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Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists, edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press, 2015).

Reviewed by Jean Roberta

In the first story in this collection, Dawn – who won’t sleep because she’s afraid of dreaming –visits her lover Alyssa, who makes potions in her basement laboratory. Dawn reluctantly drinks Alyssa’s mixture to counter the effects of insomnia, and the readout of her brainwaves is like nothing Alyssa has ever seen.

In the aftermath of Dawn’s “trip,” a cat named Treacle appears in Alyssa’s house, having apparently crossed over from another world.
Alyssa tells Dawn: “You’ve dreamed there before.” Dawn nods. Alyssa goes on: “And you saw Treacle there.”

“Yeah,” Dawn answers. “She was different.”

“A person,” says Alyssa. Dawn asks how she knows this. Alyssa explains: “she wore striped socks and a pinafore over a frock dress.”

This reference to the title character of Alice in Wonderland (and specifically to Sir John Tenniel’s contemporary illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel) makes it clear where both Dawn and Alyssa have gone, not only in dreams: to Wonderland, where nothing is the same as in the world we know.

This story sets the tone for a diverse anthology of stories that are both original and full of allusions to actual history as well as to literary history. The stories are preceded by a brief introduction by Connie Wilkins and an essay, “From Alexander Pope to Splice,” by librarian and pulp-fiction historian Jess Nevins. This overview of female “mad scientists,” both fictional and real, dates back to writer and amateur scientist Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) and to medieval scholars before her.  Women who have wanted to understand the physical world and to change it are shown to have existed for much longer than most of us have been led to believe.

Some literary historians trace sci-fi by women to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (first published 1818), a cautionary tale that warns of the consequences of meddling with natural processes by creating a hideous new being that is tragically rejected by humans. By contrast, several stories in this collection feature the creation of humanoid female robots that are capable of complex thought and emotions, and who interact with humans to everyone’s benefit.

One theme of this collection is the thin line between “artificial intelligence” and the more organic kind, and several central characters show their lesbianism by falling in love with female robots. The most moving of these stories, “Doubt the Sun” by Faith Mudge, takes its title from a Shakespeare poem: “Doubt thou the stars are fire/Doubt that the sun doth move/Doubt truth to be a liar/But never doubt I love.” A lonely girl who learns to restore a burned, abandoned “Gorgon,” a kind of bionic experiment, names her Athene and develops an indivisible bond with her. Eventually, Athene is able to return the favour when her human rescuer seems damaged beyond repair.

There is much reference to political and social history in these stories, and to the inventions that are inspired by desperation. The fast-paced period piece “Bank Job Blues” by Melissa Scott is set in the Dirty Thirties and follows a gang of female bank robbers.  In the brilliant “Riveter” by Sean Eads, “Rosie the Riveter” of the Second World War (the image that encouraged actual woman to support the war effort by filling factory jobs left vacant by men at the front) is an actual woman who fascinates Adolf Hitler’s mistress. “The Eggshell Curtain” by Romie Stott shows an unusual relationship between two women during the intellectual and social upheavals that led to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Each of these eighteen stories contains a perfectly-realized miniature world in which strong, quirky, resourceful women create what they need, for better and worse.  The tone of these stories is extremely varied, from the young-adult-adventure tone of “Meddling Kids” by Tracy Canfield to over-the-top comedy of “The Ice Weasels of Trebizond” by Mr. and Mrs. Brenchley to the realistic horror of “The Moorhead Maze
Experiment” by Tim Lieder,  in which a lesbian academic couple of the 1970s subject university students to a devastating psychological experiment.

If you read only one anthology of science fiction this year, Daughters of Frankenstein should be it. Each story presents a thought-provoking thesis wrapped in a delicious plot.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: themeson from The X-Files
02 September 2015 @ 10:59 pm
My updated list:

CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS with Deadlines (Mostly Erotica)
Characters of any gender
LGBT characters
Female (lesbian) characters
Male (gay) characters

