Thursday, April 29, 2010
If you don't want to wait until the anthology comes out you can read the same story - and lots of other juicy tales - in my collection, Licks & Promises. So what are you waiting for? Buy it!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Check it out: The wonderful Writesex bunch (including Sascha Illyvich, Oceania, and Jean Marie Stine ... and me) are going to be holding a special forum/class on Defining Erotica – A Primer for Authors of All Genres for Savvywriters. First up was Sascha Illyvich (on the 26th), after Sasha is Jean Marie Stine (on the 27th), then it's Oceania (on the 28th), on the 29th it's me, on the 30st it's Thomas Roche. For more info go to the Savvyauthors site. Tune in, have fun, and learn something.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
It was really a very special thing to do and I want to really thank the great folks, the great friends, who gave me this opportunity to put my thoughts about the picture, and the man in it, out there. Thanks!
Since I try to make this, my 'professional' blog, SFW, I'm not going to post the picture but if you click here (or go over to Frequently Felt) you can not see the picture but also read the essay.
In the meantime, here's a teaser for the piece:
I know that’s me. I remember that afternoon: a house in the Sunset District of San Francisco with an intimate playroom in the basement, owned by a friend, since passed away. The woman was my wife, now ex-wife.
I remember Michael Rosen, the magnificent photographer who took the shot, saying “Open your eyes” over and over again. I remember she was almost standing on her head, laying backwards on a GYN table with her ass raised high. I remember the shot took a long time — so long my hand began to cramp. I remember the day Michael sent us a copy of his magnificent book Sexual Art with the photo published in it.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They say that pictures don’t lie. They say ‘photographic evidence.’ I don’t know why ‘they’ are, but when I look at that picture I wonder about what’s real and not real, about who that man really is.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
And here's a new, and rather special, one: a collection if my more ... shall we say 'out there' pieces, including the column I wrote for Suspect Thoughts, The View From Here, from Mindfuck books.
And this is even more special (if that's even possible): my great pal, and amazing artist, Wynn Ryder, did the cover. What do you think? I love how Wynn described it on his blog:
Must be some Monty Python influence in this one... I can imagine the hills animated, sprouting up from the ground and talking.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Writers have different dreams than ‘civilians.’ Some of them are pretty obvious: big book deals; Pulitzers, Nobels, etc; “Honey, there’s a Mr. Spielberg on the phone; ” an Oprah sticker ….
But there are other dreams: less obvious ones. One of them, a very special one, even the most hard-core, hard-case, hard-assed grizzled hack has, but will never admit: a friend.
Not just any friend, but a friend who comes from them following your trail of silly little literary breadcrumbs. Not a fan, but someone more than that: a cherished pal, a smile on your face whenever they send a message.
I’m lucky, and very grateful, for many things: my various breaks and bursts of luck in writing; my cherished, so-wonderful Sage Vivant, my brother, Sam; the support of my mother; and – yes – some fantastic friends.
One of them, Pauline, is one year older today. I don’t really want to embarrass her but let me say a few things about this truly wonderful person.
Pauline is sweet and caring, smart and funny, giving and supportive, kind and generous – a real treasure to know.
Happy Birthday, Pauline: you’re a dream come true … for a writer or just anyone lucky enough to have you in their life.
ONE ISLAND, OFF THE COAST OF SCOTLAND
ONLY ONE PREVIOUS OWNER (HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT)
It's a nice enough place, this barren dome of rock between Gairloch and Ullapool. Conveniently close to the mainland, like most of Scotland it's not without a certain bleak charm. Just the place for a Heathcliff to do some Wuthering Heights or some Shakespearian witches to stir up a bubbling pot of trouble.
But if you'd landed on its shores just 17 years ago, you would have probably had a very different opinion, one formulated just before you began to suffer something kind of like a cold (high fever, aches, trouble breathing, etc.) and then ... well, how to put it?
For most of the world post-9/11, the word has an immediate stomach punch of frightening recognition. But well before some of it was sent out in envelopes piggybacking the terror of Al-Qaeda, anthrax has been tossed around as a weapon of last resort. There's only one problem when you toss anything around: you just might drop it.
