Mar 192020
 

It is ironic to me that I am pretty much over fantasy as a genre, but some of the best smut being made today is in the fantasy genre. I thought I would take a moment to highlight three good ones right now.

First up is “I Roved Out” by Alexis Flower. I raved about this last year and every drop of praise I gave it back then still holds true. It was my favorite work of smut last year and a big inspiration. The second book came out for Kickstarter backers and will hopefully be in the store soon. You can still get the first book in the store. It is a huge book, so order it now so you can get started on it.

Have I mentioned how gorgeous it is?
Why would any wizard break up with a hot purple Elf girl?

Next up is “Fertile in my Ex-Boyfriend’s Dungeon” by Amanda Clover. It is an interactive erotica series of ebooks. You play a warrior woman who dates the worse wizard and when he dumps you, he places you inside his dungeon full of horny monsters. Also locked in the dungeon are other ex’s, all trying to escape.

I thought I had talked about the first book in the series, but a quick search of my blog says otherwise. That is a terrible oversight on my part as I have enjoyed each book in this series. There are a lot of choices and usually three different types of monsters in each book. Some books even give you a partner to help explore the dungeon with.

The only warning I would give is that there are mind control elements. All of the “bad endings” involved losing your will to escape to become a knocked-up besotted sex slave to a monster.

I don’t know why short green Goblin women do it for me but I ain’t complaining.

But Shon, what if I don’t want to play a woman escaping from a dungeon of horny monsters? Well, how do you feel about playing a Prince exploring a tower full of horny monsters? That is what you do in “Monster Girl Tower: Level One” by Jay Aury. It flips the script without sacrificing any of the humor or hot sex.

In this book, the crone has gathered hot monster girls and forced them to guard each level of her dungeon. You will need to need to fight (or more likely fuck) your way through each level. That is my kind of campaign.

I haven’t read the entire book yet, but what I had read is great. Jay is a good writer of monster fiction so I have faith he can do a great series.

Mar 022020
 

Dead Astronauts is a book by Jeff VanderMeer. You may remember VanderMeer was the man who wrote the wonderful Annihilation book and series which I loved with all of my heart. As weird and fantastic as Annihilation was, Dead Astronauts takes weirdness to an astronomical new level.

The book opens with three travelers in astronaut suits hoping dimensions. Every dimension there is the City, a terrible place at the center of various ecological disasters. In the City lurks the Company, the cause of said disasters. In some dimensions, the City and/or Company are already dead. In others they are thriving. The three travelers are trying to put a stop to both for their own reasons.

The book bounces between different characters, none of which are human as we know it. One is a sentient moss. Another is a monster that lurks in ponds. The closest we get to a human character is a space traveler who has an eye that can see the future.

With each character, we get a different way of thinking and this is where the book shines. The different creatures are so alien and familiar at the same time. You won’t look at a fox the same way again, I promise you. some characters we get multiple times as they live through different versions of reality. Each is unique and fascinating.

VanderMeer does some neat tricks with how he presents characters. My favorite is the monster that lurks underwater. His text takes up the bottom quarter of a page, leaving the top 3/4 empty. It reinforces that this creature lives deep under the service. It is a simple thing, but it helps you sink into the character.

I will say, this was a super challenging book to read. I was never on the verge of quitting, but I was often close to wondering if I would ever understand it. In the end, I think I do and I wonder if I would have been able to get the underlying themes if it wasn’t so hard to read.

As tough as it was technically to understand, the more important warning I would give about this book is the sheer grim cruelty of the story. The Company is made of bad people doing bad things to living organisms. Creatures are experimented on and murdered with a callous indifference. It is a wonderful indictment of human cruelty to those we consider less than us, and that is even before we get to the story of the poor homeless woman.

So yeah, Dead Astronauts is difficult to read because of subject matter and due to trying to understand inhuman minds in multiple realities. But, if you can make the difficult journey through the void of human cruelty, you will explore one of the greatest science fiction stories told today.

Feb 032020
 

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham is a 1953 novel about an invading force from beneath the sea. Sadly, there is no actual Kraken. Well, there might be, but we never see it.

John Wyndham is better known for writing Day of the Triffids but this book is another one of his “cozy catastrophes.” A mysterious species beneath the sea makes life hard for humanity. Ships are sunk. Coastal towns are depleted of their population. Bad shit goes down and the world nearly ends.

The main characters are a married couple who work for a broadcast station. They are not remotely heroes. They are the people interviewing military people, scientists and eyewitnesses. They gather together accounts and try to relay the growing danger to the rest of the world.