Licked (House of Erotica)  - Sep 15
Winter Shivers (non-erotic, Inkstained Succubus)  - Sep 15
Girls on Campus (Bold Strokes) - Sep 15
Holiday Want Ads   (Torquere) -  Sep 15
Historical Erotica Contest (Lush Stories)  - Sep 17
Stocking Stuffers (JMS Books) - Oct 1
“In Verse” – erotic poetry (Coming Together) - Oct 1                                                                                                        Snowed In (Torquere, 3-10K, HEA or HFN) - Oct 15
Murder, Mystery, Mayhem (House of Erotica) - Oct 31
Tonight, She’s Yours – heterosexual “cuckolding” (Rose Caraway) - Oct 31
Twisted Fables (Torquere) - Nov 15
Riverdance (Torquere, Irish theme) - Dec 15
Badass - outlaw theme  (Inkstained Succubus) - Dec 15
Victorian Era Erotica (Riverdale Avenue Books) - Dec 31
Friends of Hyankinthos (Lethe) - Jan 1
Fool for Love (Torquere) - Jan 15
Femdom Erotica (Riverdale Avenue) - Jan 31
Theory of Love (Torquere) - Feb 15
Time of Your Life: Graduation (Torquere) - Mar 15
Xenophile - alien theme (Inkstained Succubus) - Mar 15
Summer Lovin: 50s theme (Torquere) - Apr 15
Beach Rental (Torquere) -  May 15                                                                                                                                      Back to School: May-Dec Romances in College (Torquere) - June 15
Mythos for the Modern Age (Inkstained Succubus) - June 15
Harvest Moon: paranormal (Torquere) - July 15
Heart Stoppers: uniform theme (Torquere) - Aug 15
Home for the Holidays (Torquere)  -  Sep 15
Friends with Strange Benefits (Inkstained Succubus)  -  Sep 15                                                                                                                                 
04 August 2015 @ 11:53 pm
Okay, the gazelle has been moving. This is my stepson's metaphor.

Stepson has a female friend who is trying to launch a decluttering business - for $60 per room or $200 for a day, she will help clients sort out the messes in their living space.

Stepson thinks his mother and I desperately need this service. He brought Friend to our house to get the tour, so I walked her through all the rooms. She was polite.

Since I'm on my summer break for 2 months, I thought I would start the decluttering myself. I sorted, chucked out, and asked Spouse for her opinion. (She clearly hates making these decisions, but if I chuck out something she values, she obviously doesn't like it.)

We now have a guest bedroom worthy of the name, and curtains at all the windows! My phone/camera isn't handy, but I will try to post some photos in due course. Our guest room has a queen-sized bed with memory foam mattress, area rug, TV,  closet, chest of drawers and a mirror. The window frames a green view of the back yard. I would enjoy being a guest in this house.

When the family and friends went to a restaurant to celebrate my informal anniversary with spouse (anniversay of our first night together in July 1989, NOT wedding anniversary), Stepson commented on my efforts in the house: sometimes a gazelle needs to be chased by a lion so she will run, and not sit around eating grass. (I hardly think gazelles eat grass. They're not cows or goats. And is my writing really equivalent to eating grass? Whatever.)

I'm still trying to decide whether the cleaner, tidier, more inviting home is creating cleaner, clearer thought patterns. The jury is still out.
29 May 2015 @ 12:10 am
Liquid Longing: An Erotic Anthology of the Sacred and Profane by Annabeth Leong (Forbidden Fiction, 2015).

- reviewed by Jean Roberta

Annabeth Leong is a mistress of the bittersweet fantasy with the unpredictable conclusion. When her characters get what they want, it usually costs them more than they could foresee. Although many of the characters in this collection are supernatural beings from ancient myths, their behavior rings true. All genders and several sexual orientations are represented.

Several of these stories are based on ancient Greek myths, and Leong manages to make them fresh. In “Hunting Artemis,” the narrator is sent to become a chaste follower of the goddess at the age of ten. An old mentor tells her: “We run so hard and shoot so sure, Nikia, not only for love of the goddess and the hunt, but also because we must take revenge for all we sacrifice.” At the time, Nikia doesn’t understand how much she will have to give up to remain a perpetual virgin in the service of Artemis. Ten years later, however, a handsome young man comes to pay his respects to the goddess, and Nikia craves his touch as much as he craves that of the goddess he worships.

“Icarus Bleeds” is an even more wrenching story, this time set in a vaguely post-apocalyptic city in which backstreet doctors actually implant wings into the shoulder-blades of those who want to fly – for a hefty price. The operation is dangerous and not always successful, but a man who calls himself Daedalus – the “daddy” of Icarus – is willing to help the young man achieve his desire. As the narrator, Daedalus is surprised to realize that what began as a hookup can rise above the sordid, even in a context of furtive business deals and constant danger.

“The Snake and the Lyre” is an intense retelling of the myth of Eurydice, the woman who loves the musician Orpheus, although he pays more attention to his lyre than to her. After she is killed, he tries to lure her back from the Underworld, but someone there is determined to keep her.