Gruinard Island wasn't an accident, but it could be argued that the testing that took place there in 1942 exceeded the British Government's wildest expectations to a frightening degree. The special breed of anthrax, Vollum 14578l, that was released there via special bombs killed the flock of test sheep within only a few days but had the side effect of leaving that Scottish hunk of rock completely uninhabitable for close to fifty years. In 1990 the island was decontaminated and today it's considered safe for man and beast, though I doubt Gruinard will become a common tourist spot.
Once again, Gruinard can't really be considered an "ooops" if the island was intentionally turned into a terrifyingly lethal spot, though that doesn't really make it any easier to think about.
But then there's the town of Sverdlovsk, as it was called back in the days of the USSR (it's now called Ekaterinburg). Lovely little spot, I'm sure, full of all kinds of restfully quiet quaintness and charm, or maybe just the heavy grayness of a typical Soviet town. On a bad day back in 1979, though, Sverdlovsk got even quieter. It was close to a biowarfare lab; one that had an accident.
What happened to Sverdlovsk wasn't known until 1992 when the KGB finally released its death grip on the info. What came to light was this: because of Soviet slippery fingers, some people died from anthrax exposure.
Sixty-eight of them to be precise.
Another scary Russian spot is Vozrozhdeniya Island in the Aral Sea. Ironically meaning "Rebirth," Vozrozhdeniya was used for extensive biowarfare testing. That is until the Soviet Union fell and researchers stationed there decided to walk off the job in 1991, leaving behind anthrax and bubonic plague containers. Bad enough, but what's chilling is that the containers weren't treated with the respect they deserved and many began to [shudder] leak. Vozrozhdeniya was cleaned up in 2002 but between 1991 and 2000, the island was simply
posted as a no-go zone. Vozrozhdeniya and Sverdlovsk are scary enough, without getting into the fact that anthrax and bubonic plague can survive for decades even i some very harsh environments, but consider this: we know about Sverdlovsk and Vozrozhdeniya. What about other places we don't know about?
The Japanese against the Chinese in World War II, Iraq versus Iran, Irag against the Kurds, the Holocaust, Germany against the allies in World War I, the Aum Shinrikyo cult against Japan, Russian troops against Chechen terrorists: all kinds of countries and groups have used chemical weapons in battle, or as an attempt at genocide, and what hasn't been used has been developed and stored as forms of chemical and biological Mutual Assured Destruction. In addition to the Russians and the British, we've also conducted more than our fair share of experiments with nasty bugs and chemicals. And although the U.S. hasn't had any accidents -- that we know of -- we've not been particularly careful with these nasties, either.
While anthrax is frightening because of its longevity and biological spread, for really scary stuff, dig into such delights as Novichok, the v-series, the g-series, and VX. Death in the animal kingdom is one thing, but if you really want to kill, leave it up to our own inventiveness: choking, nausea, salivating, urinating, defecating, gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, then comes the twitching and finally coma. Nerve gas exposure is not a fun way to go.
If reading about Vozrozhdeniya and Sverdlovsk leaves a bad taste in the mouth about the way Russia's handled its biological weapons, how about the way the U.S. has handled what could be potentially worse: until 1972 the military basically had carte blanche to dispose of nerve gas agents by dumping them into the ocean. Let's let that sink in for a moment. Nerve gas -- 32,000 tons of it. In the ocean. Not just any ocean, mind you, but in 26 dump sites off the coast of 11 states.
Bad? Hell yes, but it gets worse. "How can it get worse?" you ask. Well, how about this: we know where about about half those sites are.
But the rest, because of poor record keeping, are a mystery. Those drums are out there, right now, rusting and no doubt leaking, spilling nasty death into the sea, doing who knows what to crabs and lobsters, fish and ocean flora, and thanks to the food chain, probably even us.
I'll be putting up pages from the final periodically ... or you can read the entire thing on Wynn's Deviantart pages.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
There are rules about such things … or so we think. After all, apples don’t fall up, lions don’t have feathers, and lakes don’t explode.
Sure enough, Macintoshes don’t fall skyward, and panthera leo doesn’t have beautiful plumage.
But if you happened to be living in Cameroon you’d know all too well that lakes can, and do, explode.
Take for example the Lake Nyos in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. Part of the inactive Oku volcano chain, it’s an extremely deep, extremely high and, most importantly, very calm, very still, lake.
