Sunday, May 31, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I'll be putting up more pages from the final over the next few months ... or you can read the entire thing on Wynn's Deviantart pages.
As some of you may know things have been kind of tough for me lately. That's why I'm very touched by the folks who've reached out with their kindness and support. I can't believe I can actually say this, but there are too many to thank.
But I have to toss out some special hugs of gratitude to my beloved Jill; my cherished friend, Pauline; the fantastic Jude Mason; my sweet pal AF Waddell; the wonderful Lisabet Sarai; my friend Mick Dementiuk; Jim Brown; Donna George Storey; Oatmeal Girl, Remittance Girl, The Dirty Blond ... and others I'm ashamed to say have slipped my mind for the moment.
And I want to give a warm hug to a new friend, Don, who not only sent me a fantastic note but also some great presents from my amazon wish list!
For Don - and for all my other wonderful friends - here's a little smut story that I tried to also make into a statement about the great people in my life:
"You could have stayed with me," he'd said, the first time I went to Seattle to see him, but stayed in a motel. I hadn't even thought of it, and so the disappointment in his eyes.
I never went back. After he got promoted there wasn't any point.
You could have stayed with me evolves into a fantasy in which those four days play out differently: an invitation made earlier, my discomfort of staying in someone else's house miraculously absent. Fresh off the plane, strap digging into my shoulder (I always overpack), out of the cab and up a quick twist of marble steps to his front door. A knock, or a buzz, and it opens.
A quick dance of mutual embarrassment as I maneuver in with my luggage, both of us saying the stupid things we all say when we arrive somewhere we've never been before. Him: "How was your flight?" Me: "What a great place."
Son of a decorator, I always furnish and accessorize my fantasies: I imagine his to be a simple one bedroom. Messy, but a good mess. A mind's room, full of toppling books, squares of bright white paper. Over the fireplace (cold, never lit) a print, something classical like a Greek torso, the fine line topography of Michangelo's David. A few pieces of plaster, three-dimensional anatomical bric-a-brack on the mantel. A cheap wooden table in the window, bistro candle, and Don't Fuck With The Queen in ornate script on a chipped coffee cup.
Dinner? No, my flight arrived late. Coffee? More comfortable and gets to the point quicker. We chat. I ask him about his life: is everything okay? He replies that he's busy, but otherwise fine. We chat some more. I say that it's a pleasure to work with him. He replies with the same.
I compliment him, amplifying what I've already said, and he blushes. He returns it, and then some, making me smile. My eyes start to burn, my vision blurs, tears threatening. I sniffle and stand up.
He does as well, and we hug. Hold there. Hold there. Hold there. Then, break—but still close together. Lips close together. The kiss happens. Light, just a grazing of lips. I can tell he wants more, but I'm uncomfortable and break it but not so uncomfortable that I can't kiss his cheeks. Right, then left, then right again.
But his head turns and we're kissing, lips to lips again. Does he open his first or do I? Sometimes I imagine his, sometimes mine. But they are open and we are kissing, lips and tongue, together. Hot, wet, hard.
But not on my part. Wet, definitely—in my mind it's a good kiss. A generous and loving kiss. Hot, absolutely, but only in a matter of degrees as his temperature rises and mine does in basic body response.
Not hard on my part, but I am aware of his. Between us, like a finger shoved through a hole in his pocket, something solid and muscular below his waist.
Does he say something? "I want you," "Please touch me," "I'm sorry," are candidates. I've tried them all out, one time or another, to add different flavors, essences, spices to that evening. "I want you," for basic primal sex. "Please touch me," for polite request, respect and sympathy. "I'm sorry," for wanting something he knows I don't.
"It's okay," I say to all of them, and it is. Not just words. Understanding, sympathy, generosity. All of them, glowing in my mind. It really is okay.
I'm a pornographer, dammit. I should be able to go on with the next part of this story without feeling like … I'm laughing right now, not that you can tell. An ironic chuckle: a pornographer unable to write about sex. Not that I can't write about myself, that making who I am—really—the center of the action is uncomfortable, because I've certainly done that before. I've exposed myself on the page so many other times, what makes this one so different?
Just do it. Put the words down and debate them later. After all, that's what we're here for, aren't we? You want to hear what I dream he and I do together. You want to look over my mental shoulder at two men in that tiny apartment in Seattle.
I'm a writer; it's what I do, and more importantly, what I am. So we sit on the couch, he in the corner me in the middle. His hand is on my leg. My back is tight, my thighs are corded. Doubt shades his face so I put my own hand on his own, equally tight, thigh. I repeat what I said before, meaning it: "It's okay."
We kiss again. A friend's kiss, a two people who like each other kiss. His hands touch my chest, feeling me through the thin cloth of turtleneck. I pull the fabric out of my pants with a few quick tugs, allowing bare hands to touch bare chest. He likes it, grinning up at me. I send my own grin, trying to relax.
His hand strokes me though my jeans, and eventually I do get hard. His smile becomes deeper, more sincere, lit by his excitement. It's one thing to say it, quite another for your body to say it. Flesh doesn't lie, and I might have when I gave permission. My cock getting hard, though, is obvious tissue and blood sincerity.
"That's nice," "Can I take it out?" "I hope you're alright with this." Basic primal sex, a polite request including respect and sympathy, and the words for wanting something he knows I don't—any one of them, more added depth to this dream.
