Jun 252018
 

So last week I raved about Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer and since that time and now, I bought and devoured the rest of the books in the series, Authority and Acceptance. When I read the first book, I was concerned that the deep dive into a single character’s mind couldn’t be reproduced successfully and I am happy to report that I was wrong. These two books are just as good and fit very nicely with the first book.

If you don’t want spoilers, then stop reading now.

As someone who reads a lot of series and is used to massive franchises, I fully expected the Annihilation sequel to follow the same route as so many sequels. The book would either strip out the psychologist bits and present a move evidence based book. The characters would go in just as blind as the reader was of the first book, encounter much of the same thing and perhaps react differently to it. This is how every Alien movie runs as well as every slasher movies. Sequels do their best to try to recreate the magic by repeating the same magic tricks. The reader gets a smug satisfaction of knowing more than the characters while seeing variations of much of the same.

Instead, Authority treats us to the view of a new person brought in to run the mysterious agency that sends these doomed missions to Area X. We get a dive into the new Director’s mind but we also get a very large overview of everything the Agency knows or doesn’t know. The dive inside the new Director is just as deep as it was with the biologist and he is just as terribly flawed in his own way. The same level of intimacy is achieved with the Director as we received with the biologist in the first book. It is an amazing feat to pull off twice.

The director isn’t the only thing we examine in detail as we get to see the tragically flawed agency that literally learns less with every expedition.  We meet scientists who don’t have a clue and the administrators engaging in their personal feuds and breakdowns. the Agency is just as broken as the biologist and the new director, and maybe more so. the biologist at least wants to gain knowledge while the Agency is too self-destructive to really achieve anything. That doesn’t stop them from sending people into the meat grinder of Area X, though.

What is excited for me is that unlike most sequels that plays the same odd things over and over like a highlight reel, this book adds new mysteries and weirdness. The reader is given a lot more information and yet still Area X remains an enigma. It is the rare sequel that works hard to not repeat itself and this feels more like part two of an investigation rather than a regurgitation of the facts so far.

Acceptance expands even further. We get the viewpoints of several characters, both in the past and the present. People thought as villains, like the old director, are given a chance to show their point of view and their actions become understandable if not sympathetic. We are given a look at the lighthouse keeper, a character so central to the mystery but until now was just a photograph. We see the fate of some characters like the biologist and the new director. Hell, we even get an explanation for what the fuck is going on in Area X.

It is a paradox of a book that gives us almost every anwser you could want while at the same time maintaining a lot of the mystery even after you have the answers. We know the Seance and Science Brigade caused the event but we don’t know how. We know what the intelligence in Area X is trying to do but the means and how is beyond us. Lowry, the bastard of the second and third book, sabotaged so much of what the Agency was trying to do but he might have somehow been manipulated by Area X all along.

Each character’s story is a mini-novel that will linger on my mind for quite a while: The lighthouse keeper’s brush with alien intelligence.  The old director’s personal quest to find her mother and old friend. The copy of the biologist trying to reconcile what is a part of her and what belongs to the person she duplicated. It is like having three great books in one.

The ending is ambiguous but you know, that’s okay.  After telling the reader so much, the book is allowed to keep a few secrets.

 

Jun 152018
 

“I Roved Out” by Alexis Flower is a webcomic about the incredibly filthy adventures of Cotton, a buxom half-elf and her best friend, Maeryll, the sexy snow elf. A great artifact has fallen to the ground and every major power desperately wants to grab hold of it. Cotton spends a lot of her time avoiding getting coerced into this quest. In the meantime, she and Maeryll have lots of graphic sex with anything that moves. This story was recently collected into a book that was made possible by Kickstarter.

This is easily my favorite sex comic in a very long time. Each page is a work of art. I don’t know what the medium is, but it looks like loving painted pages out of Heavy Metal when they had the good stuff.  I mean, just look at this stuff. It is crazy good.

