Aug 202018
 

Amazon’s Pledge is a series by Sarah Hawkes that takes place in a magical fantasy world.  Jorem is a sorcerer fleeing from a country that hunts, castrates and murders sorcerers. He runs into Kaseya, a really hot Amazon warrior woman with a wounded friend. Kaseya offers to pledge her life and body to Jorem in exchange for healing her friend. Jorem, being a nice guy, heals the friend and says don’t worry about the pledge. Kaseya informs him that she already made the vow and is now his sex submissive. In Kaseya’s culture, they believe sorcerers will go mad with magic and power unless they take out their urges on hot willing women, a job Kaseya had trained all her life for.

Now, if you think this whole Amazon bodyguard/sex submissive business is a bit over the top, then rest assure that ninety-five percent of the characters in this story agree with you. It is a common running theme of everyone snarking on Jorem for what looks like a regressive relationship. Hell, Jorem agrees with you. It doesn’t stop Jorem from fucking Kaseya though, especially since the empathic bond created by the magic collar/ring combination lets him know how much she craves his rough touch. Kaseya is a willing participant in all this and there could be an argument to be made that she manipulated Jorem into starting this bond.

But honesty, the sex bond is a side part of the story. The real story is about Jorem and Kaseya trying to survive in a new unfamiliar country while Jorem’s enemies from the previous country continue to hunt them. There is quite a bit of action scenes, intrigue and mystery as well as plenty of complications.  If this was a non-sex book, I’d still read it because the writer is just that good. The fact that there is plenty of submissive rough sex is almost a bonus.

I have read the first three books in the series and enjoyed them a lot. A third character joins the duo and they become a lovely, if chaotic, polyamory threesome.

Aug 132018
 

I am a huge fan of Kim Newman dating back to when I was a teenager and he wrote Drachenfels under the name of Jack Yeovil. I am also a huge fan of his Anno Dracula series which puts just about every vampire in popular ficiton together in the same universe. I had heard of his Diogenes Club series but it is only in the past few years that it was collected for American audiences. It was worth the wait.

The Man From the Diogenes Club is a collection of Newman’s short stories about a very neglected branch of the British secret service that deals with magical/alien/whatever-the-fuck-this-thing-is threats that normal government can not handle. They focus on one agent, Richard Jepsen, who’s eccentric wardrobe could give Dr. Who a run for his money. Jepsen has some psychic powers which aid him but his real power is his willingness to do anything to save Queen, country and the world.

The stories range from the 1970’s to modern day, which lets the reader see how the agency and Richard change over the years. Since these stories are written recently, they take a take a non-nostalgic look at this ease earlier times that i really enjoyed. The mysteries are genuinely intriguing even to my jaded supernatural-investigations experience. Jepsen picks up two companions, which gives the stories another Dr. Who similarity although maybe the Avengers would be a better comparison. It is hard for me a to pick a favorite story although the one about the genius mastermind from another timeline being brought to life in our one timeline might win out. But then again, the story about the magicians trying to stop the moon landing still lingers in my mind . . .

if you are the kind of person that wishes the BBC had another series about someone investigating weird shit but without the emotional trauma of your average Torchwood episode, then this book is for you.

Aug 062018
 

Speaking of good erotica set in the apocalypse, I would be remiss in not mentioning Maxine of the Wasteland by Callista Hawkes. Hawkes writes a lot of great interactive fiction and this traditional novel is pretty great too.

The heroine, Maxine, comes across a man dying in the dessert. His heart rate drops dangerously low so to save this stranger’s life, she blows him. I’m no doctor, but the movie, Crank, taught me this is a legit way to keep a man’s heart rate up.  This just the first of many encounters in the wasteland that involves guns, cars, bartering, bandits and lots and lots of sex.

I liked this book a lot and it scratched that Mad Max With Porn itch that is so rare in erotica.

Jul 302018
 

I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time finding good erotica set in a post-apocalyptic world. There are tons of books set in fantasy worlds and science fiction, but rarely do I find a good old-fashioned apocalypse and when I do, nine times out of ten, magic has come back to the world and for me, that is not the apocalypse I am looking for. I want stuff like the Fallout game, or even the Walking Dead series.  I want Mad Max with more leather. I want naked raiders and scavenged dildos.

Roc Bronco and Slut Puppy After the Apocalypse is that kind of book. Written by the talented Y. Falstaff, it features a world where an undefined apocalypse turned everything to shit and the world before belongs to a previous generation. All the tropes are here from bartering for supplies, to biker gangs to mutants to the dog-eat-dog mentality of survivors. Life is harsh and no one can be trusted. It is pretty bleak, which makes it pretty awesome.

The main character, Roc, is a drifter and badass. He has his own moral code but he will gut you in a second if he thinks you are a threat. You know this character because he is a sterling example of the kind of hero that populates these stories. We get a lot of insight into how he thinks that I found interesting but other than that, Roc is a little on the dull side. That kind of makes him a perfect anti-hero.