My cock is out and because he's excited or simply doesn't want the moment and my body to possibly get away, he is sucking me. Was that so hard to say? It's just sex. Just the mechanics of arousal, the engineering of erotica. Cock A in mouth B. I've written it hundreds of times. But there's that difference again, like by writing it, putting it down on paper (or a computer screen) has turned diamond into glass, mahogany into plywood.
Cheapened. That's the word. But to repeat: I am a writer. It’s what I do. All the time. Even about love—especially about this kind of love.
He sucks my cock. Not like that, not that, not the way you're thinking: not porno sucking, not erotica sucking. This is connection, he to I. The speech of sex, blowjob as vocabulary.
I stay hard. What does this mean? It puzzles me, even in the fantasy. I have no doubts about my sexuality. I am straight. I write everything else, but I am a straight boy. I like girls. Men do not turn me on.
Yet, in my mind and in that little apartment, I am hard. Not "like a rock," not "as steel," not as a "telephone pole," but hard enough as his mouth, lips, and tongue—an echoing hard, wet and hard—work on me.
The answer is clear and sharp, because if I couldn't get hard and stay hard then he'd be hurt and the scene would shadow, chill, and things would be weighted between us. That's not the point of this dream, why I think about it.
So, onto sex. Nothing great or grand, nothing from every section of the menu. A simple action between two men who care about each other: he sucks my cock. He enjoys it and I love him enough to let him. That's all we do, because it's enough.
He sucks me for long minutes, making sweet sounds and I feel like crying. He puts his hand down his own pants, puts a hand around his own cock. For a moment I think about asking him if he wants help, for me to put my hand around him, help him jerk off. But I don't. Not because I don't want to, or because I'm disgusted, but because he seems to be enjoying himself so much, so delighted in the act of sucking me, that I don't want to break the spell, turn that couch back into a pumpkin.
He comes, a deep groan around my cock, humming me into near-giggles. He stops sucking as his gasps and sighs with release, looking up at me with wet-painted lips, eyes out of focus. I bend down and kiss him, not tasting anything but warm water.
I love him. I wanted to thank him. I hope, within this dream, I have. The night that didn't happen but could have.
For me, writing is just about everything: the joy of right word following right word all the way to the end. The ecstasy of elegant plot, the pleasure of flowing dialogue, the loveliness of perfect description. Sex is good, sex is wonderful, but story is fireworks in my brain. The reason I live. The greatest pleasure in my life.
And he has given me that, with nearly flowing letters on an agreement between his company and I, between his faith in my ability and myself. He looked at me, exposed on the page of a book, in the chapter of a novel, in the lines of a short story, and didn't laugh, didn't dismiss or reject. He read, nodded, smiled, and agreed to publish.
Sex cannot measure up to that. Bodies are bodies, but he has given me a pleasure beyond anything I'd felt: applause, and a chance to do much, much more with words, with stories.
He doesn't have a name, this man in my fantasy. There have been a lot of them over the years, and a lot more in the future, no doubt. Gay men who have touched me in ways no one has ever touched me before, by making love with my soul through their support of my writing. Each time they have, this fantasy has emerged from the back of my mind, a need to give them the gift they have given me: passion and kindness, support and caring, and pure affection.
I worry about this. I worry that they won't understand, take this secret dream of mine as being patronizing, diminishing them to nothing but a being with a cock who craved more cock. I've confessed a few times, telling a select few how I feel about them, how I wish I could do for them what they have done for me, to be able to put aside my heterosexuality for just an evening, an afternoon, and share total affection together.
Luckily, or maybe there really isn’t anything to worry about, the ones I've told, they smile, hold my hand, kiss my cheek, say the right thing and to this day, even right now, make me cry: "I wish we could too, but I understand. I love you too."
Am I bi? I know I'm physically not—I simply don't get aroused by men—but that doesn't mean I don't adore men, or for the ones I care about, the men who have touched my soul through their support and affection for my stories and writing, I wish I couldn't change. More than anything I wish I could give them what they have given me.
With a cock or a pen, with a story or hours of wonderful sex, it all comes down to one thing: love.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The neighborhood kids are playing songball again. I don’t mind - except when that poor hydrocephalic kid from down at the Corporate Dormitories plays. His voice just grates on me -- and three times now he’s hit just the right frequency, causing my precious candyglass trinkets from that wonderful Summer at Bronze Beach to explode like kitsch-shrapnel hand grenades.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
For a topic involving laughter, what you’re about to read is not amusing. Creepy and disturbing, yes. Funny, no.
Things supposedly started innocently enough. Kashasha, near Lake Victoria in Tanzania in 1962: One girl in a boarding school there told another girl a joke. Maybe, “Have you heard the one about?” or “A Jew, an Indian, and Herbert Hoover walk into a bar …” or “Take my wife, please … ” Whatever the setup, the delivery, or punch line, the result was laughter. Whether it was a giggle, a guffaw, a chortle, a snort is irrelevant. The listener found it funny.
But then things went dark, weird, and creepy: one girl laughed, but then so did another, and then another, and then another, and then another.
After exposure, the incubation period from nothing to hysteria was short, from a few hours to a couple of days. There was no fever, no physical symptoms, just laughter and occasional crying between short moments of exhausted recuperation. When victims were restrained they sometimes became violent.
No one knew what to do. The school administrators were puzzled, local doctors were confused. Trying to put a lid on the phenomena, the administrators shut the school down.
But that was too little, too late: Whatever it was began to spread. It infected other schools and worked its way into the village, seemingly carried by infected students. It traveled to another village 20 miles away, and another 55 miles from Kashasha.