“Andromache’s Prize” is a stunning spin on The Trojan Women, Euripides’ tragic play about the aftermath of the Athenian conquest of Troy in The Iliad. In Leong’s version, the Trojan princess Andromache offers another defeated woman a reason to continue living. (I couldn’t help imagining the Andromache in this story as British actress Vanessa Redgrave, who plays her in a movie of Euripides’ play.)

The plots of these stories have such a logical momentum that it takes the reader awhile to realize that several of them fit into currently-popular erotic themes. There is a “tentacle porn” story, a wickedly funny story about zombies in Hollywood, and a “bucket list” story about a woman who consents to one last fling with a man who can sense her impending death.  There is also a fairy tale story, “The Three Wives of Bluebeard;” in this version, the murdered wives of a rich man are able to comfort and seduce the current wife as she wanders the castle alone in her husband’s absence. There is even a story dealing with heavenly (not demonic) erotic activity in an eighteenth-century convent, “The Miracles of Dorothea of Andrine.” The bewildered churchman who confesses his crisis of faith to his superior is the best possible narrator.

“In the Death of Winter” evokes the unequal relationship between vulnerable human flesh and the merciless cold of a northern climate; the gender-changing winter deity in this story is as powerful as the Snow Queen in the Hans Christian Anderson story. Another story which seems to take place in an imaginary culture is “Fires of Edo,” in which a veteran fire-fighter, on the verge of retirement, meets his supernatural protector.

Each of these stories is so good that picking a favorite is impossible. The brief summary at the beginning of each story seems unnecessary, and so does the sexual labelling (m/f, f/f, m/m), which seems to reduce each story to a masturbation fantasy. This collection is far beyond that, and the pleasure of reading it is beyond a momentary tingle.
09 May 2015 @ 12:31 pm
Review of The Witches of Gloucester by Lisabet Sarai
(Hong Kong: Ladylit, 2015)

- reviewed by Jean Roberta

There should be a genre called “place fiction,” in which the location is a major character in itself, and its personality influences the plot. This fantasy novella belongs in that genre. Here is the opening scene:

“Once upon a time, in an old port city north of the capital where the clippers
used to flit in and out of the bay like giant butterflies, there were three witches.
Well, only two of them knew they were witches, at least at the start of the story.”

The two witches who are introduced at the beginning of this delightful sex fantasy have lived and loved each other for many years in a New England port city which preserves the past. Marguerite, “who counted Portuguese traders and African shamans among her ancestors,” collects keepsakes from various cultures, and occasionally invites the local population into “her museum-like abode” to sell items she no longer wants.

Marguerite’s companion Beryl, a freckled redhead who “hailed from generations of Boston Irish,” runs an antiquarian bookstore and dresses in hippy style. The two women are not immortal but are much older than they look, and they are responsible for much of the city’s natural and cultural charm, from “the crystalline sparkle of sunlight on the waves,” to “the welcoming sense of history that pervaded the narrow streets.”

A reader could object that the history of Massachusetts was not always “welcoming,” especially to women accused or “guilty” of witchcraft, but Beryl and Marguerite seem to have banished the Christian intolerance of the past. They also seem immune to jealousy.

The mission of the resident witches is to find a third witch to complete their circle and multiply their power. They want to spread love and well-being, not destruction, and their primary method of raising positive energy is by having sex with each other. Although some of their activities could be classified as BDSM, neither witch is permanently Dominant over the other, and they want their new recruit to become equally versatile.

Enter platinum-haired Emmeline, a restless visitor to the town who has rented a cottage near the water so that she can “work on her dissertation in peace and privacy” after “the nasty break-up with Tim.”  Emmeline’s ex-boyfriend accused her of being a nymphomaniac, and she has sought refuge near the sea, which she loves, to clear her mind.

The resident witches are aware of Emmeline’s energy, but they know they must not “bind her with magic.” Emmeline herself is unaware that her general horniness is a sign of psychic strength. She needs to be introduced to her inborn talents, and learn how to develop them. She needs to be healed from the self-doubt and self-blame inflicted on her by an insecure man. She also needs to finish her dissertation, but sexual fulfillment and a little magic will help her concentration.

Marguerite and Beryl invite Emmeline over for “tea,” to welcome her to the town, and what follows is a feminist seduction. Emmeline “comes out” as a lesbian and a witch by recognizing yearnings and abilities which were always in her, and she bonds with her two mentors. 