And this is where the book becomes really interesting and still has relevance to a modern audience. The invasion takes place over several years. At every point, scientists and military people freak out, but the government, financial leaders and pundits downplay the threat.

Monsters are sinking ships? Well, we can’t limit shipping because that would hurt the economy. The monsters are superior to us? Well, that is just unpatriotic. The end of the world is coming? Well, that would require doing something about and that would interfere with the current political agenda.

It feels like a naked allegory for global warming, but really, it could be an allegory for any global crisis. The fact the author used to work as a censor for the military gives the work another level of dread as he plausibly explains every level of resistance. The end of the world is coming and despite seeing it coming, we are unlikely to do anything.

The other cool part about the book is the alien quality of the invaders. We never actually see them. They exist at pressures that humans can’t survive at. The aliens use bizarre tactics and truly feel like a species that thinks differently. We never see the creatures, but they might be one of my favorites.

Nov 112019
 

Once upon a time, there were two futures. Each possible future was a paradise, but these futures could never coexist with the other. Each future sends time-travelling agents up and down the time stream to make the changes need to bring about their future. Let me be clear, this is a war and the only way to succeed is to make sure the other side can never exist.

Once upon a time correction, an agent on one side leaves a taunting letter for an agent on the other side. Is it a trap? Is it simply a boast? Or is it pure curiosity? Whatever the reason, talking to the enemy is forbidden and yet these two continue to exchange letters. Over time, their relationship changes and they fall in love.

That’s a cool idea, but what elevates “This is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone is the magnificent creativity and sweeping scale that is on every page. Some time travel stories impress you with their knowledge of historical details, hinging key plot points on what a specific historical figure had for breakfast on a certain day. This book treats time travel as something to be played with and used to awe and inspire. Characters visit Atlantis. They travel to bone yard temples of beings that predate human history. They witness fleets of starships crashing against one another. It is less Time Traveling History Lesson, and more like Time Space Opera.

And these two agents don’t send normal letters. No, one might write on the scales of a fish that will be eaten by a seal that they know the other agent will cut open. A letter might be written in the coded flashes of a lave burst. Each letter is an impossibility, which reinforces how special and creative this story is.

Half the book is the letters the two agents send to each other. The other half of the book is what amazing things the agents were doing when they come across a letter. It makes for a fast read and a rather breathless one. Their growing romance feels real and I was deeply invested in them.

This is a book I am looking forward to re-reading every year. I think you will too.

May 132019
 

I would argue that anything Caitlin Kiernan writes is the very best but I am biased that way. This edition collects some really fabulous stories and I enjoyed every one of them. These stories are not just horror and weird fiction. These stories will fucking haunt you.

It is hard to describe Kiernan’s fiction without referencing other genres and that is a disservice as I feel most of her work transcends the genres they are related to. Take Lovecraft for example. Kiernan writes about strange ancient horrible monsters that live under the ocean and will probably devour us all BUT, when she writes it with her paleontologist background, it feels much more vivid, real and possible than when Lovecraft does it with his purple prose. Keirnan taps into the wonder and mystery of the ocean in ways that remind me of Joseph Conrad. I am repulsed and enchanted at the same time.

It is the same with her weird fiction. The hallmark of Weird Fiction is to not explain shit about what is going on, and Kiernan does that, but she also spends a lot of time with characters trying desperately to explain the unexplainable. Her weird fiction feels like it has undergone a rigorous peer review and they still couldn’t figure that shit out. Again, it just makes her fiction feel far more vivid than others.

I can’t pick a favorite story out of this anthology. Is it the story about Unicorn dildo? The family that live at the edge of some terrible gate? Or is it the reporter trying to make sense of his lover leading a cult into a suicide walk into the ocean? I haven’t even mentioned the one that explores whatever happened to Ann Darrow and her sorrow over Kong. And how about the nightmarish story about what happens when you get caught by a Fairy Queen?

There are too many treasures here to elevate one above the other.

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Apr 012019
 
Honestly, the cat gets into more trouble

Anita is a collection of short stories by Keith Roberts. Published in 1970, these stories tell of Anita, a witch who may be a thousand years old but has the body of a young woman and the sex drive and recklessness to match. Anita lives with her Granny out in the woods but frequently comes to town to ride in the cars of handsome boys or make friends among the outcasts.

