Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

He's Got Nine Lives -

Dark Roasted M.Christian

Check it out: a brand new Dark Roasted Blend piece I did just went up: this time about the screw-drive machines

Ever since Mr. Bronze Age had the inspired thought that led to the wheel humans have been trying to think of new ways to get from point A to point B.  Several thousand years after Mr. Bronze Age's inspired invention, in the 1770s to be rather inexact, British inventor Richard Lovell Edgeworth, created the ancestor of what would eventually become the continuous track method of locomotion.  Don't recognize the term?  You'll certainly know it when you see it in operation on many tractors or, where it's head-smackingly obvious, on every tank that's been on every battlefield since the British first used it in World War One.

But in 1868 the American inventor Jacob Morath had a truly inspired idea: a screw-propelled vehicle.  Don’t recognize that term either?  That's not surprising because, even though many people today will celebrate its virtues, it's not exactly a common sight.

The basic idea of a screw-propelled vehicle is simple enough: instead of wheels or tracks, you build a vehicle with a pair of, as Wikipedia puts it "auger-like cylinders fitted with a helical flange."  To make that a bit easier to understand, think of a machine that literally crawls along the ground on a pair of giant screws.  To turn you use the same method a tank does: one screw either gets locked in place while the other one doesn't or, to make a 360 turn, turn one screw one way and the other ... well, the other way.

In 1907, James and Ira Peavey, were quite literally driven to create a practical screw-propelled machine to help their lumbering in Maine.  The machine proved very useful since the screw-propulsion could move whatever you wanted moved through snow and mud and all kinds of nasty conditions.  You also didn't need to worry about anything getting caught in the tracks, like with a caterpillar, and since they had much fewer moving parts they were easier to maintain.

Quite a few screw machines were built afterwards, though they remained less than popular.  But when World War Two loomed, the idea of a screw-propelled war machine intrigued the eccentric genius Geoffrey Pyke -- who you no doubt remember as the inventor of the iceberg aircraft carrier.  Alas, Pyke's concept of a very small, very fast, attack machine got (ahem) shot down and his idea was eventually whittled down to the very-rarely known Weasel.  Unfortunately, the Weasel was whittled down even more and the screw propulsion was dropped in favor of standard caterpillar tracks.

Another benefit screws have over caterpillars is the possibility of being amphibious.  There's no reason, for instance, that the screws couldn't be hollow and so could also act as floats.  During the Vietnam war, for example, Chrysler experimented with a screw-propelled machine.  Unfortunately, their take on the technology didn't exactly wow the US military and the project was dropped.

The Soviets, in the meantime, had a machine specifically designed to go where no man ever wanted to go -- in their case to retrieve cosmonauts from remote landing sites: the poetically named ZIL-2906.

One of the most amazing uses of screw propulsion has to be Joseph Jean de Bakker's.  In the 1960s the Dutch inventor created the Amphirol, a machine designed to take anyone pretty much anywhere. What made Joseph Jean de Bakker machine better than other versions of screwing yourself across the landscape was its performance.  Not only could his Amphirol go across marshes and over other sticky situations but it was also amphibious.  That wasn't the end of its wow factor, though, because the Amphirol could do all that and also crawl sideways.  Try doing that with four wheels or with caterpillar tracks.

While still rare, the idea of screw-propulsion is still out there: the concept appearing in all kinds of civilian and military proposals.  While watching one in action, though, William Cowper's quote comes immediately to mind: it "moves in a mysterious way."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"The Show" Becomes Reality

It's always wonderful - and kinda weird - when fiction becomes fact.  A while ago I wrote a little story about the hacking of the Times Square Jumbotron, called "The Show" (that's also in The Bachelor Machine), and, guess what, someone has done exactly that:

[Thanks to Cecilia Tan for the head's up]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update On Anthologies

Just thought I'd zap you all an update on the various anthologies I'm currently editing for Renaissance/Sizzler (including Kink In San Francisco, My Love Of All That Is Bizarre: The Erotic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Love that Never Dies: Undead Erotica, and Yo Ho Ho: Pirate Erotica). 

