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!