by Dara Joy, futuristic (2004)
House Of Sages, $14.95, ISBN 0-9753549-0-6
Poor Dara Joy. I don't know the complete story of her current ongoing litigation with Dorchester but apparently she is free to write novellas, poetry, and other forms of writing set in her Matrix of Destiny world. Therefore, That Familiar Touch is actually a collection of two novellas and an assortment of silly doodlings. I notice that this book, now out-of-print (Ms Joy only did one print-run, apparently), sells for as much as $150 on auction and bookseller sites, but I personally believe that you are better off using that $150 on other things, unless your intention is to resell the book for $250 to some sucker on eBay.
The main attraction of That Familiar Touch is no doubt the novella of the same name, which reunites readers with the world where the oversexed kitties like Rejar hail from. Unfortunately, the familiar in this story is a female. I've nothing against oversexed heroines, as anyone familiar with this website can testify, but you know the old adage in the genre where a "sexual" heroine always ends up coming off like some porn star fantasy instead, where the heroine is buxom, scantily-clad, ready to rumble, but unfortunately has the mental capacity of a six-year old girl? Meet Soosha. She defies her people's edict called the Taj Gian to run away from M'yan in a spacecraft to experience some adventures, and she gets a big one in the form of our hero Daxan. Traed and some future sequel-baits show up here as well.
I could have enjoyed this campy space adventure with some actually delightful twists and turns more if the author hasn't tried to go ridiculously cute and corny on me. Dara Joy has apparently decided to give a shout-out to her clone Robin D Owens by deciding that payback's a ball so Ms Joy will this time mimic Ms Owens' way with unmitigated corn. Hence the appearance of words like "happy" and "sad" that I really, really do not want to encounter with regularity outside a grade-school reading program.
And some of the people did not seem very friendly.
On her planet everyone was greeted with a happy smile. Here, several people – and they did look much like her in form – sneered at her as if they thought themselves somehow better.
Happy smiles? And here I am thinking, from Rejar, that familiars are expert debauchers and hedonists with very little innocence left in them. But no, here comes Soosha, wondering why people on other planets are not as sunshiny as those on her planet where apparently Everyone Smiles During Orgasm. Soosha doesn't think - she acts purely on impulse, which will have some readers clucking over how adorable she is and others like me shuddering in horror at Soosha's behavior. "This is terrible!" Soosha will go (her thoughts italicized to emphasize how dramatically noble she is) before running straight to help a poor guy being tortured by the authorities even when she is outnumbered and too braindead to think straight or even wonder why the authorities are torturing the guy.
The end result is a child-woman heroine wandering into a story where she ends up having definitely adult sex with our hero. The vast discrepancy between the heroine's child-like thought processes and her very adult sexual antics make me feel like I'm reading a pedophilia-tinged story. Or a Robin D Owens story, which, come to think of it, is the same thing. Traed and Daxar and all those other virile studs are essentially harmless entertaining fluff, so in the end it is the heroine and the author's misguided attempt to save her readers from the horrors of an adult, sexual heroine that make this book a complete 180 from the previous campy but definitely adult books set in the same world.
Oh, and because this is a short story, it is to be expected that there is not much character development or convincing relationship dynamics.
Kirkpatrick's Woods is the other novella in this collection. It is a very, very short story all about fate, destiny, and of course, sex. It is also an incoherent lucidity-free mess of "What on earth is this?" moments. I am told that this effort is an "experimental writing experience" of sorts for the author. All I can say is, if this is the result of such experiments, she'd best keep them stashed in the drawer.
Other bonus content in The Familiar Touch include glowing fan mails to the author (most of them by people who haven't found a glowing superlative that they don't love) and a cult-leaderish message from the author to her fans. This and other self-congratulatory paddings don't really add much value to the book.
Since this book is independently published, the reader should expect and be prepared to be bombarded with some typographical errors, some clumsy and even unfinished sentences, an occasional weird misplacing of punctuation marks, and other flaws associated with works that aren't edited before being published.
That Familiar Touch cannot compare to the author's previous full-length books in any way because it is too short, for one, and secondly, the little-girl-lost-with-36DDD-mammaries thing is really tiresome to read. I find myself missing the idiot heroine Lilac from Rejar, which is how irritating I find Soosha. If you are a collector of Ms Joy's works and you have this book when it first came out, good for you. If you manage to make some good money by selling the book to a fan, even better. But I seriously advise against paying anything more than the cover price for this book because it is merely a mildly entertaining watered-down retread of elements previously encountered in Knight Of A Trillion Stars and other Matrix of Destiny books. Save that $150 for a book with a nicer cover.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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