REVIEW SUMMARY: A collection of well-written erotic science fiction short stories.
MY RATING: See the text below.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 10 erotic science fiction short stories written by Polly Frost.
PROS: An interesting collection of stories that makes fun of science fiction tropes occasionally but also contains some interesting ideas. Most of the stories involve a last-minute twist (ironic or otherwise) that I enjoy most in short fiction.
CONS: Some stories are just strange as opposed to interesting.
BOTTOM LINE: If you find erotic fiction to be your cup of tea, I think you’ll enjoy this collection of stories that Polly has written.
Because I’m not sure how sensitive our readers are to this sort of thing, I’m putting the rest of my review and an analysis of each of the stories after the jump. Read on if you dare!
I think you have to be careful when reviewing erotic fiction because it certainly isn’t for everybody. Because of that, I decided my regular review criteria didn’t apply. If you like the genre, you’re going to find this a pretty darn good collection of short stories. But if you don’t, you shouldn’t read it at all.
Of the ten stories, only 2 (“The Orifice” and “Imagine It”) I didn’t like. However this becomes more complex the more I think about it. Did I dislike the stories because they were poorly written? No – Polly can write and even these stories had good pacing, dialog, and characterization. Instead the things I didn’t like were related to the plot and the strangeness of the situations. Is this a result of my own inhibitions or repressed desires? Maybe. Or maybe they would appeal more to others? I’ll have to wait for other reviewers to see.
According to the author’s forward, Polly revised the stories and prose through review at live readings in New York City. I suspect that shows up in the final work. Having gone through a trial by fire – live audiences are the most unpredictable and most difficult to impress – the text is succinct and focused. However sometimes I wonder if the humor didn’t play a little bit better with a live audience than it does in text – if only because the lines can be delivered with a tone of voice that conveys better the authors intent.
But to paraphrase a wiser man, when it comes to good erotic fiction, I know it when I see it. This is certainly quality work.
“The Threshold” is a story about a virgin high school girl named Cameron. She is teased mercilessly by her friends for her virginity and finally decides to get it over with. But there is a new girl in town who places an unusual value on Cameron’s virginity. The ending is scarier than I would have thought and as the first story in the book it set the stage well for the stories to follow.
“The Orifice” is a story about a pair of young lovers obsessed with piercings. They get more than they bargained for in a special piercing shop though and … well, you’ll just have to read the story. This is one of the stories that didn’t work for me. I found the ending to be flat rather than the high impact I think Polly wanted. I also wonder if this is one of those stories that was very powerful in a live performance but didn’t translate to text as well. I don’t know much about the piercing culture and as a result it might have gone over my head.
“The Dominatrix has a Career Crisis” gives us Katie, a working dominatrix who finds her job boring. Punishing people no longer has the thrill it did and instead she finds herself drawn to a humiliating scene from high school between her and a teacher. Once she finds him, will the teacher submit to Katie or will he be the one with the power? I enjoyed this story quite a bit because the premise was very cool and the plot took some unexpected turns.
“The Pleasure Invaders” is a story I find strangely familiar – could this be a universal fantasy or was it just me? In any case, this tale tells us about an alien species that through its link to our subconscious is able to determine our every desire and fulfill it instantly. But of course this is wildly addicting to humans the impact on the city of Miami (where the aliens are first introduced) is immediate – the aliens are more valuable than any drug. The ending took a somewhat predictable turn but I felt the story was making fun of sci-fi stereotypes more than it was copying them.
“Viagra Babies” is what you think it is. Viagra has more side-effects than we thought – including producing children who die at a young age and have to be restrained from their over-amped physical impulses by drugs. This is more horror than sci-fi but I still enjoyed it. The ending was predictable but satisfying.
“Imagine It” describes an author with a fantasy that seems a bit too real to be imagined. The story is dark but the ending didn’t work for me.
“Playing Karen Devere” is written almost like a screenplay. A young actress and her producer girlfriend find the perfect serial killer to make a movie about. But is the price the killer demands more than they can afford to pay? I liked this story quite a bit. In a way it reminded me of the David Cronenberg film Videodrome.
“Test Drive” is set 60 years into the future when technology has advanced and continued to be utilized for satisfying people’s desires. Blake is a woman who works in a small business catering to these needs. But in the quest for more advanced technology have we given something up? This is a totally original tale with plenty of very interesting ideas and a great ending. I thought this was going to be the best story in the book until I read the last story.
“Visions of Ecstasy” is about a female psychic who reads the future and sees the apparent death of a young woman. In her attempt to save the woman, the psychic ends up the victim. I liked the premise and execution of this story, but the ending – which I think was supposed to be funny – was flat. I bet if I saw this performed live I would laugh out loud, but for some reason it didn’t work as well in print.
In “Deep Inside” the narrator and her girlfriend have a business making voodoo dolls of the most carnal sort and selling them at a premium. But will they pay a price or delving into dark magic? Polly saved the best story for last. I enjoyed everything about this tale – the setup, the way the tension was built, and finally the surprise ending.