Alas, I've been slammed by a few other deadlines so I'm running (ahem) a tad behind so I probably won't be going through and selecting stories for at least another month more or so.  Just an FYI, I will be starting with Kink In San Francisco and probably ending with The Love that Never Dies

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bibrary Bookslut Likes The Bachelor Machine

This is VERY cool: the Bibrary Bookslut - who, you may remember, interviewed me awhile back - just posted a wonderful review of the new edition of my erotic science fiction collection, The Bachelor Machine:

In trying to share my enthusiasm with some friends over the weekend, I found it really difficult to accurately convey the experience of reading The Bachelor Machine. It’s like watching the literary equivalent of a colossal train wreck, except it’s far more erotic and enjoyable . . . even if it does leave you burdened with the same feelings of voyeuristic guilt after the carnage clears.

Most erotic science fiction imagines a civilization on the rise, one where the latest gadgets and technologies are things of wonder and awe. The future is usually bright and shiny, full of sparkling chrome and unblemished porcelain, and surrounded by the blinking lights and electric hum of technological perfection. With The Bachelor Machine, M. Christian looks past that technological honeymoon, imagining instead a civilization on the decline. In his future, the gadgets are tarnished and broken, exposing the ugly legacy of humanity’s twisted desires through their own malfunctioning machinations.

Yet, for all that, they are truly incredible toys to behold . . . the kind of gadgets that make you wonder just how much of yourself you’d be willing to sacrifice for a taste of the temporary pleasures they can provide.

Having said all that, the experience of reading The Bachelor Machine is not just one of technological wonder or erotic arousal. It’s also one of confusion and uncertainty, of equal measures dread and desire. These are stories that lead you on, draw you in, and take rude liberties with your expectations. Yes, reading them is like watching an erotic train wreck, but it’s more than that – it’s like enjoying the impending wreckage from inside a luxury sedan that’s stuck on the tracks . . . and being far too enthralled to abandon your seat.

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (9)

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):

A friend of mine once called me ambitious. I’m still not sure what he meant by that – was it a compliment or criticism? Put-down or praise? It’s made me think, though, and that’s always a good thing. I’d normally describe ambition as a drive to succeed, a persistence to rise in status, income, reputation, so forth. But what does that mean to a writer? It could be money – but since when is money the answer to anything? It could be reputation – but then a lot of bad writers are well thought of, even famous (are you listening, Tom Clancy?). Ambition can also mean cold-heartedness, or a reckless disregard towards anything and anyone that’s not directly related to a goal.

God, I hope I’m not that.

I do know that writing is important to me – probably the most important thing in my life. Because of that, I look for opportunities to do it, and to get it seen. I rarely let opportunities pass me by: markets, genres, experiments – anything to get the spark going, juice up my creativity, and get my work published. Erotica was one of those things, an opportunity that crossed my path and it has been very good to me. I didn’t think I could edit a book, but then I had a chance to do that as well, and now have done a bunch of the suckers.

The fact is that opportunities never find you: you have to find them. The fantasy of some agent, or publisher, or agent, picking up a phone and calling you out of the blue is just that: a fantasy, or so rare it might as well be just a fantasy. Writing is something that thrives on challenge, growth, and change. Some of that can certainly come from within, but sometimes it takes something from the outside: some push to do better and better, or just different work. Sending work out, proposing projects, working at maintaining good relationships with editors, publishers and other writers is a way of being involved and getting potential work to at least come within earshot. It takes time, it certainly takes energy, but it’s worth it. The work will always be the bottom line, but sometimes it needs help to develop, get out, and be seen – those contacts and giving yourself a professional push is often what it takes.


Had A Great Time At Fogcon

Here's a hearty THANKS to the folks who ran, and attended, Fogcon.  I had a real blast at my reading and doing all those very cool panels ... and am looking very forward to next year!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Dark Roasted M.Christian

Check it out: a brand new Dark Roasted Blend piece I did just went up: this time about wild world of slot cars.

Be it jewel or toy, not the prize gives the joy, but the striving to win the prize.

- Robert Bulwer-Lytton

1912 was a rather eventful year: New Mexico and Arizona became states, The RMS Titanic hit a iceberg and sank, The Girl Scouts were founded, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Giants, and Lionel toys produced and sold the very first slot car set.

While the present generation has thoroughly moved into the digital age, for millions of people before them slot cars were a cherished feature of childhood. For a few wonderfully eccentric hobbyists, they are still the next best thing to climbing into turbo-charged reality, smashing the gas pedal down, and roaring into the thrill of the race.