Even weirder, it wasn’t a constant thing. Like little hysterical explosions, the laughter would pop up, disable small groups for days at a time, then vanish.
Want to know what it was like? Well, it wasn’t funny, I can tell you that: one victim in Tanganyik reported watching it spread around him, hitting one neighbor after another: giggles, guffaws, chortles, snorts – horrible, nightmarish laughter. Terrified, he retreated into his home. But then he began to feel it too, a compulsion to join in with the hideous joke. He shouted and cried and – naturally -- laughed throughout the night.
The phenomena is called Mass Psychogenic Illness, more commonly known as mass hysteria, and although the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic is an extreme version, it’s more common than you think. In fact what’s really scary about the giggling madness that sprung from one girl’s joke in Kashasha isn’t that it occurred but that many researchers believe it happens so often, and is so powerful, that we simply aren’t aware of it. Or rather we aren’t aware how much the phenomena controls us.
Ever hear the one about the Mad Gasser of Mattoon? In the 1930s -- all the way through to the mid 40s -- the residents of Botetourt County, Virginia, and Mattoon, Illinois, were terrorized by a surreal specter. Also called the “Anesthetic Prowler" or "The Phantom Anesthetist," he was supposedly a dark, mysterious figure responsible for dozens of victims falling ill from mysterious gasses flooding their homes. Whole families reported sudden attacks of choking, dizziness, headaches and various respiratory ailments.
The cops couldn’t catch him and doctors were baffled by the mysterious ailments of his victims. The FBI was called in but they couldn’t catch him either. Bulletins were circulated, newspapers warned residents to be on the lookout, vigilante groups roamed the streets trying to catch him -- in short, everyone went more than a little nuts trying to catch this gassy assailant.
But evidence suggests that he never existed. Sure, lots of people got sick, dozen and dozens and dozens more reported seeing dark and mysterious figures up to hideous no good stalking the night, and the authorities were run ragged with reports but there were no leads, nothing solid; nothing but suggestion, victims suffering from anxiety and fear, and the bizarre power of mass hysteria.
Ever hear the one about the Monkey Man of New Delhi? About four feet tall, sporting a metal cap and steel claws, he terrorized many a New Delhi night in 2001. Victims reported being savagely scratched and bitten by the odd ape. What’s worse is what happened to people scared of the ape: an unlucky short man was beaten by a mod who suspected him of being the ape, a pregnant woman fell down some stairs because neighbors had shouted that the ape had been seen, and others were said to have seriously injured themselves running away from what they thought was the ape.
The punch line for the Monkey Man is the same as for the laughing girls of Kashasha and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon: it was all in their minds.
You might guffaw and giggle about how silly those girls behaved, or how naive the folks of Mattoon were, or how ridiculous the Monkey Man sounds, but before you do too much laughing think about what some researches are hypothesizing: that much of what we believe about the world, about its horrors and mysteries -- including witch trials of every sort, communist conspiracies, UFOs, Satanic cults, white slavery, environmental illnesses, and so much more -- are nothing but signs of the tremendous power of the human mind, coupled with the drive to become one with the crowd.
Now ain’t that funny?
... I also got another note from the ever lovely M.Christian (one of my serious favorite authors ever) and he is just wonderful. (HI! this is where you picture me waving madly at my monitor).
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The word definitely gets tossed around way too much -- and too frivolously -- but even so, everyone pretty much agrees that Hemmingway was one, Einstein was one, Michelangelo was one, Frank Lloyd Wright was one, Freud was one ….
And then there’s Theo Jansen.
Without a doubt, with no hyperbole: Theo Jansen is an absolute genius.
You might not have heard of this particular Dutchman – unlike, say, others like Vermeer, Leeuwenhoek, or Huygens – but believe me, Theo Jansen deserves to be among their genius standing.
You see, Theo Jansen is an artist, but not just any artist. He doesn’t paint, doesn’t work in clay. Theo Jansen is a sculptor: he creates, from his own mind and imagination, intricate mechanisms. There have been other sculptors who've created work that moves – and there will be again – but what makes Theo’s work so amazing, so blindingly brilliant, is that his creations walk, stroll, stride, and amble. Yes, they walk.
Instead of being powered by primitive steam or modern electricity,
Theo’s creations are propelled by the air, by wind. They are strolling clipper ships, sauntering sailboats.
Just watch them -- they’re hypnotic, dreamy. Undulating beasts marching along the seaside, elaborate mechanisms walking through the surf spray ….
But Theo Jansen is not the only magnificently original artist out there doing things with gears and pulleys and wire and leverage. Many other artist/engineers are working on a wide range of ways to mix mechanical joints with organic precision to create devices that walk like living creatures -- though whether those creations are as whimsical as Jansen's is open to debate.
One truly spectacular group, lead by François Delarozière, is called La Machine. Uniting engineers – who know how to make things move –and artists – who have outrageous visions -- La Machine has created some truly awesome devices for some truly amazing events.
Recently, for instance, a 37-ton spider descended down the side of a building in Liverpool, in the United Kingdom. La Princesse, as she was called, proceeded through the city, her elegantly mechanical walk controlled by a team of skilled puppeteers. To say that the sight of this playfully nightmarish creature took the city by surprise is an understatement.