The story is great too. There are some transitions that leave a bit confused at times but I work it out after a few pages. Over all, it is a rather sexual fantasy world where just about anything is down to fuck. It reminds me a lot of Oglaf in tone. Or maybe playing a tabletop role-playing game with your local kink group. There is a pretty cool serious plot with the artifact that has fallen to the planet, but mostly the story is about Cotton fucking anything to get her out of having to do this quest.

There is a lot of hetero sex, plenty of lesbian sex, quite a bit of monster sex and the occasional gay sex. It is the rare sex book that made me laugh out loud several times. I physically felt pain when I came to the end of the book as I wanted it to go on forever.

Speaking of forever, the hardback version is huge and lovely. At 300 fully illustrated pages, it feels like an epic sex trilogy. It took me a week to go through it and I had a smile on my face the entire time.

The best compliment I can think of is that this is the kind of book I would want to write/draw if I could draw. If you like any of books, I don’t see how you couldn’t love this one.

You can read the webcomic here, or treat yourself and buy the book here.

Jan 082018
 

Sometime in the mid 80’s, the Russians nuked America and the United States never recovered. Everything is  a wasteland and if the raiders, radiation and mutants don’t kill you, then the strange mass-murderers called Slashers will. Luckily for the damned folk of the Wasteland, they have a telvision show to look forward to, “Try Not To Die!” In this show, wastelanders fight for their lives in a trapped maze while the show producers send Slasher after Slasher after them.

What do the winners get? Nothing because there are no winners. This is all about seeing how fast and nasty the Slashers kill the players.

That is the premise for Slashvivor, a fast brutal book by Stephan Kozeniewski and Stevie Kopas. Likable survivor, Dawn Churchill, is kidnapped and thrown into the game. Like all great protagonists, she lasts longer than she should and brings chaos to event. Stranger and stranger Slashers are released from captivity to try to stop her.

I’m a sucker for fiction about gameshows and the apocalypse so this hit my buttons. I also like Slashers and thought this book did a great job in creating some interesting killers. I could have done without the well-Educated Cannibal but I have come to accept that there is no escaping that type in slasher fiction.

The heroine is okay but quickly upstaged by the bizarre cast of Slashers out to get her. It is a nice long read, which is almost a rarity in this kind of gonzo genre. In this post-Blood Drive world, it was a fun and gory read.

 

Nov 032017
 

Gambling is one of those things I love to study but never participate in. I have compulsive tendencies and I understand fully how screwed I would be if I ever gambled. I admire gambling from afar and my two biggest unrequited crushes are Poker and Las Vegas. Tim Power’s 1996 epic, Last Call, deals with both subjects, throws in the Tarot, and then adds a cast of insane characters who are actually quite normal by Las Vegas standards.

The main character, Scott, has a really bad father who has assumed the role of the Fisher King of Las Vegas by killing the former magical Fisher King, Bugsy Siegel. Scott escapes his father at a young age, gets raised by a wonderful superstitious gambler, and then fucks up his life to the point that the only thing that can save him is confronting his father who is going to forcefully possess Scott’s body next Easter anyway if Scott does nothing. Along the way, Scott finds out that the Tarot is alive in every deck of cards, that multiple people want to be the Fisher King and Scott could be of use to them, and that his long lost foster sister might be the living incarnation of the Moon card.

This is a book where every other character knows just enough magic to get in trouble. This is a book where the cards of an ordinary playing deck can be terrifying. This is a book where Vegas is both a magical wonderland and a horrific haunted city.

Ultimately, this is a book about desperateness and schemes which I think is the intersection of magic and gambling. Both hobbies can be destructive and both hobbies are equally filled with people who claim to be the masters of the hobby but are often the biggest victims. As much as this book makes magic and gambling out to be wonderful, it also works hard to remind you that magic and gambling are fickle as fuck and will ruin you.

I love this book but my only warning to readers is that this is a book that never fully explains the rules of what is happening. If you need concrete explanations, prepare to be lost for most of this book. Much like a real casino, this book keeps a lot of things in the background to make sure you the reader never understand how stacked the odds really are.