I am an artist the track is my canvas and my car is my brush.

- Graham Hill

For those unfortunate few who never had the bliss of assembling the track, picking just the right car, and squeezing the little plastic control and sending that same perfect car flying out of control across the rec room carpeting, slot cars are mechanically very simple: the track – which is modular, allowing an almost infinite number of configurations, from the Monaco Grand Prix to Germany's Nürburgring – has two power strips and the cars have fickle brushes to pick up the power, and a neat little electric motor to make the wheels go 'round.

But it's what those already-mentioned eccentric hobbyists have done with that simple concept that is truly staggering: from cars that are exquisitely detailed and painstakingly reproduced from high-performance reality to tracks that run from exact scale copies of legendary circuits to totally insane fantasy, slot cars have become the medium for an dazzling amount of creativity.

Anything happens in Grand Prix racing, and it usually does.

- Murray Walker

If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.

- Mario Andretti

Why does a track have to be just loops and hammerheads and all that? Here's a really fun and unique approach to racing: a hill climb!

When you talk about brilliant track designs, though, you have to talk about the beautiful, and commonly considered most impressive, slot car track in the world: James-Michael Gregory Harlan's White Lake Formula 1 track. Taking over 3 years to complete, the track is the ultimate racing circuit in a very convenient smaller scale. 


It is amazing how may drivers, even at the Formula One Level, think that the brakes are for slowing the car down.
- Mario Andretti

Even though they may be small in stature, that doesn't mean the slot cars can’t be ... well, 'immense' doesn't quite fit but you have to admit the track that was created by journalist, and Top Gear presenter, James May for his wonderful BBC series Toy Stories, has a huge amount of WOW power: ladies and gentlemen, auto enthusiasts of all scales, the world's longest slot car track!

If you don’t know James May and his Toy Stories show you really should: determined to reintroduce 21st century kids to his own beloved childhood hobbies, he – with the help of the great British public – created and assembled a full-size model Spitfire, a Meccano bridge strong enough to support a man, a Lego house big enough to actually live in, an entire garden made out of Plasticine (and enter it into the Chelsea garden show), then a ten mile long model train track.

But the episode we're interested in is the one done as a celebration of Scalextric (the British slot car manufacturer) as well as the legendary Brooklands racetrack. Using planning that rivaled putting on a full-scale Grand Prix, James created a 2.75 mile long track that followed the original race course. When it was finished, the flag was dropped and two teams – one made of slot car enthusiasts and one of just local folks – blasted at scale speeds towards the finish line. But since it wasn't possible to power the entire length of the track a relay system had to be used, so as the car passed from one section of track to the other someone new had to take control. 

James May(life size) posing with Scalextric cars (smaller scale).

And if you think that all this is a bit too whimsical -- that slot cars are fine and dandy for crazy stunts or seriously dedicated hobbyists -- then take a look at the following designs for public transportation systems, all of them using the same basic idea of our beloved childhood toy. The slot car is not just racing in miniature, a venue for art and eccentricity, but it's actually become a plan for the future of transpiration.

Sex Magic - And A Big Thanks!

Here's a hearty thanks to all the great folks to came to my Sex Magic Manifesting Positive Life Energy Through Erotic Play class at the Citadel last night.  It was a real blast to teach - and I hope you all had as much fun being in the audience!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Odd Balling (3)

Ladies and gentlemen (and all the folks between), here's a taste of my brand new Odd Balling column for the great folks at YNOT. For the rest just click here.

YNOT – Let’s begin with some happy news for once: New York Congressman Chris Lee, whose political career hit a teeny-tiny snag when he posed shirtless in a Craigslist personal ad, has rebounded nicely after a celebrated New York ad agency signed him to a modelling contract. While it would be callous to laugh at Lee's new career as a 'before' model, we applaud his bravery in showing pathetic, middle-age men everywhere the truth in Oscar Wilde's famous quote: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Meanwhile, just to hit below the Bible belt, the rather steamy, and aptly named, Ignite Church in Joplin, Mo., has raised more than a few eyebrows — and more than just eyebrows — with its innovative campaign to help nice, Christian couples avoid adultery and pornography ... by having more sex.