But the masterminds of La Machine have had other tricks up their wildly inventive sleeves, as well. In 2005, in public squares in cities all around the world, a massive Jules Verne inspired rocket ‘crashed’ to a landing. After a brief time a girl emerged from it. But this was not just any girl: she was a immense marionette controlled by dozens of skilled La Machine performers. Dreamlike, she walked – and even rode a scooter -- through city streets, taking in the adoration and amazement of the crowds.
But soon she was joined by an even greater kinetic marvel. Another elaborate puppet, the Sultan’s Elephant of La Machine, is an artistic and engineering marvel: a 50-ton imitation operated by more than 22 puppeteers. Watching the girl and the elephant … well, I’ve already called it ‘dreamlike.’ How about mesmerizing, incredible … or just unbelievably very cool?
Since we’re chatting about amazing mechanical/artistic creations, we have to mention the artist Frederick Roland Emett. Sure, you can point to Rube Goldberg, who certainly deserves praise, but Frederick Roland Emett has a leg up on Goldberg for his incredibly diverse work. Not only are his illustrations wild, fanciful, and outrageous but he also created many insanely elaborate sculptures and creations. Looking like Willy Wonka’s hallucinations, or Dr. Suess' nightmares, Emett’s sculptures have an entrancing craziness that’s dazzlingly hypnotic.
Creating something beautiful and wonderful takes one kind of skill, but to bring it to mechanical life – well, that takes genius.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
There’s a lot of ways you could label Vacuum Flowers by Michael Swanwick: cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, pre-transhuman, post-posthuman … and all those other silly labels pretentious science fiction reviewers and nit-picking analysts have been sticking on various books since the genre began to be taken -- or took itself -- too seriously.
But I have a better label for it. One I think says a lot more about this delightful book than any pre- or post- definition anyone could give it.
Sure, Vacuum Flowers does neatly fit into the cyberpunky domain (pre- or post- or whatever): set in an accessible where earth has been overrun by The Comprise, a voracious digital hive-mind, and the remaining free-will humans has escaped out into the solar system. The protagonist, Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark, begins the story like all good protagonists, as the subject of shadowy forces out to get something she possesses – and, naturally, what she isn’t exactly what she possesses.
But what makes Swanwick’s novel so wonderfully unique is that Rebel isn’t really Rebel. Originally a restless personality tester, someone who tries on artificial identities, she did the unthinkable and found a perfect one for her – Rebel’s – and stole it. See, in the post/pre (whatever) world of Vacuum Flowers personalities, memories, abilities, are as changeable as putting on, or taking off, make-up. In fact, Swanwick is credited by many as being one of the first creators of wetware, the idea of ‘painting on’ software to do just that.
And a lot of painting goes in Vacuum Flowers, but to Swanwick’s credit he takes this esoteric and possibly-confusing concept and makes it deceptively easy to understand, the book completely readable and totally enjoyable.
Just like the best of Alfred Bester, Swanwick is also deliciously and dazzling inventive, each page sparkling with memorable details and dazzling inventiveness: a blindly-focused quasi-communistic society dedicated to terraforming Mars, a renegade ‘mob boss’ who entertains himself by twisting the minds of his prisoner/guests, a multiple-personality ‘hero’ who has just the right mind for pretty much any job … Swanwick coolly and seductively brings the reader into Rebel’s kaleidoscopically fantastic, yet completely real-feeling world.
Yep, there are a lot of labels that could be tossed at Michael Swanwick’s Vacuum Flowers: post-this, post-that, transhuman, posthuman, cyberpunk ... whatever. The best label, though, and one that fits the novel so very well is one that every writer wants to get: A Really Good Book.
There’s a scene in The Anubis Gates that’s stayed with me ever since I first read it, some twenty or so years ago: our hero, Brendan Doyle, a professor at California State University Fullerton (one of my old alma maters, by the way), has found himself magically transported back to London in 1810.
Doyle, fascinated by a time he’s only read about, but also devastated that he’s trapped forever in the past, is walking through a street market when he hears someone whistling a tune, a song he suddenly realizes he knows.
The tune? “Yesterday” by the Beatles.
For me, that’s a special moment of brilliance in a novel packed full of all kinds of brilliances: a shivering little touch of perfect story-telling. One of the things I think is particularly excellent about the book is the way that Powers sort of restrains himself in his writing. Put it this way, if someone else were to write The Anubis Gates, especially these days, they’d have a tendency to make the book’s language too closely mirror the style and language of the time. But what Tim Powers does in The Anubis Gates is, instead, get to the basic – and fantastic – nature of a book from that time without resorting to overly-elaborate tricks.
The story-telling language in The Anubs Gates is the best kind of writing, smooth and seamless – infinitely readable and totally enjoyable.
But back to what makes The Anubis Gates so special. Like I said, what Powers has done is create an marvelously enjoyable book filled with the characters and details that feel like they’ve come from every Penny Dreadful and broadsheet from the 1800s: Horrabin, the nightmare clown and king of the London beggars; Jacky, the beggar who is actually the daughter of nobility on a quest for revenge; Amenophis Fikee, magician and leader of a gypsy clan cursed to become the body-thief Dog-Faced Joe, and so much more.
But The Anubis Gates is not just a playground for the author’s vivid imagination, for many real literary and historical celebrities also walk across the stage: Byron, publisher John Murray and many others. The world Powers creates – or just the past of the real world he plays in -- feels vivid, real, and always enjoyable.
In the end, the Anubis Gates remains a classically stylish and brightly imaginative novel told in a delightfully elegant way – an enjoyable read that feels timeless, which is quite an accomplishment for a book about time and travel.