But it hasn’t always been so calm or still. In 1986 something very weird happened to Lake Nyos, a weirdness that unfortunately killed 3,500 head of livestock … and 1,700 people.
No jokes this time. No clumsy 50’s horror movie metaphors. What happened to the people in the three villages near that lake isn’t funny. Most of them luckily died in the sleep, but the 4,000 others who escaped the region suffered from sores, repertory problems and even paralysis. All because Lake Nyos exploded.
Before the why, here’s some more. What happened to the villages of Cha, Nyos, and Subum that time isn’t unique. The same thing happened to lake Monoun, also in Cameroon, in 1984. That time 37 people died, again not very pleasantly. What does sound like a scene from some only horror flick is the story of a truck that had been driving near the scene. Mysteriously, the truck’s engine died, and then so did the ten people who got out: suffocating within minutes of stepping down. Only two people of the dozen survived, all because they happened to be sitting on top of the truck.
The technical term for what happened to Lake Nyos and Monoun is a limnic eruption. To get one you need a few basic elements: one, a very deep volcanic lake; two, said lake has to be over a slow source of volcanic gas; and three, it has to be very, very still.
What happens is that volcanic gas, mostly carbon dioxide but nasty carbon monoxide as well, super saturates the lake. A clumsy way of thinking about it is a can of soda: shake it up like crazy and the fluid in the can, held back by pressure, doesn’t do anything.
But pull the top, or in the case of Nyos and Monoun, a small landslide or low magnitude earthquake, and all that trapped gas rushes out in an immense explosion. That’s bad enough, as there are even some theories suggesting that the subsequent lake-tsunami from the gassy blast has wiped out still more villages, but what’s worse is that those gasses trapped in the lake water are absolutely deadly.
Heavier than air, the carbon dioxide flows down from the mountain lake, suffocating anything and anyone in it’s path – which explains how those two lucky bus passengers managed to escape: they were simply above the toxic cloud.
Fortunately scientists and engineers are working on ways to stop limnic blasts. Controlled taping of the gasses, bubbling pipes to keep the water from becoming super saturated, it’s beginning to look like they might be able to keep what happened to the 1700 people of Nyos from happening again.
But what keeps other scientists awake at night is that there are more than likely lots of other lakes ready to explode, the question being … when?
Okay, so lakes can explode. But fruit doesn’t drop to the sky and feline African predators aren’t born with fluffy down, and frogs don’t pop … right?
Not if you happened to live in Germany a few years ago: for awhile there toads were doing just that. And we’re not talking a few here and there. Over 1,000 frogs were found burst and blasted in a lake that was soon stuck with the pleasant name “the death pool.”
Theories flew like parts of an exploding frog: a virus? A crazy who had a thing for dynamite and toads? A detonating mass suicide? What the hell (bang) was going (boom) on (kablam)?
The cops checked out the area and the local nut-houses but there wasn’t anyone with that very weird and very specific MO. Scientists check out the exploded remains but found no suspicious viruses, parasites, or bacteria.
They one veterinarian came up with the most likely answer: crows.
As anyone who has ever watched a crow knows they do not fit the label “bird brain.” Extremely clever and resourceful, crows are not only fast learners but they study, and learn from, other crows. What Frank Mutschmann, one clever vet, hypothesized was that it was happening was the meeting of smart crows and a frog’s natural defenses -- plus the allure of livers.
Wanting that tasty part of the toads, the crows had learned how to neatly extract it from their prey with a quick stab of their very sharp bills. In response, the toads did what they always go: puff themselves up. The problem – for the amphibians that is – is that because they now had a hole where their livers were that defense then became an explosive problem. Weasels might not literally go pop in that old kid’s song but that seems to be just what was happening to that lake of German toads in 2005.
But that still doesn’t change that Pipins don’t fall up, and lions don’t have tails like a peacock’s, right? And what about ants? They don’t explode, do they?
But they do. Ladies and Gentlemen allow me to present camponotus saundersi. Native to Malaysia, this average looking ant has a unique structure giving it an even more unique behavior when threatened.
Running the length of it’s little body are two mandibular glands full of toxins. That’s bad enough, as any critter that decides to try a bite will get a mouthful of foul-tasting, maybe even deadly, venom, but what sets this ant aside from others is what happens when it gets pushed into a corner.
