Saturday, April 25, 2015

We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way

copyright Melinda Gebbie
I'm not always sure which posts - or parts of posts - will be most interesting to my readers, but I suspect the image I'm starting with here will grab everyone's attention. It's not the most blissful scene in the book I'm about to discuss, but it will appeal to the robot and BDSM fetishists.

So anyway, the book in question is actually a graphic novel: Lost Girls, by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie. It's been out since 2006 and has gained huge (and totally justified) notoriety in that time, but I've only just now gotten around to reading it. I'll try to discuss it on the most superficial, porn-y-est levels first and then dig into the darker stuff. That way, you can bail out any time you decide I'm getting too deep...but I hope you'll hang on until the end.

copyright Melinda Gebbie
Lost Girls tells the story of Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as if they're real, grown women meeting up at a hotel in Austria and discussing their sexual awakenings...while simultaneously becoming more sexually inventive with each other and with the rest of the hotel staff. Alan Moore has described this book as pornography, and you really can't argue with him. There are X-rated acts in every chapter and X-rated images on almost every page. These include thing that seem intentionally designed to shock those (like me, I must confess) who bought the book with the idea that it was just particularly edgy erotica. Nope. Parts of it are erotica - and beautifully written erotica at that. I'll give you an example in just a moment. But before I go on, I need to warn you that the book also contains some truly horrible sex acts which Moore and Gebbie do not intend for you to enjoy. I'm not a serious student of Moore's work, so I could be wrong about this, but I think part of his intent in writing this story is to slap you across the face and shout, "Do you really get off on this, you sick motherfucker?" That's pretty much what he implied in an interview I read about Lost Girls. He's trying to say a lot of different things about sex and pornography here, and sometimes the messages contradict each other.

copyright Melinda Gebbie
But let's keep things light for a little while longer. For me, one of the most erotic passages in Lost Girls is Alice's journal entry about her trip to the ballet with Dorothy (Miss Gale) and Wendy (Mrs. Potter). They're watching the debut of The Rite of Spring, which was so shocking for its time that it caused a riot among the audience. But our heroines are too caught up in each other to notice much about their surroundings:

Between my pearl incisors, Miss Gale's lip was plump; the sweetest segment of a tangerine. Nobody noticed save for Mrs. Potter with her eyes upon my back, two small hot points of stifled longing and anxiety. Withdrawing from Miss Gale, I turned to smile at Mrs. Potter. When she looked surprised yet unoffended, I leaned in and kissed her neck. A gorgeous shudder left her body like some heavy soul escaping....

The audience were whooping, crying. Did that really happen? Did I lean back Mrs. Potter like a cello sloped across my lap and kiss the smoked and olive dark between her breasts while Miss Gale licked tart powder from her cheek?

I think I pressed my hand against their wetness, there beyond the footlights; think we shifted and moaned like aching continents....

copyright Melinda Gebbie
I cut that quote where I did for a reason. See, Rite of Spring portrays the ritual sacrifice of a maiden to bring in the springtime; so Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy are basically getting off in the face of death. This is the point where I start my descent into the darker aspects of Lost Girls.

The book is divided into three sections, the first dealing with the heroines' sexual awakenings, the second bringing in complications and conflict, and the third delving into some seriously sick shit. I'll give you a summary of the sections one and two first. They both include some lovely erotica, but the second section gives you a sense of impending doom.

Dorothy's sexual awakening is the happiest of the three: when the tornado strikes her farm and she thinks she's about to die, she realizes she can do whatever she wants in the time she has left. So she frigs herself into the first - and probably best ever - orgasm of her life. Then later she starts messing around with the farm hands. At first it seems she's helping them over their sexual hangups, but as the story progresses, she loses her sense of self and becomes just a sex toy for the men, not the real person she wants to be seen as.

Wendy's - and her brothers' - sexual awakening occurs when they encounter a group of homeless children whose leader is a slightly older boy named Peter. His group has no taboos whatsoever; in fact, the first time Wendy sees Peter, he's screwing his own sister. Before long he's climbed up Wendy's drainpipe to finger her in her bed while her brothers watch and wank each other off (This is one of those bits Alan Moore does not want you to condone - but the worst is yet to come, so bail out now if you need to). Later Wendy plays a very twisted game of "mother" with the other homeless boys and fantasizes about being ravished by a pedophile who spies on them.

copyright Melinda Gebbie
Alice's story is the saddest. Her first experience of sex is being raped by a friend of her father's - an experience she copes with by staring into a mirror and fantasizing that she's with herself and no one else. Later she falls in with a predatory teacher at her boarding school, and after graduation she moves in with her as a "personal assistant." In reality she becomes a "kept woman" - and an opium addict too.

Now, all this time, Europe has been edging toward the first World War. As the final section of the book begins, all the steadier-minded guests are fleeing the hotel and the rest have decided to go out with a bang - a gang bang. I'm not sure how much detail I want to give you about this section. Let's just say that if you don't get squicked out before it's over, you really are a sick motherfucker.