These six quick-read stories offer something about anything for anyone -- gay, straight, lesbian, BDSM ... you name it - including stories that have never been previously released or published!
"MOVING" - Straight BDSM erotica
In Sylvia’s dungeon, when you’re told not to move you’d better not ...
"TWO MEN IN A BOAT/ON THE SCREEN" - Includes gay erotica
Two steamy tales, of two quite different types of passion!
"HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD" - Gay erotica
Sometimes meeting your big screen hero doesn’t end quite the way you wish ...
"HACK WORK" - Speculative, futuristic, straight erotica
In the future, we may use others remotely for our own pleasures, but what of the one ‘taking the ride?’
"SUNLIGHT" & "HER MASTER'S VOICE" - Includes gay and BDSM erotica
Another two scintillating tales of sensuality, both quite different.
"A LIGHT MINUTE" - Lesbian erotica
Online, Sasha has breath-
M.Christian is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. He is the editor of 20 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, and others. He is the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll.
M. Christian is the chameleon of modern erotica. One day punk, another romantic; one day straight, another totally perverse and polyamorous. But always sexy and and gripping.
- Maxim Jakubowksi, editor of the Mammoth Book of Erotica series
M. Christian is to erotica what Swarovski crystals are to Liberace: essential.
- Clint Catalyst, author of Cottonmouth Kisses
M. Christian's stories are the fairy tales whispered to one another by dark angels whose hearts and mouths are brimming with lust. He goes beyond the pale, ordinary definitions of sexuality and writes about need and desire in their purest forms. Readers daring enough to stray from the safety of the path will find in his images and words a garden of delights to tempt even the most demanding pleasure-seeker.
-- Michael Thomas Ford, Lambda Literary Award winner and editor
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
There are a lot of ways to look at Heinlein's classic, The Puppet Masters: as a perfect example of what makes a 'Heinlein' book (a determined uberman, a fiery female, sparkling language, etc), an ideal cold-war parable (US vs relentless, soul-sucking invaders out to turn us into mindless slaves), or as an examination of classic paranoia (who can you trust?), but for this review let's take a look at The Puppet Masters as a book about hunting dragons.
No, there are no dragons in The Puppet Masters. Set in a near future US after a limited nuclear war, the book is about a covert alien invasion -- a rarity for Heinlein -- by 'slugs:' parasitic lifeforms that control their human hosts. In this way it's a perfect companion to Jack Finney's Body Snatchers: an unearthly threat not just to our world but to our sense of identity. With Finney the aliens impersonated the people around us; with The Puppet Masters the aliens control everyone around us -- two sides of a similar coin.
But while Finney approached the theme with sly terror and sneaky suspense, Heinlein puts us in the shoes of 'Sam' an opperative for a so-secret-no-one-knows-about-it-but-the-presdient organization simply called 'The Section' -- run with an iron fist by 'The Old Man' -- that discovers and then fights against the invading parasites.
This is what makes the book so interesting. Sure it has Heinlein's fun use of language, a tough-but-not-robotic hero, a flamboyant female character, and his always-interesting social commentary (some so subtle as to escape everyone but a very determined reader); absolutely it works as a Cold War analogy with its war between unique identity and faceless uniformity; and, certainly, it works as a paranoiac mind-game where you literally cannot trust anyone; but then there is the dragon.
What I mean is 'dragon' in the Nietzsche sense: "The man who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon." Sure "Sam" is our hero but he is also a victim of his own organization's ruthlessness: he cannot remember his original face, for instance, for his so many disguises and alterations. The "Section" reads less like a 'boy's own hero' bunch of freedom fighters than it does a Kafka nightmare bureu of manipulation of everyone and everything. Sure the 'slugs' are nasty, evil, horrible creatures, but reading through the book a niggling suspicion rises that the forces that are working against them are ... well, if not as bad then are just a different flavor.
This devilish gray area of what makes the book so enjoyable -- in a dark and disturbing way. Reading The Puppet Masters you come away with the unsettling feeling that Heinlein's mind-controlling 'Masters' may mean creatures from outer space, our own ruthlessly cold determination to stop them or ... well, both.
A book of straight, lesbian and gay S/M stories to be published by Logical-Lust (www.logical-lust.com ).
For this edition of the series writers are encouraged to experiment with the basic idea of what S/M erotica play is -- and could be -- as well as how our modern world has changed the possibilities and potentials of S/M. Examples could be stories that challenge established ideas of dominance and submission, that play with its practice with new technology, that challenge gender roles, or that push limits of play space versus the real world. While this is not a science fiction anthology stories that project the impact of current technology and social changes would be acceptable.
Stories should be focused on the dominance and submission side of S/M play, though stories that also include sadism and masochism will be considered if they fit the anthology criteria. While I respect the wide variety of S/M experiences, keep in mind that nonconsensual sex (i.e. rape) stories are not what this project is about.
If you have questions about whether or not your story may work for this anthology, please contact me with your questions or concerns.
Both previously published as well as original works will be considered.
Deadline for Submissions: July 31, 2009
Rights: First North American Anthology Rights
Payment: $25, paid on publication
Submissions should be emailed as an attachment to email@example.com (rtf format only, contact info must be on all attachments)
Erotica With a City By The Bay Kink
A book of straight and female-focused bisexual erotic stories set in, and featuring the allure of, San Francisco. To be published by Renaissance E Books (http://shop.renebooks.com), tentatively scheduled for Fall 2009.