Slut Puppy is the interesting one. She is a nymphomaniac who believes she has powers from a demoness. Slut Puppy is always down to fuck and although a little unhinged from reality, she is by no means stupid. It takes her awhile to appear in the story but once she does, she steals the show. I am not ashamed to admit that I fell hard for her as a character.

Being a Falstaff book, the story takes many unexpected turns and constantly throws curve balls. That kind of unpredictability is a huge plus.  The story also takes its time to get to the sex. Other writers, myself included, have a rhythm of introduce a character, have sex, move the plot, have sex, introduce a new character, have sex, etc. Falstaff spaces the sex scenes out so that by the time you finally get to see a character get fucked, it feels special.

My only real criticism is that the plot takes a really dark turn around the 80-90% mark. The dark turn might be too much for some people, and it certainly was a buzz killer for me, but the ending stuck the landing and I was left in a happy place.  I have never seen a turn that dark in Falstaff’s other books, so I can only assume this one was because of the grim setting.

All in all, if you like apocalypse erotica, this is a pretty good one. I suggest you give it a try.

Jul 182018
 

I have been on a weird fiction kick lately. Weird fiction rarely gives answers and is more interested in creating a hazy environment where your imagination infers what the fuck is going on. The best weird fiction reads like a constant state of confusion.

Black Helicopters by Caitlin R. Kiernan fits that description. It is a story about secret government agencies that are trying to protect the earth from cosmic forces. That would almost be a bland topic decades after the X-Files but Kiernan kicks everything into overdrive. The monsters are truly inhuman and disturbing, the characters are such broken messes that Agent Mulder looks like a stable Mr. Rogers and the government agencies are just as wicked and incomprehensible as the cosmic monsters they fight.

It is a challenging book to read and I mean that in a good way. The story tracks across multiple timelines and for the love of Nyarlathotep, pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter. Each character is a damn mystery and at no point do you get a handy roster list to check. The plot seems wildly unconnected to the point that I wondered if it was being obscure for the sake of being obscure but then it begins to tie all together into a beautiful well-planned masterpiece.

It truly is a great dark book of weird fiction. There is another book with some of the same characters, “Agents of Dreamland”, but it is unnecessary to enjoy this one.

Jul 092018
 

Jack the Ripper bores me. Maybe it is pure over exposure. The first time travel movie I remember involved H.G. Wells tracking down jack the Ripper in the 1970’s. The Ripper, or an explanation, has appeared in a lot of occult fantasy shows and quite a few science fiction ones. There are dozens of short stories that speculate the Ripper is everything from an alien, to a Royal Family member to your mom. Okay, probably not your mom and I would read that one, but you get my point.

I think a big part of the reason I am bored with the Ripper is that he was one sick bastard. He cut up women in gruesome ways. There is debate on how many of the Ripper murders were actually done by him. He is never caught and we are in doubt over whether the most likely letter that was sent to the press is even by him. He is a shadow without personality.

These are the reason I haven’t read Alan Moore’s From hell until a few weeks ago. I love Moore and have read 90% of his work but From Hell never tempted me.  It is a giant ass book and that seems like too long of a time to spend with one of History’s least interesting monsters.

Thankfully, From Hell is about a lot more than Jack the Ripper. Oh, there is a Ripper, and he is fleshed out with motives and some explanations for his sick ways, but it is not about him. From Hell is about London. It is about the kind of place where five women can be murdered so easily because of their poverty and the way society treats sex workers. It is about the kind of society that makes the Ripper into a celebrity in his lifetime and forever more. It is an examination of the people that spawn a Ripper and makes it possible for him to kill.

That is not to say that the Ripper himself is not interesting. He is a Freemason doctor called upon to murder four women because of Royal intrigue, but he takes it upon himself to act out a magical ritual designed to oppress women and stop irrational female instincts from ruining his ideal patriarchal society. There is an entire chapter on the magical architecture of London that was a delight to read. This ritual of his gets out of control and he starts to see the future. These future glimpses unnerve the Ripper as he realizes that everything he does has been futile.

That was a nice touch and what really cinched the book for me. I have always been annoyed that the real Jack the Ripper never paid for his crimes that we know of. This fictional Ripper is locked away by the Freemasons and dies in an asylum, but he also suffers the full horror of knowing that he has failed. After so many pages of this monster and his deeds, it was cathartic to see him realize the depths of his failures.

I found the appendices that Moore wrote afterwards to be equally interesting. He shows his work and his research for his plot. Moore readily admits that his Ripper is based on a discredited theory but he didn’t care. Who the Ripper was is not nearly as important as what kind of scar it left on our society and folklore.

so if you are like me and you are bored with the Ripper, I still recommend giving From Hell a read. In fact, I feel like it is the only Jack the Ripper story you will ever need.

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.