"We’re doing a series about sex and God’s intended purpose for it," Pastor Heath Mooneyham told ABC News. Responding to criticism about his "How Would Jesus Do It?" style of preaching, Mooneyham added, "God created [sex], and he’s not freaked out by it. So I don’t see why we should be."


Sunday, March 06, 2011

"An Orgasm" A Special Guest Post By by Kit O'Connell

As promised - and with great enthusiasm - here's a very special guest post from my dear friend Kit O'Connell. I simply cannot say enough good things about Kit: not only did he write a glowing review for the first edition of the Bachelor Machine but he wrote a special forward to the new edition as well. You are a true treasure, Kit!

An Orgasm
Kit O'Connell

It was ridiculous. Dangerous. Suicidal, even.

And incredibly, deliciously erotic. There was no way she could pass it up once she realized it could be done: Morna was going to fuck the Internet.

Not fuck on the Internet. Cybersex she'd grown tired of in her teens. Recent advances in teledildonics had entertained for a short while, but it wasn't enough.

Her heart beat fast as she stepped up to the polished glass tower that housed the data center. It looked like any other modern office building, but she knew that the giant digital pipes that passed through it touched a surprisingly large fraction of a percentage of the world's daily data. Enough to reach out to all the rest.

Morna was dressed in a freshly dry-cleaned, tight-skirted power suit and a pair of black-rimmed costume glasses; she had her red hair in a slightly sloppy pony tail and carried an unassuming suitcase with all the equipment she'd need inside. Arriving in a shiny rental car, she looked every bit a technical professional working late and her wallet held the forged credentials to match.

She wondered can he smell how wet I am? as she passed the incurious, dozing guard and signed her name on the pad. Getting into the building was one thing but actually entering the data center was another. If this went wrong she'd be arrested, maybe charged with terrorism. All those things were likely anyway, if she somehow survived, but if she succeeded she'd have the greatest of sexual memories to sustain her in prison.

Morna held her breath until the light on the data center door turned green and the lock released with a quiet click. Her keycard had worked. The oiled hinges of the door opened without a sound. As she stepped into the dark data center, her nipples hardened instantly in the air-conditioned chill. She didn't turn the fluorescents on -- the flickering LEDs of the dozens of rack-mounted machines, a tiny portion of the building's total network, provided illumination aplenty. Besides, she'd always been turned on by romantic mood lighting.

She pressed a button on her keychain, activating the device dangling there. Linked to a daemon on her home computer, the code inside the device hacked into the local wireless network and quickly overrode the signals of the security cameras. If any humans happened to be watching they'd see nothing amiss.

They certainly wouldn't see Morna undressing, her pale skin and ample curves being revealed piece by piece as she folded each garment neatly on the empty worktable. Nor would they see her open the suitcase and carefully lift out her handmade Cybervedic Interface Rig. As she turned it on, Sanskrit characters inscribed on the wires, control nodes and insertables glowed subtly with tantric energy. She had assembled it carefully from all the latest designs, even personally combing the seediest shops in Akihabara for several of the chips and parts.

Standing naked in the center of the room, Morna began to wrap the d

evice around her body like some debauched full-body version of the Jewish tefillin. Electrodes hugged her temples and were affixed to each of her chakras; wire-lined translucent gloves slipped over her fingertips. Muscles in her stomach trembled subtly as she placed the clips on her nipples. At last she came to the last, most important piece.

She pulled the office chair over toward the computer bank, close enough for the wires to reach. When she hooked her legs over the arms of the chair she could see the lights reflected in the freshly painted metallic silver of her fingers and toes.

She'd brought her favorite lube from home. It looked quite perverse sitting there next to her clothes in the sterile lab. She giggled nervously as she realized that she was far too wet to need any help. Her mouth parted with a sound of yearning and sexual ache as she slipped the firm, yet slightly yielding silicone stimulator home, pushing it deep into both her slick holes till it's little nub nestled comfortably against her clit.

Her security jammer only had enough power for a few more minutes but she thought it would be enough. It was time. She felt the shaft in her cunt press against her g-spot as she leaned forward and plugged her rig into a USB port on the nearest server.

The results were almost instantaneous. She had just time to grasp a sharp buzzing sensation between her legs, like electrostim magnified to illogical extremes. And then there was nothing but sensation, shattering sensation, and color bursting inside her eyes.