There’s no doubt that San Francisco is a sexy city with a long and noble erotic history. Sex In San Francisco is to be an anthology of erotic short stories exploring and celebrating the sexy side of this great American city.
Stories should not just be set in the city but actually use the city itself – its history, style, ideals and attitudes – as a majority part of their sexual dynamic. Stories can be modern, though a few historical stories will be considered.
If you have questions about whether or not your story may work for this anthology, please contact me with your questions or concerns.
Previously published as well as original works will be considered.
Story length: 2,000 to 5,000 wordsEmail submissions should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org (rtf format only, be sure to include contact information on all attachments)
Deadline for Submissions: July 1, 2009
Rights: First North American Anthology Rights
Payment: $25, paid on publication
Questions? Contact M. Christian (email@example.com)
Monday, May 11, 2009
I’ve just finished reading M.Christian’s superb collection of stories, LICKS AND PROMISES, and I’m trying to catch my breath. Such a fascinating display of twists and turns, demonstrating the themes of desire, lust, disappointment, betrayal, death and more.
There’s humour here too, in the brilliant “Regrets.” Who says Americans don’t do irony? Well, the Brits mostly, and I am one. But Christian shows that up for the silly concept that it is, in this wonderfully, intelligent piece of satire.
And there are tears in “The Waters of Biscayne Bay.” Grief and anger for a lost love and the fulfilment of a lover’s last wishes.
Christian gives us an innovative look into Edward Hopper’s great painting; NIGHTHAWKS, in his story of the same name. He teaches us, how to read a painting. Who is the woman with the red hair, in the red dress? Is the man sitting next to her partner, or are they two strangers desiring each other? Both, are lost in their thoughts. Christian subtly weaves a story around Hopper’s haunting painting. He walks us around this enigmatic couple, and we ponder about what might, or might not be going on.
There’s a lament in “The Waters of life" and a sense of loss as Christian reveals that the loved and revered art work is not what it seems. The loved one is not what he seemed, and we taste the bitter flavour of disappointment.
In “The House of the Rising Sun," a woman learns to love, and live again, after a betrayal, and in the wonderful “In Control,” just who is in control? The self important dom, who’s too mean to pay more than $50 for a sex toy, or the canny sub, who takes her pleasure, and leaves?
There’s a twist at the end of, “Her First Thursday Evening." A guy edits, and changes his lover’s first disastrous sexual experience, into one that is beautiful. But he can’t rewrite his own story; he wishes he could.
Through this wonderful collection, M.Christian shows the skill and diversity of a unique writer. He creates solid, fully rounded characters. He tells us stories that are enticing, he draws us in. He makes us laugh; very often he makes us cry. Christian loves language and words. Never, never dull, he encourages the reader to identify with and empathise with, his skilfully drawn characters. He brings us back to the simplicity of reading great stories, that stay with us long after we have closed the book.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Effective Writing for Adult Websites
June 27, 2009 -- 1:30pm - 2:20pm
As the Internet grows more prominent in the successful operation of adult businesses, the written word likewise gains importance. From fictional stories to blogs, reviews and social interactions, much of the action online happens through the display and transmission of simple text. Effective writing is of tremendous importance to the success of adult Internet businesses, and poor quality writing is a fast way to lose visitors to the competition. This panel discussion will focus exclusively on the importance of writing online, how to write effectively, and what opportunities exist in adult space for talented writers.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
That’s not to say that as the ships have rocked and rolled on the high sees the crew didn’t do their own kind of rhythm magic. Women might have been banned -- with extreme penalties in many cases for any attempts to break the rule -- but sex and the sea have always been part of a sailor’s life.
The logic behind banning women from being sailors appears sound -- for about a minute: to keep the swabbies in line, and to prevent in-fighting among those who might be getting, and might not be getting, it was thought better to keep the ships all male. In response to the obvious homosexual outlet for all that testosterone juice, many admiralties prohibited sex between crewmates -- with punishments ranging from simple monetary fines to floggings.
The fact though was that the big-wigs with the fruit salad on their chests were hundreds or thousands of miles away, so it was usually the discretion of the Captain on whether queer sex was a good thing or a bad thing.
Some captains and ships even bent the rules considerably, and thus was born the Captain’s Wife or Daughter: a courtesan brought on board simply to service the officers of the ship. Other Captains obeyed the letter of the law, while not embracing the spirit -- and thus allowing their crews to ‘embrace’ their own smuggled-aboard women, cross-dressed as fellow swabbies.
Even pirates, who some would think would be lax when it comes to rules and regulations, were much more stern in their sharing of the sexual favors of their fellow crews. Always concerned with equality among their crews, some pirate charters went as far as requiring ‘stranding’ on a desert or severe floggings as punishments for bring aboard women. It’s ironic that two of the more legendary pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, were women -- and who managed to escape the gallows by the singular female plea of the time: “we plead our bellies” meaning they were pregnant.
Pirates, by and large, during this time treated women -- particularly women captives -- rather well. Part of it was wanting to stay on fairly good terms with the authorities (nothing like ravaging some women to get your ship hunted down) but also because women fetched high prices as merchandise as well as in ransom from rich fathers and husbands. A crewman guilty of harming a female captive was treated as someone who had either stolen or damaged merchandise -- a very serious charge in pirate law.
While women (when they weren’t captain, that is) were banned from ships, sailors managed to keep their sanity by keeping any number of common-law wives in a variety of ports. The system worked actually rather well, since the pirates were at the whim of the wind and available profit -- and many of their wives were also the wives of other pirates, sailing on other ships. The only time there was a problem was when there was a question of seniority, such as when a husband died and his goods had to be divided among his wives -- in such cases the women he was married to the longest usually won out, unless the younger one had children. Pirates, for their mush-maligned reputations, were remarkably civilized.
