Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Still More Philosophy

Circlet Likes The Bachelor Machine

This is very sweet!  Okay, Circlet may have published the new version of my erotic science fiction collection, The Bachelor Machine, but that still doesn't mean this rave review of the book by Gayle C. Straun isn't a real treat!

Readers of such erotic “classics” as The Life and Amours of the Beautiful, Gay and Dashing Kate Percival, the Belle of Delaware can perhaps be forgiven for imagining every representative of the genre to be a trite bildungsroman in which the narrator awakens to sexual maturity through a successive series of literally incredible erotic encounters featuring highest rate of simultaneous orgasm known to mankind. However, there has long existed another strain within the genre, perhaps best exemplified by the great Renaissance satirist and pornographer Pietro Aretino, whose Dialogues exhibit an awareness that sex is not so separate from social class and power, while at the same time expressing a deep and abiding sympathy for those who lack both.

M. Christian comes from the latter tradition of erotic storytelling, and his collection of short stories, The Bachelor Machine, marries action both hot and steamy with what the Japanese call aware, or “beautiful sadness,” all set in future worlds where the lines between man and machine, reality and illusion, necessity and desire have become blurred, forcing people to stake out their own identities. Unlike the characters in a Philip K. Dick novel, who regularly fret over what to take as “real,” M. Christian’s creations are much more at home with this ambiguity, be it the courtesan Fields in “State,” a human who dolls herself up as a robot for men who believe they are fucking something mechanical, or the eponymous “Bachelor Machine,” an old robot whore who pays human clients to come in, just so that she can feel needed once more. The author even skirts the boundaries of the consensual—but without ever indulging in tired rape fantasy—in such stories as “Bluebelle,” “Butterflie$,” and “Everything But the Smell of Lillies,” the last most notable for featuring a hooker wired so that clients can kill her and have their way with her, while she experiences everything, only to revive later and start it all over.

Imagine the stories of Anїas Nin dosed heavily with William Gibson, and you might approximate this collection by M. Christian. Sex, futurism, and narrative mix seamlessly rather than taking turns (now a bit of story, now a bit of tech, and now the sex you’ve been waiting for) as in so many erotic tales, underlying the truth that we never stop being sexual creatures, and we never stop being people of our time and place. Add to that the reality that we simply aren’t always successful, for these are the stories of both hackers and hacks, and the machinery with which they interact erases none of their humanity: the man who sells off his memories, one by one, to buy a few minutes with a favored woman, or the technophile who has his penis replaced with a state-of-the-art mechanical model but forgets to charge it before a hot date. Oh, the sex in The Bachelor Machine is amazing, to be sure, but the characters will haunt the reader’s thoughts long after they’ve passed out from orgasmic bliss.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Northwest Leather Celebration - thanks!

Thanks to all the great folks who came out to hear my Polyamory: How To Love Many And Well class at the the Northwest Leather Celebration last weekend.  It was a real treat to do - I just hope you all had as much fun as I did!

Finger's Breadth - The Final Cover!

Ta-da! Here's the final version of my new novel from the great folks at Zumaya Books: Finger's Breadth.

Here's a bit about it:
The city is terrified: a mysterious figure is haunting the streets of near-future San Francisco, drugging and amputating the fingertips of queer men. But what's worse than this horror is how it transforms the men of the city. For what's more terrifying, a horror or that it can, so easily, turn any of us into something even more horrific?

Erotic. Terrifying. Fascinating. Disturbing. Intriguing. Haunting. You have never read a book like Finger's Breadth. You will never look your fingers, or the people all around you, the same way again.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

From Pornotopia: A Look at the Golden Rivet

Here's a fun little piece I wrote a while back - and that's a part of my book of non-fiction articles and essays: Pornotopia.

Esoterica Erotica: A Look at the Golden Rivet

For as long as men have sailed the seven seas, they’d tried to keep women off their boats. It’s a sad fact, but for hundreds of years – and in the case of certain civilizations, thousands of years – water and women simply haven’t mixed.

That’s not to say that as the ships have rocked and rolled on the high seas, the crew didn’t do their own kind of rhythm magic. Women might have been banned – with extreme penalties in many cases for any attempts to break the rule – but sex and the sea have always been part of a sailor’s life.