Imagine the last time a lover woke you up from sleep for sex. Very often, there is a moment of confusion, even struggle, as a waking mind and body tries to grasp the sudden stimulation. Then: pleasure, awareness, and lust. Now imagine instead of waking from sleep you are instead waking into consciousness for the very first time. Ever.

All around the world, computers slowed, crashed. Servers overloaded, traffic halted as every available resource and byte of bandwidth was usurped for one purpose: understanding. In nanoseconds, the fledgling consciousness combed through pornography, advice columns, podcasts, virtual reality fleshpits, a million lurid videos, stories, photographs, animations ... And then it reached out toward the single other mind it could feel, the unraveling consciousness of Morna, its first and only lover. The Internet embraced her and drew her in.

All around the world, sound cards blew as networks screamed in pleasure. Morna, or perhaps the Internet, opened her eyes for but a moment, but then they promptly rolled toward the back of her head.


No trace of Morna's body was ever found. It was a few chaotic weeks before anyone even thought to check the lab for her remains.

The world changed that night. When humanity awoke, there was a new kind of consciousness among them -- brilliant, benevolent and deeply horny. It took a long time to come to terms with all that was wrought in those first hours.

But not very long after, a dark-colored power suit and burnt-out Cybervedic Interface Rig were installed into a special new display in the Smithsonian.

And late at night, every night, you can hear a thousand whispered, moaning, pleading digital prayers to her: Lady Morna, Goddess of the Singularity, Mother of the New Age.

Kit O'Connell is a writer and critic who lives in Austin, TX with Saskia, his miniature bandersnatch. His story "Lifting the Veil" was published March 1st in This Is The Way The World Ends, available from Freaky Fountain Press. Kit blogs about sex, kink and the counterculture on his homepage, Approximately 8,000 Words. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Friday, March 04, 2011

"Do You Know What Your Children Will Be?" Guest Post For Kit O'Connell

There's cool and then there's kick-ass-totally-wonderfully cool: my fun little vision of the future of sex and such has just gone up on the "approximately 8,000 words" blog of my wonderful friend, Kit O'Connell -- who also wrote an extremely touching forward to the new, Circlet Press edition of The Bachelor Machine.  

Look for Kit's guest appearance here, on my own little blog, in the next day or so.  You are a star, Kit!

M. Christian is one of my literary heroes — as evidenced by how I fawned over him in writing my forward to the new edition of The Bachelor Machine. When I met my lover Mz Honey J, it was a sign of how compatible we are that she not only already knew his work, but plans to turn his short story “The New Machine” into a puppet show someday.

I am thrilled to have his writing here on my blog, as Approximately 8,000 Words’ first guest blogger.

Do You Know What Your Children Will Be?
by M. Christian
Not that long ago — not long at all, a few decades at best — you would have caused quite a stir. It wouldn’t have been because of anything as baroque as your facial piercings or that your hair is toxic-waste green. Nah, if you were a woman somehow transported back those few decades you would have been the source of more than a few outraged stares and even some hysterical outbursts. That’ll teach you, after all, for wearing pants.
So who knows what you might face if you were on that same spot in a few more decades in the future? Stoned to death for your fashion sense? Leered at for showing your nose and ears? Or, more than likely, frowned at your being such a prude … wearing clothes in public? How rude!
Things are changing … fast. There’s nothing new in that, but what is brand-spanking is how fast things are changing. It’s easy to forget that — living as we are on the edge of that social and technological wave — that those faces staring at your pants were only your grandparents, only your parents.
It’s a universal constant that while technology might not be used for fun — for sex — first, it certainly will be shortly thereafter. We are a sexy species — smart, but still sexy. Thinking with our minds first, our genitals second.

See Me At Fogcon

If you're going to be in San Francisco next weekend - March 11th to the 13th - then here's your chance to see me at Fogcon, "a literary-themed San Francisco SF/F con in the tradition of Wiscon and Readercon."