Other pirate societies, such as the buccaneers, created a form of partnership that often included homosexual love. Matelots were a form of permanent relationship between two men that served in many ways the needs of both financial as well as emotional well-being. Many men were more protective and emotionally tied to their matelots than their own wives -- going so far as to will them their lands and goods.
Early Christian Missionaries -- and puritans in general who sought to kill or capture pirates -- often used these forms of same-sex marriage to condemn their society, though it’s telling that the fact that these men where practicing homosexual love and marriage wasn’t as damaging as the rumor that was also spread that some of the gay pirates were converting to Islam -- a more accepting faith (at least at the time): religious intolerance obviously being a greater motivator than simple queer sex.
In more rough-and-tumble pirate societies, such as among the famous South China sea pirates, sex and love between men became a political force as well as a sexual one. Kidnapped as children from raided ships, the boys would often form long-lasting sexual relationships among themselves as well as their captors that later helped hold together the scattered pirate tribes.
While women were always a question, at best, or a big problem, at worst, on ship there was a long-standing tradition of sexual release in the form of the cabin boy. For many years, the position of cabin boy required duties that weren’t on the usual cook/captain/first mate’s job description. Often, however -- especially for those ‘boys’ with experience -- the other requirements were pretty obvious, in other words to sexually service either the officers or the entire crew.
For those not familiar with these duties, the crew had a special tradition to ‘enlighten’ a new cabin boy. What makes this tradition interesting is the masking they used to lure the young lad into the bowels of the ship. The story they told was of an ancient maritime tradition (presumably concurrent with keeping women off-ship), where each and every ship -- when it’s keel was laid -- was given a special, good-luck, gold rivet.
It’s taken thousands of years, but finally women are serving without a problem on ships -- both civilian as well as military (well, depending on the country). But if you’re on-board an get an invitation to view the lucky golden rivet I would still think twice -- unless you’re into that kind of thing, of course.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
The whys shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After all, when Mr. and Mrs. Neanderthal tut-tutted about the sorry state of the neighborhood, what with all those Homo Sapiens moving in and all, they did it around a nice warm fire – in a cave.
What is surprising is that even though early man lived in caves for a very, very long times we’ve pretty much abandoned having granite floors and ceilings, homes hewn – or simply found – inside stern mountains.
Pretty much, though, isn’t everyone – and even though most of now live above ground a few very back-to-basics people have returned to living below ground: out of necessity in many cases, and, a rare few, because they simply liked it.
One town that bridges below ground and above ground is the charming Spanish city of Setenil De Las Bodegas. While a lot of the elegant town is above ground, many of it is also tucked in a wandering network of caves under its sheltering cliffs. Because Setenil De Las Bodegas has been a living city for centuries it also lacks the dust and decay that sometimes haunts a lot of ancient underground settlements.
If you want to talk about an almost mystical kingdom that lived as much under the ground as on it then you have to talk about the Cappadocians. So in tune were these ancient Turks (who were there long before there was a Turkey, actually) with the earth when they carved entire towns and cities into like natural outcroppings they did it so elegantly as to look as flowing and natural as … well, nature. Sure, time has ruined a lot of their work but still today you can see hints of their craftsmanship and geological architectural skill in what of their cities and tunnels still survive.
What’s also fascinating about underground cities is how they can hide, right under out feet, for centuries. Another Turkish underground city was discovered in 1972 when a local farmer noticed his water supply was going somewhere it shouldn’t – that somewhere turning out to be a massive underground city, called Özkonak, that – at it’s height – could have been home to (wait for it) over 60,000 people. Yes, you may whistle.
There’s not enough space here to go into every ancient underground city – mainly because, like with Özkonak, some of them have no doubt yet to be found – especially if we decide to be generous and stretch the definition of what a city might be. After all, sometimes underground chambers and tunnels never planned to be cities have become makeshift ones, like with the catacombs of Paris and the Resistance during the Second World War.
It gets even fuzzier if you include man-made underground structures and not just cities carved by hand into stone. If you use that definition the world is honeycombed by modern underground cities, especially in congested cities like Tokyo, Singapore, London, and New York.
Putting aside the questions of what is or isn’t a real underground city there’s one that has to be mentioned. Yes, it’s ancient, but it was also a living subterranean community up until very recently.
What’s also odd about it was that it was carved not from stone but from salt. Started sometime in the 13th century (again, you can whistle), the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland has been in almost continuous operation until 2007. Stretching over 300 kilometers long, it goes as deep as 327 meters. Okay, that’s impressive, but what’s really staggering is that the mine was home to generations of workers and their families, who transformed their simple mine into a cathedral of brilliant and awe-inspiring art.
Purely a labor of love, the miners carved the salt into statues, a chandelier, and even into a chapel. But that’s not all: the mine also features a movie theater, an underground lake, a café … all the amenities of life on the surface but rather deep in the living earth.