By clamping down on a special set of muscles these ants can commit violent and, yes, explosive suicide: taking out any nearby threat with a hail of nasty poisons. It’s certainly a dramatic way to go but you can bet anything threatening it’s colony will get a shock it won’t soon forget.
Sure apples do not fall up and lions don’t have feathers – but what with exploding lakes, bursting toads, and suicide-bombing ants it you might want to check that your grandmother’s homemade pie doesn’t float away or that lions aren’t about to swoop down from the sky and carry you off.
Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):
Writers are professional liars: it’s our job is to tell a story so well that the audience believes it’s the truth, at least for the course of the story. The technical term, of course, is suspension of disbelief – the trick of getting the reader to put aside any doubts that what you’re saying isn’t the truth, the whole truth, so help you God.
For erotica writers that means convincing the reader that you really are a high school cheerleader named Tiffany who likes stuffed animals and gang-bangs with the football team … or that you’re a pro tennis player named Andre who has a mean backhand and can suck cock like a professional. A writer’s job is to convince, to put aside doubts … in other words to lie through their fucking teeth.
As any liar worth their salt knows, the trick to telling a good one is to mix just the right amount of truth with the bullshit. You don’t tell your mom who went to the movies rather than church: you say you had a sick friend, that your car broke down or that you had a cold. The same goes for fiction: spinning something that everyone knows is a lie (“the check is in the mail”) is flimsy, but adding the right amount of real life experience makes a story really live. Rather than Tiffany and the football players, how about a young woman who really wants to do a gangbang but doesn’t know how to break it to her boyfriend or girlfriend? We’ve all had the experience of trying to find a way to communicate our sexual fantasies to someone, so that rings true … even though our character is a total fabrication.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Case in point, my dearest pal, Billierosie, just posted this review for my science fiction erotica collection, The Bachelor Machine, on her great blog. The book, btw, is coming out in a brand nw edition very, very cool, from Circlet. Stay tuned!
It's a joy to re-read these stunning stories, but M. Christian has a lot to answer for! His Bachelor Machine zaps the reader with a selection of wildly erotic short stories, set to raise the blood pressure and increase heart failure statistics.
This is futuristic pornography. The sleaze of porn is there, combined with the mysterious worlds of galaxies never before dreamed of. M.Christian’s imagination is really, beyond belief.
The gloves are off, taboos shattered in this daring collection of futuristic fantasy erotica. If your taste in fantasy is hobbits, noble deeds and happy endings these stories are probably not for you. If you're up for a challenge, if you can run with Metropolis meets nine and a half weeks, meets dark, vintage erotica, then the Bachelor Machine will give you the fix you need. M.Christian's stories are superbly written and well crafted. Can the sensation of spinning rotation be erotic? When it comes from M.Christian’s keyboard; yes! As I read, I am constantly pushed into the giddy, whirling position of inter-galactic voyeur, leaving me shattered and spinning, helplessly, with a glorious, life threatening attack of vertigo.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
When I was first becoming familiar with the landscape of the contemporary erotica scene, I quickly learned that one of the preeminent masters of the genre was an intriguing writer and editor called M. Christian. And it was obvious why M.C. had such a status: his work was not only extraordinary in quality and originality, but also in its versatility. This was clearly a writer who went beyond the familiar challenges of writing convincingly from different genders and orientations and psychologies and walks of life, in different settings, subgenres, moods, and tones; this was a writer who seemed to take all this one step further, to thoroughly reinvent himself, as a voice, every time he picked up the pen—and with glorious results. I'm sure I'm not the first to use the word "chameleon" in describing the man's genius: yes, M. Christian is a rock star of a chameleon.
But literary brilliance in an incredible range of voices is just part of what M. Christian is about. I have also observed, and indeed repeatedly experienced firsthand, his dedication to supporting other writers. For example, he uses his Frequently Felt blog to showcase our work, generously using his time and bandwidth to curate.How typical it is of his spirit that when I invited M.C. to make an appearance here, he chose to use this opportunity, in part, to praise me. But I can't let you go without reprinting his bio, because my message here is a twofold one: M. Christian is a great guy AND M. Christian is a rock-star chameleon.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
And for all you great folks in Best S/M Erotica 3 please stay tuned for some very cool news, including a cover design and a release schedule. As with any of my projects feel free to write me at any time if you have any questions or just want to chat.