Oct 312017
 

We end the month of Halloween with a horror novel with an irresistible title by Christine Morgan. There was no way that I wasn’t going to read something called “Spermjackers From Hell.” I am terribly jealous of this title and concept.

The book is about five dumb-asses summoning a succubus like some sort of occult version of the movie Weird Science. The succeed but instead of a Kelly LeBrock, they got something with a lot more pseudopods and way out of their league to control. Sexual terror ensues.

Keep in mind that this is a Horror book and not an Erotica or even Erotic Horror book. The shit goes down in this book is horrifying and traumatizing. It is also quite funny with believable dialogue. The author frequently breaks the fourth wall to lighten the mood as well as emphasize how fucked up this situation is. I can count one hand how many times breaking-the-fourth-wall is successfully done but this book manages to do it.

All in all, this is a gruesome book for people who like a bit more sexual content in their horror. I enjoyed it and will be looking for more this author.

Oct 252017
 

Time is the greatest test of quality. You might love something when it first comes out but the real test is if you love it ten years later. An even better test is if you love it after you have read, seen or played it a hundred times.  The best works of art get better with time and repetition.

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny is one of those books that I keep reading every year and I always find something new to delight me. It is the story of Jack the Ripper, A Vampire Count, a Mad Scientist and his Monster, a Great Detective, A Mad Monk, a Sinister Druid, a Witch, an Evil Vicar and others have come together for a great cosmic event set for Halloween night. Some want to use the event to open a gate to the Great Old Ones while others are there to close it. Who is a Closer or an Opener is never clear. The book takes part during the entire month of October and is part mystery and part Battle Royale.

Oh, and the best part is that the entire novel is told from the point of view of Jack the Ripper’s dog, Snuff. Don’t worry, he is probably the smartest character in the book and one of my favorite characters ever.

Since Roger Zelazny is writing it, the story moves along at a brisk pace. There is adventure, mystery and humor every where. There is a scene that never fails to make me knot up in tension and there are always new jokes and play on words that I didn’t catch last time.

It is worth it to seek out the hardcover edition as it includes illustrations by master artist, Gahan Wilson.

Oct 172017
 

Amanda Clover is one of, if not the best interactive erotica writer around today. She writes great stories with meaningful choices on various subjects and kinks. She has secured her place among the greats with her interactive fiction but she also writes the Princess to Pleasure Slave series where women in fantasy world settings get dominated, seduced, mind controlled and fucked silly by just about every monster you can think of. Her abundance of talent is deeply unfair to the rest of us.

Escape the Island of Eldritch Lust combines both of her talents like chocolate and peanut butter.  You play Penelope, a scribe and scholar who needs to leave her comfortable life to go rescue her monster hunting mother and sister. You travel to a dread island where a Dark God is stirring and every damn corner hides a terrible insatiable monster of some kind or another. You are not that good with a sword and pistol, but luckily you have some magic and a nerd’s love of knowledge.

This book is huge. Just getting to the island will take awhile. Once on the island, you will engage an epic adventure that would fill a campaign in a tabletop role-playing game. It took me about a week to get to the end and that was just in one play through. Looking at the outline, I see that there are three major branches I didn’t even touch on. It is a giant of a book.

Like a previous book, Dungeon of the Monster Breeder, you are often given the same five choices for monster encounters. These are Wait, Parley, Magic, Fight and Surrender. The familiarity of these choices give the book the feeling that you are playing a tabletop game. The Surrender option almost always triggers your defeat which is really nice to have when you are just curious about the worse that could happen in an encounter. It is a nice system and one that is easy for the player to pick up on.

Needless to say, this is an amazing book. If you like interactive fiction or cute girls getting dominated by monsters, then you have to own this book.

 

 

Oct 122017
 

Cherry Delight is a secret agent who works for N.Y.M.P.H.O. (The New York Mafia Prosecution and Harassment Organization) as a combination call girl/assassin. She’s a hot chick with red hair, giant boobs and a high sex drive. Her vaginal muscles are also impossible to escape. She fights the Mafia during the dangerous free sex era of the 1970’s.

