex, particularly how he dresses her and sculpts her public appearance, are absolutely glorious to behold.
Further complicating matters is Entreus, once a mechanized Orictian warrior, and now leader of the Metallitionist Resistance. He sees Silver as his access point to Kesselbaum and the Politico, a means of peacefully driving change from within the system itself. At the same time, he is intensely aroused by the very notion of who and what she is, so much so that he’s willing to betray his own nature and allow her to take the upper hand.
It is with Entreus that Silver first explorers her dominant side, brutally penetrating him with her silver-tipped phallus. Directed, enabled, and assisted by the beautiful Violette (Kesselbaum’s female counterpart amongst the Dominatae), their coming together is a scene of such wonder and eroticism that I challenge any reader to finish it with both hands still on the book.
To say much more would be to spoil the surprises that drive the latter half of the book. Suffice to say, every time you think the story has reached its height, every time you figure the sexual innovations have reached their peak, Darcy insists on taking you a bit father. And, just when you think you’ve figured out where the story is going, she exposes a few satisfying twists that force yet another compromise – this time, with the your expectations.
Available from Samhain Publishing on December 21st (just in time for the holidays), Silver is a book that I cannot recommend highly enough. ...more
Yes, Absolutely Perfection is just as wild, crazy, and eccentrically beautiful as the book blurb makes it sound.
The book starts out on a dark note, wYes, Absolutely Perfection is just as wild, crazy, and eccentrically beautiful as the book blurb makes it sound.
The book starts out on a dark note, with a bar interrogation scene that could be taken from any prime time drama - except for the fact that the bartender is a vampire, and his interrogator is a Hindu snake-god in human guise. The banter is very well done, and the introduction of the vampire's family provides our first glimpse of the surreal elements that drive the story along. When Taza comes barelling into the bar, fleeing a human who has mistaken the seahorse for a mermaid and deemed him lunch, the story launches into full-on camp absurdity.
What develops from there is a fairly standard romantic comedy involving unwilling partners who, despite their intentions, fall deeply, madly, and passionately in love. Of course, as much as the plot device is standard, the characters certainly are not. With Tika and Taza we have to non-humans taking on human guises that are bordering between cute twink and effeminate boy. To confuse matters further, both are capable of bearing young, and are equally certain that the other will fulfill that role in their relationship.
The book's one minor failing is that it's so frantic, and so deep with the alien biology of mythological creatures, that the reader can get lost at times. The sex scenes are particularly confusing, especially when Tika is wavering between his natural serpent self and his human guise. In the end, though, the love story is so strong and so rewarding that the reader is more than happy to take the time to go back and reread a few paragraphs.
Ultimately, this is a story unlike any other you're likely to read this year. Novelty aside, it's also wonderfull written, which characters you will almost immediately become invested in....more