But everything in this section is contradictions. A character who writes pornography argues that it's fine to enjoy any story, no matter how dirty it gets, because the characters aren't real...but then he follows that up by noting that he's screwing a 13-year-old while arguing this point. This is Alan Moore getting meta and fucking with your brain like a drunk monkey. I'm sitting there reading that passage and thinking about my own MC erotica, which I always feel a little guilty about because yes, it's fantasy and I'd never approve of that stuff in real life; but I realize at heart that my fantasy involves rape. Reading that passage, I wondered whether Alan Moore was calling me out for my hypocrisy or telling me it's okay to fantasize but I have to keep fantasy and reality separate. Then I told myself that no matter what he was saying, he's not an infallible judge of human morality. And then I just got my brain all tied in knots and kept reading in the hope that everything would make sense in the end. And mostly did.

Copyright Melinda Gebbie
Again, I don't want to get too specific about details. Some of what happens in the last section is too unsettling to describe, and some of it's just spoilers. But if you've gotten this far into my post, I will say this: by telling each other their stories - and not hiding the most sordid parts - Alice, Dorothy and Wendy rescue the "Lost Girls" inside themselves. Sexual abandon allows them to shed the neuroses they'd developed about sex and become free again. That being the case, I don't think Moore is calling me out for hypocrisy. I think he's saying we find healing in turning our hangups into stories. And that pornography is good. ;-)

Now I'll hint at one more thing: this isn't just a story about sex and pornography; it's also a story about violence and war. By the end of the book, Moore has presented you with two very different worlds, and he's asked you which one you'd rather live in. Me, I'll take sex over death any day of the week.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sneak Peeks

Life has been happening to me lately, and not in a good way, so I'm a little behind on my writing. But for some reason I've been doing a lot of artwork - some on the covers you see below, and some on vanilla topics related to my other life. It's like my creativity with words is running low, but my creativity with images has increased to fill the gap.

At left is the cover for my next story, which was originally called "If Wishes Were Horses." On the advice of The One-Handed Writers Facebook group, I've changed the title to "What Happens in Decon." They also gave me lots of great tips on the cover, although I have to brag that the subliminal images in the nebula were solely my idea. ;-) You might recognize the model as Agna, whom I've featured before on this blog. She has a Deviant Art gallery that used to be just photos of her wearing latex and zentai, but that now includes some not-very-good poser art. But oh well, you can skip those images and still find plenty to enjoy in her gallery.

Now here's the in-process cover for "Dark Spaces," the anthology coming out at the end of May. I started with a grungier, less sexy picture of a gynoid that you can view here if you're so inclined. The original artist is innovari, and he does a lot of stuff with aliens and sexy robot women that I know you'll all enjoy. I encourage you to check out his gallery.

So...where to now? I'd originally hoped to publish "What Happens in Decon" at the end of April, and I still might make it. I have the whole day to work on the story, and if Life continues to happen the way it's been happening, I might have several more free days. To my beta reader/reviewer volunteers: I hope to get you the story by next weekend. I'll let you know if that changes, and no matter what happens, I'll make sure you have at least a week to pre-read the story before it goes to publication.

To everyone else, especially those who don't know about the beta reader/reviewer thing, don't forget to check out this post. You still have time to get a free copy of "What Happens in Decon" and "Dark Spaces," and you still have time to get an autographed copy of "Dark Spaces." Just read the contest rules and decide whether you want to participate.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tattling on Callidus

Are you aware that Callidus has begun production on an actual EMC short film? This isn't just a flash presentation; he's getting ready to direct a live-action short with two actresses who sound just right for the parts he's scripted.

Yes, Callidus did write the script - and if you follow his blog, you already know the kind of stuff he's capable of. But until now he's been limited in the execution of his ideas because he was working from other people's photos and videos. This time around, he'll have full control of all his material from start to finish.

Now, I have to make a confession. I have a bit of insider information on this project....Okay, well, I have more than just a bit of information; I've read the script. But despite the title of this post, I wouldn't dare spoil any of Callidus' secrets. I'll just invite you to imagine what a guy of his talents could do with a live-action film, and then I'll tell you that's exactly what he is doing. You will not be disappointed in the finished product.

Keep an eye on his blog. He's just posted a new entry on the production (the third so far), and in it he introduces you to his cast and drops more hints about the plot than I've done here. He's also happy to answer questions, so ask whatever you like, and maybe you'll get more secrets out of him!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

We have liftoff!

I'm pleased to announce that The Final Adventure of Doctor Theodore Steele and His Intrepid Assistant Franny is now live in the Kindle store. I had a great time writing it, and I think you'll have a great time reading it. It's a sendup of all those old pulp SF stories with their lantern-jawed heroes and damsel-in-distress sidekicks. This time, the villainess has decided to break out of her pulp role and play for kinky keeps. Check it out and let me know what you think. Better yet, leave a review!