You may be wondering why in the world would I recommend such a piece of dated sleaze? The anwser is that the writer, Glen Chases, is actually a pseudonym for superstar writer, Gardener F. Fox. This is the man who created and wrote many of the comic book characters of the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. He also wrote a ton of pulp books including one of my favorite Conan knock-offs, Kothar. He is a fantastic writer who knows how to keep a plot moving and he has creativity and innovation to spare, even when writing spy porn like this.

Not only was this book fun to read, but it had a few surprising qualities that set it apart from most action-porn of the era. For one thing, there wasn’t a rape scene. Sleaze of this time period always had rape scenes of one kind or another but the closest we get in this book is Cherry tricking two of her captors into having sex with her while she is at their mercy. There is also an emphasis on foreplay that surprised me as mobsters and henchmen spend a lot of time making sure women are turned on before sex scenes. Although it is technically a porn book, the action scenes are top notch and the plot was mostly believable.

Best of all, this book was a fun breezy read that I finished in a single day. Cherry Delight paperbacks can be pricey to find but if you like erotic pulp like I do, this one is worth the price. Fortunately, this book has recently been released on Kindle at a reasonable price. I hope this means they will do the entire series.

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Sep 262017
 

Lust of the Pirates is an interactive erotica story by Callista Hawkes. You are a dashing pirate Captain in the Golden Age of Piracy who forges an alliance with Tia, the dark and mysterious brothel owner, in order to find some Mayan gold. There are several steps you need to complete in order to find the treasure and being porn, all of those steps involve fucking hot women. Anne Bonny herself is part of your crew with no Calico Jack or Mary Reade to be found. There is a nice range of characters, from lusty pirates to horny wives and some more unusual types that I don’t want to spoil.

This is a rather forgiving book as it will give you a handy link back to the last bad choice you made if you come across one of the bad endings. The adventure itself has some permutations so you can reach the treasure in a few different ways, which enhances the replayability.  The sex is good and the book has a sense of humor so I was laughing out loud a few times.

If you are a fan of pirates like I am, you will enjoy this book.

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Sep 202017
 

There are a lot of erotica books set in fantasy worlds but a major problem of these books is that most of them read like someone’s very flirty Dungeons and Dragons campaigns with the serial numbers filed off. Characters have very well defined powers that came from a player’s manual while the plots are usually weak excuses for characters to bang armor pieces together.

Witch-Queen of Vixania by Morgana Baron is an entirely different book. It is inspired by the countless fantasy series of the 70’s and 80’s where you have a wicked Queen and her submissive minions but you also have the sexy plucky rebels who conspire to bring the Witch-Queen down. There is a slow gathering of heroes, there are wise teachers and there are hidden Chosen Ones. There is a nice amount of world building that fortunately never goes on too long. It is a throwback to the fantasy series of an earlier time that avoids the pitfalls of their weaker parts.

It could be an 80’s fantasy series if not for the massive amounts of sex scenes. The Queen and her evil forces engage in imaginative BDSM sex while the Hero engages in more vanilla yet still creative sex scenes. There is a lot of magic in these sex scenes and it is well used. Some fantasy porn uses magic to recreate modern pleasures like vibrators and hot tubs but this book uses magic for some really unique scenes you couldn’t have in normal porn.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I burned out on fantasy long ago but this book made me feel a bit nostalgic for the genre. This book drips with creativity and never goes for a simple sex scene. The Witch-Queen is diabolical and as a fan of Evil Queens, she is a new favorite. The Hero is not quite as interesting but fortunately there are other good guys who keep things interesting.

The only downside is that this is the first book in a series. There is a second book out there but at an average price of 95$ on the internet, it might be a awhile before I get around to it. I hope the series wraps up with the second book but I am doubtful.

Having said that, this book ends on a good note. The Hero and Queen have yet to met but the stage is set. Even if the story is never completed, you deserve to experience this book.