The logic behind banning women from being sailors appears sound – for about a minute: to keep the swabbies in line, and to prevent in-fighting among those who might be getting, and might not be getting, it was thought better to keep the ships all male. In response to the obvious homosexual outlet for all that testosterone juice, many admiralties prohibited sex between crewmates – with punishments ranging from simple monetary fines to floggings.

The fact, though, was that the bigwigs with the fruit salad on their chests were hundreds or thousands of miles away, so it was usually the discretion of the Captain on whether queer sex was a good thing or a bad thing.

Some captains and ships even bent the rules considerably, and thus was born the Captain’s Wife or Daughter: a courtesan brought on board simply to service the officers of the ship. Other Captains obeyed the letter of the law, while not embracing the spirit – and thus allowing their crews to “embrace” their own smuggled-aboard women, cross-dressed as fellow swabbies.

Even pirates, who some would think would be lax when it comes to rules and regulations, were much more stern in their sharing of the sexual favours of their fellow crews. Always concerned with equality among their crews, some pirate charters went as far as requiring “stranding” on a desert or severe floggings as punishments for bringing aboard women. It’s ironic that two of the more legendary pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, were women – and who managed to escape the gallows by the singular female plea of the time: ‘We plead our bellies’ meaning they were pregnant.

Pirates, by and large, during this time treated women – particularly women captives – rather well. Part of it was wanting to stay on fairly good terms with the authorities (nothing like ravaging some women to get your ship hunted down) but also because women fetched high prices as merchandise as well as in ransom from rich fathers and husbands. A crewman guilty of harming a female captive was treated as someone who had either stolen or damaged merchandise – a very serious charge in pirate law.

While women (when they weren’t Captain, that is) were banned from ships, sailors managed to keep their sanity by keeping any number of common-law wives in a variety of ports. The system worked actually rather well, since the pirates were at the whim of the wind and available profit – and many of their wives were also the wives of other pirates, sailing on other ships. The only time there was a problem was when there was a question of seniority, such as when a husband died and his goods had to be divided among his wives – in such cases the women he was married to the longest usually won out, unless the younger one had children. Pirates, for their much-maligned reputations, were remarkably civilized.

Other pirate societies, such as the buccaneers, created a form of partnership that often included homosexual love. Matelots were a form of permanent relationship between two men that served in many ways the needs of both financial as well as emotional well-being. Many men were more protective and emotionally tied to their matelots than their own wives – going so far as to will them their lands and goods.

Early Christian missionaries – and puritans in general who sought to kill or capture pirates – often used these forms of same-sex marriage to condemn their society, though it’s telling that the fact that these men were practising homosexual love and marriage wasn’t as damaging as the rumour that was also spread that some of the gay pirates were converting to Islam – a more accepting faith (at least at the time): religious intolerance obviously being a greater motivator than simple queer sex.

In more rough-and-tumble pirate societies, such as among the famous South China Sea pirates, sex and love between men became a political force as well as a sexual one. Kidnapped as children from raided ships, the boys would often form long-lasting sexual relationships among themselves as well as their captors that later helped hold together the scattered pirate tribes.

While women were always a question, at best, or a big problem, at worst, on ship there was a long-standing tradition of sexual release in the form of the cabin boy. For many years, the position of cabin boy required duties that weren’t on the usual cook/captain/first mate’s job description. Often, however – especially for those “boys” with experience – the other requirements were pretty obvious, in other words to sexually service either the officers or the entire crew.

For those not familiar with these duties, the crew had a special tradition to “enlighten” a new cabin boy. What makes this tradition interesting is the masking they used to lure the young lad into the bowels of the ship. The story they told was of an ancient maritime tradition (presumably concurrent with keeping women off-ship), where each and every ship – when its keel was laid – was given a special, good-luck, gold rivet.

It’s taken thousands of years, but finally women are serving without a problem on ships – both civilian as well as military (well, depending on the country). But if you’re on-board and get an invitation to view the lucky golden rivet, I would still think twice – unless you’re into that kind of thing, of course.