As a matter of fact, in case you missed or forgot about this post, here's a reminder that you can still review one or more of my books and win an autographed copy of my upcoming "Dark Spaces" anthology.

I'm already at work on the second story of that anthology ("If Wishes Were Horses"), but for some reason my Muse is driving me to do the cover before the story itself. I don't mind. I'm having a lot of fun playing with spaceships and spiral effects. Stay tuned for more on that one.

Monday, March 23, 2015

This pertains to your interests

Here you have a nude woman made of silver with creepy black eyes, lyrics about being hollowed out inside, and even a threat to hypnotize others. Plus, the song itself is just really damn great.

And watching the video above put me in mind of the faux-latex-and-nudity in the "Immigrant Song" cover from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so here's that one for you to enjoy as well.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's countdown time to the publication of "The Final Adventure of Doctor Theodore Steele and His Intrepid Assistant Franny." With help from my contest winners (See the post just below this one for details - and join a later contest if you like), I've finalized the story; and I've just uploaded it to Amazon for pre-order.

This is another of those cases where I'm giving my blog readers a special gift. When the book goes live on March 28, it will sell for $2.99; but you can pre-order it for $0.99 here.

Here's the synopsis of the story:

Doctor Theodore Steele, the lantern-jawed hero of a thousand intergalactic adventures, is about to meet his match…in a nemesis he's beaten dozens of times before. Until now the brave hero and his sidekick have come out on top because, well, that's just the way it works. But does it have to work that way? Ursula Major has just thrown out the old rule book and written a kinky new one. In her version, the hero is vanquished, the damsel in distress isn't saved, and the villain gets the girl. It might be just crazy enough to work.

"The Final Adventure" is a send-up of your favorite old pulp science fiction stories with their blue-eyed heroes and helpless, admiring sidekicks. It includes alien life forms and heavy bondage, shiny ray guns and shinier latex, white knights in armor and bi-curious sidekicks, and a planet's worth of hypnotic spirals.

key words: hypnosis, satire, pulp fiction, lesbian, mind control, bdsm, dominatrix

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Let the contest begin!

This is it, folks: your chance to win a free copy of one, two, or three of my next three ebooks – and even to get a personally autographed copy of the last one if you put in enough effort.

Here's how the contest works.

I am looking for six people to beta read an ebook and review it on Amazon. The Amazon review is critical; you don't win a free ebook until the review goes online.

Now, I need two volunteers for each of the ebooks. To keep it easy for you, I'm making three separate blog posts below this one – one for each ebook – and I'll accept the first two volunteers in the comments section for each post. If you win, you're committing yourself to beta reading and reviewing that particular ebook – not one of the other two – and you cannot volunteer in the other threads.

However, winning in one thread means you also have the option to receive a free copy of one or both of the other two ebooks, and to win an autographed anthology. You just have to review (but not beta read) those as well. And if you review all three ebooks, you'll receive all three as separate editions and the anthology will come autographed.

How can I autograph an ebook? Easy. I'll write the autograph on a piece of blank paper, saying whatever you like – within reason. Then I'll scan the autograph and put the image on the title page of the ebook I send you. Voila: a real, digital autograph.

If you need a little more explanation, here are three different examples of how to work the contest. I'll use "If Wishes Were Horses" as my example (because it has the shortest title and I'll be typing it a lot), but the same basic process goes for the other two ebooks.
  • You start by going to the "If Wishes Were Horses" blog entry and typing in the comments section, "I commit to beta reading 'If Wishes Were Horses' and posting a review on Amazon." If you're one of the first two volunteers, I'll send you a Rich Text file to beta read. You send me back your comments in the requested time frame, and once the book goes up for sale, you post your review (Say whatever you like; I'm not trying to force you into anything). Let me know you've done so, and I'll send you your free ebook copy of "If Wishes Were Horses."
  • Now let's say you want to beta read "If Wishes Were Horses" but you also want a free copy of "The Final Adventure of Doctor Theodore Steele and His Intrepid Assistant Franny." In that case, when you volunteer to read "If Wishes Were Horses," just add a second sentence telling me you'll also commit to reviewing "The Final Adventure." Then I'll send you the Rich Text file for that one too, and I'll send you the free ebook once you post your review for that one on Amazon.
  • Finally, let's say you want the grand prize: all three ebooks, with the anthology autographed. In the same comment where you volunteer to read "If Wishes Were Horses," tell me you'll commit to reviewing all three ebooks separately for Amazon. I'll send you Rich Text versions of all three stories, and each time you post a review for one of them, I'll send you a free ebook copy of it. But only after you post all three reviews will I send you the autographed anthology.
I hope that makes sense. If you have any questions, post them under this entry. Don't post under the other entries unless you're volunteering to beta read/review that particular ebook. Incidentally, there's a bit more detail within each of those entries, so read them before you post any questions here.

Good luck!