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The Green Monster
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Written by Paul   
Thursday, 27 October 2011 01:13


A very annoyed black cat clutches a teddy bear protectively. Caption:

This monster is not green, but it is certainly jellus.

Jealousy is one of the most overhyped and dangerous emotions out there, and it has become almost enshrined in popular culture as a pass to do whatever you want.  I would say that after flat-out prudery, jealousy is the biggest barrier to any kind of real, honest discussion of sex.  After all, isn't one of the big caveats thrown up at porn users that their partners are (or should be) jealous of their porn use?  "How can I compete?" is something I have heard more often that I care to remember.  Ignoring the fact that your sex life is not, and should not be, a competition of any kind.

I understand jealousy, I do, but sexual jealousy now seems as foreign to me as Klingon.  I can remember that I used to feel it, but I can't really recall how it felt.  Sometimes that causes problems, especially when writing porn.  After all, sexual jealousy comes up in porn fairly often, and depicting it is something I am called upon to do as a pornographer.  I find this a sticky topic in several ways.

I personally find the frisson between the expectation of sexual fidelity and the total sexual abandon we normally depict in our work to be tremendously interesting, and fertile ground for the kinds of psychological tension that makes sex much more exciting than just bodies rubbing together.  The most alluring sex is the sex you aren't supposed to be having, and if there's not some barrier or element of wrongness to a coupling then it's not going to be compelling.  A pairing that entails a large age difference, or societal barriers like class, race, or even familial relation is much more interesting than just two people getting it on.  It provides that element of inner conflict that makes for a really hot scene.

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Book Review: Whispers in Darkness, edited by J. Blackmore
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Written by Amanda Gannon   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 01:29

The tentacles of an octopus crawling up and embracing a human back.

Think this sounds more crazy than awesome? Boy, do I have a surprise for you.

As a Lovecraft fan and a sometime columnist for Weird Tales, I jumped at the chance to review Circlet's latest anthology, Whispers in Darkness: Lovecraftian Erotica.  I missed the chance to submit to it, which I now sorely regret, but I spread the word, and every single person I spoke to about the concept said some variation of the following:

"Lovecraftian . . . erotica . . . these words should never go together!"

Usually with a wince and a shudder and some muttering about naughty tentacles.

I admit that, though I saw the potential in the idea, I doubted it could be done well.  Lovecraft's ideas about the nature of the universe and what it means to be human are so deeply unsettling that they run completely counter to anything sane, comforting, or human.  There seems little room for the erotic impulse; it would be laughable, or simply too disturbing to be contemplated.  There didn't appear to be a way to bring the two genres together without doing a terrible disservice to both.

Thank goodness Circlet, under the steady editorial hand of Jen Blackmore, went for it anyway, and proved me wrong. (And yes, there are tentacles, pseudopods, and appendages in abundance, but it is not a one-note all-tentacle-sex opera.)

It would have been a disservice and a cop-out to choose stories meant solely to shock, or which approach the theme sarcastically, but there's nothing gimmicky about these stories, even when they're shocking.  They're honest, loving homages meant to broaden the body of Lovecraft-related work and share appreciation of the genre.  And they're good. This sort of writing can only come from people who love Lovecraft.  Each one is a devotional offering lovingly placed on the altar of the mythos.

The mythos influence varies, but most stand alone; acquaintance with Lovecraft's work is helpful but not required, and they are enjoyable as horror erotica on their own.  You do, however, need to be someone who appreciates the weird tale as a genre to understand just how spot-on some of these are.

Let's take them one at a time:

 

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Bad Romance
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Written by Paul   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 01:10

The words

image by urban_data on Flicker licensed thru cc 2.0

It can be a very odd experience marketing the kind of fiction we do, as we don't really fit most people's existing stereotypes, and marketing is all about stereotypes.  You need a shorthand, some way to say "THIS is what we do and why you will like it" in the 5 seconds you have their attention for.  You can't launch into a long explanation, you have to be able to say "We are like this" and compare yourself to something else, hopefully something people like.

I wouldn't really call us 'erotica', because we're actually rather blatantly porny, and the focus of our narratives isn't actually on an erotic atmosphere or idea.  We tell stories that happen to have sex in them, explicit sex.  The goal is to be like a mainstream adventure story that doesn't fade to black when things get steamy - that's pretty much our formula right there. 

One thing we don't really do - despite what you might expect - is romance.  Not that there is not romance in our stories, there is some.  But romance is not the main focus of what we do.  More than one person has suggested that the romance community might be a good place to spread the word about our stuff.  It might, but I feel like that would be dishonest in several ways.

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