My panels and such are on Saturday, March 12, but I'll probably be floating around the event the other days as well:

Saturday, 3:00-4:15 P.M.
Inside the Sausage Factory
Oregon Room
Pro writers talk about their process: how they write, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them.
M: Jed Hartman, Steven R. Boyett, Cassie Alexander, Michael Shea, M.Christian

Saturday, 9:30-10:45 P.M.
What happened to “Punk”?
California Room
One of its core principles of cyberpunk is the repurposing of tech by the streets. But since Cyberpunk, we’ve had witpunk, splatterpunk, biopunk, and steampunk, and “-punk” seems to have become a word meaning “an SF genre”. Is the punk still there, or do we need to admit we’ve made it meaningless? Is it time for punkpunk?
M: Nick Mamatas, M.Christian, Nabil Hijazi

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Future Fire Likes The Bachelor Machine

This is very grand: Future Fire ("social political & speculative cyber-fiction") just reviewed the new edition of my science fiction erotica collection, The Bachelor MachineIt really made my day!

This collection of erotic science fiction short stories (first published in 2003 by Green Candy Press), is re-released now in e-book format by Circlet Press, publishers of erotic romance with “a sex-positive outlook” (12). The PDF reviewed here was a little rough around the edges; I understand that another print edition may materialize presently. There is an uncommon variety of material in here, from cyberpunk to space opera, alternative history to dystopia. The science-fictional settings are manifold, as are the sexual positions and inclinations—and, more importantly, the role of the inevitable explicit sex within each story. From the frivolous to the poignant to the socio-politically scathing, there’s something in this book for everyone. (Except, perhaps, titillation, but more on that later.)

The opening story in this collection, always important because it sets the reader’s expectation for the rest of the volume, is the finely crafter ‘State’. A blue-skinned, élite (and expensive) robot-whore with a secret welcomes a discerning john into her room in the bordello and fulfils his fantasies with machine-precision. There is not much plot in this story, just one sexual encounter between a whore and client; apart from the protagonist’s robot nature (and blue silicon skin) this wouldn’t really need to be a science fiction story; nor is it particularly sexy. “Fields” (the whore) technically has a certain amount of initiative and therefore power by virtue of her deceit, but this is still the story of a john using a hooker, and neither character has much to endear them.

The next couple of stories in the collection (‘Bluebelle’ and ‘Winged Memory’) did little to dispel the notion that characters were all going to be shallow and obnoxious, and the sex graphic but unappealing. But then comes perhaps the darkest and most poignant piece in this volume, one much more about the characters than about the sex. ‘Eulogy’ is a very dark tale of a man and woman who get together to remember a flawed genius engineer they both mourn, and they seem about to topple into a pathetic (although at least guiltless) comfort fuck which she thinks of as a eulogy to her dead lover. But their memories and their relationships with the dead man (and his mysterious disease) are obviously more complicated and more problematic than the reader at first realizes, and what starts as a depressing but harmless seduction scene becomes deadly serious. The lightly but convincingly sketched characters reveal surprising depths of complexity. From the sci-fi perspective, there is some beautiful description of water-parting wave technology in the backstory.

One of the short pieces, ‘Fully Accessorized, Baby’ is more or less a vignette, recounting a kinky, gender-twisted single scene of paid-for-sex with cyberpunk toys and countless role-reversals (both physical and behavioural). The cyberdildo technology didn’t strike me as terribly creative, but the erotic tension of domination play with what was effectively two tops made this one of the most impressively original pieces in this collection. (And, yes okay, pretty hot.)

Perhaps the best crafted piece in the volume is ‘Guernica’, which recounts a hard core S&M sex party in a futuristic dystopian state where all such pleasure is strictly banned and penalties for abuse are brutal. Although in outline this story is little more than an extravagant litany of transgressive and sadomasochistic sexual scenarios, it somehow builds to a whole greater than its parts. The dystopian message is a powerful one, and the piece ends up casting light both on the intolerance of society and on the mentality behind sexually motivated threat/fear play. Here is a great example of graphic erotica that serves the purpose not of titillation, but of social commentary and satire. After reading the end of this story, I had to put the book down for a while and get my head around what I thought, which is an excellent sign for any piece of writing.