It is a lovely collection. The stories range from comedy like when Granny and Anita get a television, to really dark mood pieces like when Anita’s town friend commits suicide so Anita gets revenge on the town with a nasty curse. The stories were published in a magazine so they are self-contained with some continuity and one story is a direct sequel of another.

This book feels like a strange time capsule that shouldn’t exist. The stories remind me a lot of Vertigo comics in the 90’s and modern paranormal romances. Granny appears to be a distant relative of Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax. Anita’s encounter with a mermaid reads like someone describing a Charles Vess painting. I would not be surprised if Anita was an inspiration for any of these.

Although the original book cover suggests the book is a sex book, it really isn’t by today’s standards. Anita has a lot of casual sex but it is never explicit. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t a sensual delight at times, as the imagery is quite lush. I imagine when this book was published, the idea of a woman fucking whoever takes her fancy must have seemed like porn to mainstream audiences.

My only criticism is that sometimes the witchcraft strays into satire. Hell has a bureaucracy and there is an Infernal Controller who regulates the movement of supernatural creatures like an air traffic controller. It is a shame because mixed with these satirical elements are some really good creepy magic moments that would fit perfectly into a horror novel or a modern supernatural romance. There are quite a few bits I plan to steal for my own fiction.

My copy was published in 1970 but it was reprinted in a lovely hardcover in 1990. The hardcover has illustrations and I am tempted to get it. There is also a cheaper no-frills Kindle version available.


Feb 042019
 
The bats make a nice touch.

I have a backlog of books involving witches. I try to read books that share similar themes to whatever I am writing and when Fight in the Sex Arena went from taking six months to writing to thirteen, I ended up reading a lot of science fiction. Now I am am reading books that I barely remember buying, much less why I bought them.

The Passionate Witch by Thorne Smith is one of those books. It certainly looks salacious. I probably bought it thinking it was porn. Little did I know that it was written in 1942 by the guy best known for the Cary Grant Topper movies. Sadly, Thorne didn’t finish the book and someone else did. Like most posthumously finished books, it shows.

The story is about a putz, Mr. Wooly. He is a successful insurance and real estate mogul, a pillar of the community and an extremely dull man. Because this is the 40’s, that means he is a vegetarian, takes lots of vitamins, doesn’t drink and is completely obvious to how badly his secretary wants to marry him. His servants think he is a wimp and kind of despise him and quite frankly, I did too.

Through ridiculous circumstances, he rescues a naked woman from a burning hotel. The hotel is of a dubious reputation so when people see him coming out with a naked woman over his shoulder, every one snickers and thinks Mr. Wooly is a lot more interesting than he is.

Long story short, he ends up marrying the witch, regretting it and trying to get rid of her. The witch herself is the most interesting part of the book as she sleeps outside in the branches of a tree and curses the secretary to only be able to type backwards.

But Shon, I see it is described as “Ribald” on the cover. Is this a dirty book?

Uh, Maybe? The sex scenes happen during the asterisks in the story, which was a clever moment. There is a description of pomegranates that was a bit sexy once you understand it was talking about her breasts. A lot of people are sleeping around on their spouses. Almost every man is in a state of “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” over Mr. Wooly’s ordeal with no sympathy for him being married to a hot witch. It is certainly a comedy about adult relationships, but less explicit than an episode of Riverdale.

I do want to note that halfway through the book, the witch dies. I was pretty stunned. The last thing she did before dying was curse Wooly with the ability to hear thoughts. He finds the only way to stop the voices is by drinking. This means the last half of the book is about his drunken exploits and the hilarity that ensues until he realizes his witch’s spirit is inside his first wife’s old horse.

So, yeah. It is not what I expected, but it is a cute book if you enjoy 40’s style drinking comedy. It is also illustrated, which is a nice surprise. This book has been reprinted many times and there is in fact an ebook version on Amazon. I guess passionate witches are timeless.

Jan 142019
 

The Dictionary of Mu is a supplement for the Sorcerer role-playing game but it serves a more important function as a wonderful idea that should be in every bookshelf. I feel enriched by reading this book and I look forward to seeing what ideas it will generate for me in the future.

If you are not familiar with Sorcerer, all you need to know is that it is a rules-light game about people who summon demons. Instead of spells, equipment and resources, your character is defined by the demons they summon and the relationships they have with those demons.

Normally, Sorcerer takes place on Earth but the Dictionary of Mu takes place on Mars. It describes the blasted desert planet as a giant graveyard of races, cultures and ideas. There are tribes and countries still clinging to life but no one is really prospering, except for those bastards in Atlantis. This is a dying planet.

