Technorotica: Stories Shattering the Ultimate Taboo by M. Christian
Barbary Coast Editions, Renaissance E Books, 2012
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an author is that you get to invent new worlds. Sometimes those worlds strongly resemble our so-called reality; sometimes they deviate wildly. Even the most bizarre fictional world, though, needs to feel real. The reader needs to see, smell, taste, and touch the alien environment in which she finds herself. Against all logic and common sense knowledge, she needs to believe.
Pulling this off is tough, especially in genres like paranormal and science fiction, where the story by definition is set somewhere other than the world as we know it. M. Christian is a master of this trick, as he demonstrates in Technorotica, his new collection of stories concerning the erotic connections between humans and machines.
I'll admit up front that I've long been a fan of M.Christian's work (I even edited one of his books, ComingTogether Presents M. Christian) and that I'm deeply in awe of his imagination. Despite what might be considered a positive bias, I still feel totally comfortable and justified in asserting: this is a fantastic book, in both the literal and figurative sense.
The stories in this collection could loosely be called science fiction erotica, but they vary a great deal in focus and tone. Several of them (“Hot Definition”, “Speaking Parts”, “Hack Work” and the excerpt from Christian's novel Painted Doll) are set in a shadowy, perilous, cyber-punk world where everything is for sale and everyone lives on the edge, staying alive through crime or luck or sometimes both. Prosthetics, holographic doppelgangers, constant electronic surveillance, mind-jacking and body snatching – fans of Gibson, Sterling and Cadigan will feel right at home. However, this author isn't primarily concerned with gadgets and technology (never mind the title of the book) but with feelings: fear, hunger, desperation, desire and love. These stories explore how humans reach out for one another, as the mechanical invades and erodes the meaning of humanity.
“Blow Up” and “I am Jo's Vibrator” are lighter in tone. The former lets us into the mind of a man with a peculiar fetish. The latter, as suggested by the title, is narrated by a sex toy. Both will make you smile (or at least, that was my reaction) though “Blow Up”, the first tale in the book, has a subtle darkness that's a preview of the more serious stories to come.
I've read the tale “State” in several other M. Christian collections. It remains one of my favorite erotic stories of all time. A human woman/sex worker impersonates a blue-skinned, state-of-the-art Japanese sex robot. The neat logical flip here satisfies the intellect. The woman's arousal at becoming the ultimate sex object provides satisfaction in other dimensions.
“The Bell House Invitation” is a fabulous new take on ménage, or more accurately, polyamory. Four individuals – two men, two women – live together and share a group mind. Together they seduce another woman with the aim of convincing her to join their communal consciousness. The sex scene in this tale succeeds in exploring all the participants' experience simultaneously, pulling the reader into the mix. It's lusciously explicit without losing the sense of wonder that derives from a level of communion most of us only dream about.
In contrast, “Billie” includes no overt sex at all yet still manages to convey an intense feeling of desire. This vignette of a butch woman speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway on her vintage 1977 Harley Davidson details a synergy between human and machine so strong it becomes erotic.
“A Light Minute” focuses on communication over a distance, as a reclusive woman terrified of the world outside opens herself to the lover she knows only via electronic missives.
Finally, “KSRN” is a dream-like reverie about speed and sex, chrome and compassion. If I'd been the author, I would have put this story last in the book. It leaves you feeling haunted and yet somehow complete.
Overall, my reaction to this book was “Wow”. But then, I'm seriously turned on by originality. If you share this trait with me – get yourself a copy of Technorotica.
(And by the way - the book includes a great preface and afterword, too!)