Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-045-1
Fantasy Erotica, 2010
Talk about odd. The previous three short stories in the Wasteland series were all about the various ways one can defy gravity and physics in the science of boinking. The last story in this series, RG Alexander’s The Priestess, however, is a sober story. It can stand alone, but it contains references to events in The Breeder and The Whore that are best appreciated if you have read those two stories as well.
Basically, this story is about High Priestess Xian who, after the events in the previous two stories, realizes that perhaps the way of life as she is born and trained to believe in may be wrong. Confused, she travels to the ancient city called the Vault to seek some answers. Accompanying her is the Sun Guard, Hel, who is as attracted to her as she is to him. Such a relationship between a High Priestess and a Sun Guard is considered a taboo, however, and the price they must pay to consummate their attraction would be too high to pay. Or is it?
Oh, this one has some erotic scenes, but I find myself more intrigued by the non-sexual aspects of this story. This story explores the canon of the setting, giving me a clearer picture of how the setting works. It also deals with the changes that Xian feels are needed to give women choices in this world instead of meekly accepting their fates to be either a Priestess, Whore, Breeder, or Wanderer. In the process, there is a pretty touching romance here, made more poignant by the taboo nature of their relationship. For characters in a short story, both Xian and Hel are adequately written and their romance manages to resonate with me despite the constraints of the format.
If you ask me to compare, I’d say I like this story best of the four in the Wasteland series. But at the same time, I have to wonder: with this story so drastically different in terms of tone and style to the other stories, it’s probably unfair to compare them to this one. Oh well, I can’t say I regret reading this story, as it’s a pretty good read for a short story, but I can’t deny that there is some disconnect between this one and the other three stories.