As with narrow houses we talked about before, as the population rises and living space shrinks, its looking more and more likely that many people will be living as their great, great, great ancestors did: below the ground – though at least this time when we complain about the neighbors it’ll be by the light of something much more sophisticated than a roaring fire.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Part of my writing life used to be answering teenagers' questions about sex. I liked answering those questions; one, because I loved feeling the righteous fury of educating kids on sex - when so many have this mad-ape delusion that if you don't teach them, they won't do it; two, because it fascinated me to hear what kids were up to, and what their level of ignorance/knowledge was; and three, it was a way of making sure that at least a few of them wouldn’t have to go through the hideous morass of outright lies and twisted, embarrassing myths that flying around the schoolroom, playhouse, or network news show.
Very little came up in those years that flat-out punched my buttons. Sure there were a few abuse cases (“talk to your teacher, a policeman, an adult you trust.”), a few coming out heartbreakers (“you are not alone”), and a few just plain obnoxious ones - like the 'kid' who sent me 500+ messages in a single day (I got him kicked off his ISP) - but nothing that's really made me froth at the mouth. Until, that is, I got my 501st virginity question.
“My boyfriend licked me, am I a virgin?”, “My boyfriend fucked me in the ass, am I a virgin?”, “A girl touched my special area, am I a virgin?”, “My girlfriend blew me, am I a virgin?”, “I had cybersex with a mouth-breathing, VD infected, Mormon traffic cop - am I a virgin?”
The one thing I couldn’t say during my stint in that in that polite venue I can finally say now: WHO THE FUCK CARES!?
Sex, in this day and age, can kill you. Forget HIV, Hepatitis that can kill you faster, and nastier. Even if you're not gonna die, you can still spend the rest of your days in pain from something like genital warts, or herpes - and don't forget those old favorites, crabs, gonorrhea, syphilis, and many, many more. Of all things kids should be worrying about VIRGINITY AIN'T ONE OF THEM!
I have one thing to say to anyone out there who wants to give me a hard time for giving these 'sweet, innocent kids' a hard time: FUCK YOU!! What do YOU think should be more important to kids: virginity or DYING?! And before you start slinging that bullshit about abstinence, get this through your thick skull: In all the years I answered those questions only a bare dozen were “I’m thinking about” or “what if I?” Every other one was after the fact: there's this poor kid sitting there on his/her bed after they’ve and the first thing you’ve taught them to think is “Am I still a virgin?”
But I shouldn't be so pissed at them: they're just kids after all, just young sprouts trying to grow in the poor light and weak soil you’ve give them. Nah, I don't really blame them for their ignorance and misguided priorities.
I BLAME YOU!
I tried to do my part to get those kids to realize that sex is wonderful, special, damned lots of fun, and - if you’re not careful - potentially fatal. The least you could have done was back me up on this: talk to your kids about condoms and safe(r) sex, try to teach them that even if they aren't planning on having sex they should still know how to do it safety. Teach kids about love, trust, respect - and what you can catch by dirty toilet seats (crabs) and what you can't by kissing (HIV). Teach them that virginity is dogshit compared to life, and how to live to a ripe, and randy, old age.
They're YOUR kids, after all - I just answered their questions. YOU raise them.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
As some of you folks might know, I have a brand new collection of my 'straight' erotica coming out very soon from the fantastic folks at Phaze Books, as both a print as well as an ebook, called Licks & Promises.
I'm happy to say that, thanks to my pal Lisabet Sarai, I just got an early review from The Romance Studio:
Licks and Promises takes the reader across the country and back in a series of erotic vignettes about love in its many aspects. In House of the Rising Sun, Amina finds both a reason to live and a new kind of lover. Dust observes a couple’s lovemaking in the midst of crisis against the background of a desert pool, and In Control questions who is really in charge in a sub/dom interaction.
These three are just a sampling of the nineteen stories in this collection. This was my first M. Christian book and I will definitely read more. The depth of sensuality in each story, the attention to each sense, sight, sound, taste, takes the reader right into the room with the characters. His imagery is simply breathtaking.
Although the stories are brief, they are very complete, each is worth liking on its own. Jasmine the sexually active disembodied hippie in The Tinkling of Tiny Silver Bells, Randolph and Juliet, the devoted roleplaying couple in Dead letter, the fat man in The Naked Supper, each a fully developed person with a different, and usually intriguing, way of achieving satisfaction.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes a sexy story with substance. Particularly if you don’t mind a little laughing and crying while reading a great book.
My own humble contribution to their theme of "love & lust" is a piece about ... well, love and lust. Here's a teaser. For the rest click here.
Okay, “love and lust” ... well, let’s take the last one first.
I’m lucky, I guess, that I don’t have a lot of sexual baggage. My parents had more than their fair share of faults … okay, a LOT more than their fair share of faults … but at least they spared me from the sexual guilt and religious shame a lot of other folks seem to have been saddled with.
Because of that lack of sexual Samsonite, I’ve always been very much in touch with my erotic identity: in short I know what I like and that’s okay with me. In many ways, especially considering the tiny corner of literature I’ve found myself working in, I’m a very simple sexual critter. Sure, I might write about queer bondage, lesbian domination, and all kinds of outrageous and outré fetishes and kinks for the straight folks, but when I turn off my versificator (look it up, it’s from Orwell’s 1984), switch off the lights, and head home, it’s to simple and sweet sexual fun.
Not that I’m dull, you understand. It’s just that compared to my writing life, my nighttime antics might disappoint the two people who read my erotic stories. No whips, no chains, no safe words, no leather, no latex, no appliances, no lingerie (at least not for me), no feathers, no personas, no spikes, no pudding … no kidding.
Sure, I have a few interesting quirks. Part of the reason I think I sympathize so much with queer life is that while I’m comfortably heterosexual, the object of my desire is not exactly common.