Midnight Showcase, $4.00
Fantasy Erotica, 2006
Deities of Desire is a collection of three fantasy romantic erotica short stories although one of them, Ann Cory’s story, does not follow the romance formula of having a conventional happy ending. Nonetheless, I find the stories pretty interesting in their own way.
Ann Cory’s Insatiable Interlude actually feels to me more like a fantasy short story rather than a romance because the ending is definitely not one that plays by the rules. Derrick lost his wife Marie and has stopped playing the violin ever since. One day he discovers a musical box that contains the trapped spirit of Ghandaras, a victim of a with named Selma who traps her in order to steal her beauty for her own. Derrick inadvertently frees Ghandaras – temporarily – who must make him fall in love with her in order to make sure that her freedom is permanent. Selma will not let Ghandaras so easily, however, but a bigger obstacle in Ghandaras’s quest for her freedom is Derrick’s constant and even absolute love for his late wife.
This story lacks details about world building or even character background. Derrick is hinted to be no longer a young man, but how old he is, I have no idea. As for the setting, all I know is that it takes place near a village called Montage. Is Montage located in an alternate world or this one? I don’t know. I think Derrick and his young friend Prado are hunters. I think, that is. Insatiable Interlude exists in a vacuum. Even the emphasis of this story is not on sex but on issues like love and grief, with the message here being that of a love so abiding that nothing, not even death, can shatter it. The sex scene seems to be something Ann Cory adds in at the last minute – and it’s not even a pleasant one – so that she can sell what seems like a story meant for some fantasy anthology to Midnight Showcase.
I could have liked this story more if there is more information on the characters and the setting. As it is, this story is just there, with many details missing and therefore feeling like parts of a longer story rather than a standalone short story. There are some very interesting ideas and potentially heartbreaking poignancy in this story but because of the incomplete feel of the story, it is not able to fully engage my emotions. I don’t even get a halfway decent idea of who Derrick and Ghandaras are, for example, they don’t even feel like people with real emotions so how am I supposed to care for them?
Mae Powers’s Ménage is a pornographic cartoon of a short story, but it manages to be silly in a campy way so it’s actually considerably entertaining. Again, I have no clue about the what’s or where’s or how’s of this story – it’s another story that exists in a vacuum without any background details of any sort. Zied is a… king? Prince? Whatever. Zied is currently captured by Tagreth, the goddess of… lust? Home? Hearth? The story at various points suggests that she’s a goddess of any or all three of those things so I don’t know. Zied’s wife Yania knows that the evil priestess Kaedeah, who also happens to be her sister, is in cahoots with Tagreth and they are behind the kidnapping of her husband. Why does Tagreth want Zied, you ask? What else? She’s a horny toad who just wants to get laid non-stop. Meanwhile, Yania has to marry a second husband. Why? Don’t ask me. I’m just the reader. I don’t come up with these things. She decides to marry her husband’s best friend Davel. Zied who manages to project his astral body approves of this because best friends, after all, share and share alike. Next thing I know, Zied is taking over Davel’s body while Davel is fully conscious during the process so that Zied can still shag his wife regularly while Davel is also enjoying the fun.
Yania and Davel keep saying that they have to find Zied, but unless they are trying to do some kind of “teleport Zied into the bedroom” spell with all that sex, I have no idea how they are going to do that. After all, rescuing someone will mean getting out of bed, and I don’t think those two are going anywhere out of bed anytime soon. Yania is also a pretty dutiful wife, lusting over Davel and thinking about his oh-so-hot body before going yeah, yeah, must find husband, whatever.
Nonetheless, I find myself having a good laugh at all the tomfoolery going in this story, especially when Yania is suddenly revealed to be some X-rated She-Ra type that gives Tagreth a smackdown that the goddess will never forget. I have this feeling that the author is just making things up as she goes along, but Tagreth is hilarious as a cartoonish penis-craving slut-goddess and there are also plenty of unintentionally hysterically funny things here, such as the previously mentioned lip service to finding and rescuing Zied when all parties involved, including the Astral Body Hotboy version of Zied, would clearly rather just have a shag.
I don’t think Mae Powers will win any writing awards with Ménage but this story is oh so terrible that it becomes so, so good to read and howl in laughter at.
Megan Hussey’s Behold the Beauty is the story of Prince Beausoleil of (I quote) “a Utopian land where his family ruled supreme”. I don’t think he’s talking about America. Anyway, he decides that he’s bored of women throwing themselves at him so he runs away. He finds himself in the company of Agnatha the Healer. This one is a witch shunned by the folks in the Ravenshead, but she’s no “oh no, I’m a victim” character like you’d normally expect such heroines to be in this case. She delivers verbal smackdowns and is all about the sexy. When some jerk challenges her to turn him into a toad so that he would become her pet, her response is that she would do that in “the desperate hope of transforming” that jerk into “a higher life form”. See? I like Agnatha already. Agnatha is also an activist all about the poor people who need love and, of course, democracy.
In short, this is a sexed-up take of the movie Ever After. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen that movie. Agnatha also lives with a talking cat, Edgar, although unlike that cat in Bewitched, Edgar can turn into a man for some fine mm-hmm moments. With a servant like Edgar, you’re probably wondering where Beau will even come in in this story. Well, at the end of the day, Edgar is a cat who can’t be in human form for long so he’s not always going to be available when Agnatha wants to play. Oh, and of course, Agnatha loves Beau and all that, although naturally Edgar’s going to stay with the happy twosome at the end of the day. But not if Beau’s parents have their way. Still, prejudice and meddling parents are no match for happy threesomes and, of course, true love so we can all be assured that the parents will be put in their place at the end of the day.
Behold the Beauty works very well as a short story because Beau and Agnatha are fun characters, especially Agnatha who just won’t let anybody get her down. She rightfully considers herself the queen of her home so she doesn’t feel that she’s not deserving of Beau in any manner. She doesn’t even feel victimized by the fact that people don’t like her and call her a witch even if they come to her whenever someone needs healing. In a longer story, Agnatha’s personality won’t work too well since she has no vulnerable points at all but in this particular short story, she’s a fun character. Beau is a happy-go-lucky fellow who may accept Beau’s joining their bed probably too easily – he even asks Edgar for tips on courting Agnatha because Edgar knows Agnatha more intimately than he does, mind you.
This story is a fun sexed-up take of a fairy tale with plenty of humorous feminist slants and I have a good time reading this. Even with the fact that it’s three in bed rather than the usual two, I actually find myself thinking that Agnatha and Beau really do seem like they are head over heel in love. No doubt their life will be fun of wicked romps and all I can say is, more power to them, really.
While Ann Cory’s story is too underdeveloped, it is nonetheless interesting. But Mae Powers makes me laugh with her ridiculous story while Megan Hussey closes the anthology by entertaining me with her most enjoyable story. I really don’t know what to expect when I start reading Deities of Desire but I end up having a much better time than I initially anticipated!