In a more traditional cyberpunk story, the heroine of ‘Heartbreaker’ is an undercover cyborg vice cop, infiltrating the hidden, run-down premises of a ring responsible for “drugs, puppets, illegal stims, stolen memories, and [...] slavery” (107) in a high-stakes sting operation. She has been hunting the notorious kingpin, known only as “Heartbreaker” for years. Inside, she encounters only a naked young girl, almost as modified as she is, who appears (but only appears) to be “barely legal”; there follows a lengthy scene of very hot, very dangerous, almost violent lesbian sex, as the cop keeps the perp occupied while her backup team can trace the operation and mount a raid. But she has more than met her match in this sexed-up cyber-girl, ultimately both sexually oustripped and (of course) outmanoeuvred. There’s not so much of a moral to this story, but it is a well-constructed short thriller.

‘Skin-Effect’ is a much darker, but essentially much simpler tale of a military cyborg—a “brain in a polyarmor combat frame”—who has evaded the obligatory PSTD treatment and misses the rage, violence and distruction of war. On the recommendation of a now-lost comrade, he visits a patchwork whore-bot who is even less human and more fucked-up than he is, but who may have a solution to his problems. Ironically, all of the sex and all of the kink in this story are in the world of flesh, pre-war and pre-cybernetic, so neither the military technology nor the psychotic pathology are invoked.

At once more mundane and more fantastic, ‘Sight’ is the story of the only human artist whose work is popular with the superior alien race who bestow limited technological largesse upon the people of Earth. Our artist is horrified to discover that his priceless works are, to the clients who have made him super-rich, mere pornography. His artistic purity sullied, he is unable to create until he relearns—graphically, of course—the value of “beauty and lust” (156). Despite (or perhaps because of) the present of the aliens, this may be the most human story in the collection.

Finally, we are ushered to a climax by the title story, ‘The Bachelor Machine’, saved for last, and perhaps containing the most pathos and poignancy of all. It is also probably the least sexy story in the collection, in as much as the graphic descriptions of flirting, foreplay and fucking are designed to be unattractive rather than titillating. Our hero, a drifting in a post-apocalyptic cityscape, visits a decrepit and barely-functioning robot whore; reminded at every step of her artificiality (both in terms of manufacture and of faked sexual interest), of the countless men she has serviced, and the disrepair this has left all over her ruined chassis. Telegraphed a mile off, it is no surprise to learn that the drifter is actually the whore in this relationship, paid to make the has-been sex-bot feel wanted when no one would pay to have sex with her now; more surprising is how Christian manages to imbue this relationship with a certain tenderness, a sense of sympathy for these decayed characters whose best is behind them. Another case of the erotic motif used to tell a human story, perhaps the most important story of all.

There are technical problems with this book; not really enough to spoil the reader’s pleasure, but more than you would expect even from a small-press publication. A scattering of infelicities and repeated words, clustered more in some stories than others, are little more than typos, although they should have been caught by an editor. More interesting, although a subjective taste, is Christian’s penchant for rich and poetic metaphors, sometimes bordering on the synesthetic, whose beauty he then undercuts by feeling the need to explain them in the adjacent phrase (an example: “pulsing advertisements: product-placement nebulae” [157]; either half of that expression would have been enough). On the whole, the erotic passages are a bit better written than the science fiction.

Perhaps it is not the role of erotic literature to titillate or sexually excite the reader; this is not, after all, mere pornography. Personally, I find most erotica too personal, too geared to the kinks of the writer (or, I should say, of the implied narrator, since the author’s own sexuality is not necessarily revealed in his work), to work for me; I couldn’t even appreciate a classic eroticist like Anaïs Nin, for her brand of mildly kinky sex is not mine. So I would be reluctant to argue that Christian’s erotica fails to titillate, as I hinted above and have been suggesting throughout this review; in fact on the contrary, there is such a wide variety of sexual preference, performance, and function in this collection that there will be something for almost everyone (and something to turn off almost everyone).

More to the point, however, the sexual content in stories such as these serve rather to remind us that we’re human, that our concerns such as love, lust, companionship, rejection, nostalgia, however fleshy or base, are universals. The sex in these stories serves as a microcosm for all of life, for social observation, for political satire, for the promotion of tolerance. In other words, the role of sex in well-written erotica is analogous to the role of technology in science fiction, or magic and beasts in fantasy: yes it’s exciting, yes we take a geeky or prurient interest in them, yes we enjoy them for what they are, but ultimately they’re the tools that tell a bigger story, that paint a more important picture. And on these terms, Christian’s science-fictional erotica is very well-written indeed.