That is a key detail as this game defines Demons as the leftover psychic soul of the dead. A scientist dies and his soul becomes a demon, still obsessed with learning and still babbling mathematics. That would be interesting in itself but on Mars, EVERYTHING that dies becomes a demon, including races, cultures, oceans and ideas.

Picture it. An extinct animal has a demon form. You could summon the demon of the sabertooth shark, or you could summon the demon of the idea of a sabertooth shark, and then you are really in trouble. It is the difference between summoning a great white shark and summoning the concept of Jaws.

As cool as this idea is, what elevates Dictionary of Mu from cool idea to important tome is the writing. The book is an in-character artifact, written by a cursed hermit who is bound to the Demon of Words. The hermit adds his own commentary and paints a picture of what it is like to live in such a unique but dying world. It is just great writing and it makes the book a joy to read. The hermit’s scorn for oceans alone always brings a smile to my lips.

I would love to tell you about my favorite entries but I feel half the fun of the book is the discovery. You need to read about the witch-King and his Brides and Grooms for yourself. I don’t want to spoil the story of the Damsel Messiah. I leave it to you to hear the sad story of the Greys who build the pyramids of Mars.

In a place where ideas can become demons, a dictionary is a powerful tool to define and create. If you love fantasy worlds, you will get a kick out of this book. If you are looking for the coolest setting for your next rpg, this is your world. If you are fascinated by the relationship between people and words like I am, this book will give you a better understanding of why some ideas just never go away.

The Dictionary of Mu has been out of print for awhile, but is is available now for purchase again.

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Jan 092019
 

Commander Dirk Moorcock is hero to the galaxy. He stops mad scientists, seduces bad girls to become good and saves the universe on a regular basis. When the Empress gives him an experimental warp drive to go to a distant galaxy in pursuit of the pirate, Zoddom, Dirk doesn’t hesitate to save the universe again.

Okay, that is not true. He hesitates a lot but because he is a hero, he still does it. Along the way, he encounters triple-breasted warrior women, savage and lusty pirates and a heroic rebellion comprised of the old regime’s marching band. Wacky adventures and daring escapes abound!

This is an interesting book to read. On the one hand, names like Moorcock and Major Wilma Wonders suggest that this book is a silly parody. On the other hand, the plotting and excellent pace is a perfect recreation of the pulp sensibility. There is comedy all through the book but it never quite crosses over into wacky comedy like Spaceballs or a Naked Gun movie. The space opera theme helps as the most ridiculous elements feel completely normal in the outlandish setting.

You know, it reminds me of the movie, Ice Pirates. A little dirty, a little silly and always fun

The cover mentions adult adventures and sexual themes are certainly discussed but the book never gets explicit.

Passion Pirates of the Lost Galaxy is a fast read and was a lot of fun. If you want to read pulpy space opera with flirty adult fun, this book is perfect.

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Dec 172018
 

Twenty years ago, the super heroine known as Eight Wonder fought against the sinister forces of Blowjob. The battles quickly became pornographic as Blowjob seemed obsessed with stripping, arousing, binding and humiliating the heroine. Thanks to government intervention, no one ever knew how dirty these fights actually were. After a final battle, Eight Wonder disappeared, as well as her enemies.

But today in the present, Blowjob has returned to menace the world. Lucky for us, Eighth Wonder has also appeared and it looks like she hasn’t aged a day!

That’s because the modern Eighth Wonder, Clara, is the daughter of the original, Athena. Because this is a manga, Clara doesn’t know that her mom used to be a superhero. Clara has been recruited by the government to become Eighth Wonder, having no idea of the sexual tactics that Blowjob is bound to use.

Which brings Athena out of retirement. She wants to protect her daughter, but again, since this is a manga, she does it behind the scenes so her daughter will never know the sexual adventures that her mom went through.

If you couldn’t tell, “Don’t Meddle With My Daughter” is a comedy. A really weird comedy that revolves around secret identities, embarrassed nudity and villainous names that are double entendres. This story could quickly degenerate into something dark and traumatic, but the light-hearted manga style keeps the story from turning squicky.

I was pleasantly surprised by how non-misogynistic these books are.  The main villain is a woman, and the mother-daughter relationship is really strong and cute. It is a ridiculous premise designed to titillate, but it truly cares for the characters it harasses and embarrasses.  It reminds me of the series, Empowered, except with a much stronger protagonist.

I believe the series has a dozen books now, the first three are available in English and from most online book stores.


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