The sex in this short novel is generous, satisfying, varied and orgasmic. The only readers who are likely to find it disappointing are those who would like the three heroines to find male playmates. (Sorry, folks, this is women-only space.) Those who are familiar with Gloucester will probably view it differently after reading this sensuous, upbeat fantasy about its three female guardians.

(For those who aren't familiar with the place, I recommend looking up "Gloucester, Massachusetts," as I did, to find some scenic views of it.)
Current Location: Canada, Regina
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: none
19 February 2015 @ 02:36 pm
NOTE: I tried to post this review of the following book to Amazon.com, where the book is advertised, and the review was rejected.

When She Was Good: Best Lesbian Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino, introduced by Ali Liebegott (Cleis Press, 2014).

Cleis Press introduced the Best Lesbian Erotica series in 1995, and a new volume has appeared every year since then. From time to time, Cleis has selected stories from the series to be republished, usually in themed anthologies. This one is a kind of best-of-the-best collection.

The title story, “When She Was Good” by Betty Blue, is about a dykey seducer. According to Sadie, the narrator: “Tib was a master of misdirection. While you were watching her left hand, the right was stealing your heart straight through your rib cage.” In a dramatic scene, Sadie meets Tib on a hot summer day while Tib is “playing” a naked blonde in a canyon outside the small western town where Sadie works as a waitress. Sadie is shocked but fascinated, and willing to learn more about Tib. The sex in this story is hot, but a clash of expectations leads to mutual disillusionment. Tib is revealed as a woman with two extremely different identities.

Identities or roles, imposed or self-chosen, seem to be one of the themes of this collection. In Peggy Munson’s “The Storm Chasers,” an Amish girl explores her desires before she must decide whether to make a commitment to the community in which she was raised. There are butches and femmes, mature women and teenage girls, and even a ghost and a family of vampires in these stories.

According to Tristan Taormino, first editor of the BLE series, a major theme in the book is transgression. As she explains in a foreword: “As queer people, we have already challenged one powerful norm by claiming our queerness. So when we tell stories of longing, desire, love, affection and sex, those stories are, by definition, outside of dominant mainstream culture. But the college kid, upper-crust society lady, pro-domme, bootblack boi, female cop, butch Daddy, grocery store clerk, and others who inhabit the twenty-two stories in this book go way past the point of queer lust and fucking.”

The contributors are a good mix of promising new writers in the field and skilled veterans, and the equal-opportunity approach of the editors of the Best Lesbian Erotica series is one of its hallmarks. The writers represented in this collection are (in alphabetical order): Valerie Alexander, D. Alexandria, Jacqueline Applebee, A. Lizbeth Babcock, L. Elise Bland, Betty Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Chandra S. Clark, Isa Coffey, Shanna Germain, Alicia E. Goranson, Roxy Katt, D.L. King, Tamai Kobayashi, Missy Leach, Catherine Lundoff, Peggy Munson, Aimee Pearl, Radclyffe, Nan Rogue, Miel Rose, and Anna Watson. This book is a feast of compelling sexual fantasies.
Current Location: Canada, Regina
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge
17 February 2015 @ 11:48 am
NOTE: this book is due to be released in May 2015. This reviewer got a pre-publication copy for review.

Portraits at an Exhibition by Patrick E. Horrigan (Lethe Press)
Reviewed by Jean Roberta.

The structure of this novel appears at first to have too many frames in every sense. The third-person narrative centered on a gay-male art lover named Robin is interspersed with descriptions of the portraits in a New York art gallery that Robin studies as a means of understanding his own life as well as distracting himself from it. Other characters, including a female security guard and a psychologist who may or may not be the man who could save Robin from his demons, enter the gallery and star in their own streams of consciousness.

The impression of a chorus of voices, or an exhibition of portraits (literal and figurative) resolves itself into a clear pattern after the first few pages. Once the reader has adjusted to the quick changes of tone, the effect is rich and poignant. Here Robin reads a sign that introduces the exhibition of oil portraits:

“Today, portraiture is ubiquitous: people stare out at us from newspapers, magazines, and websites; movies and TV shows contain countless ‘close-ups’; our own faces adorn ID cards, passports, driver’s licenses, and online networking sites; snapshots fill our wallets and photo albums; pictures and family and friends cover our walls at home and our desks at work” [passage in bold in the novel].

Robin is reminded of his own collection of photographs:

“He had finally put away the picture of Brian after weeks of pretending it wasn’t really over. Now there was just the one of Stephen [Robin’s deceased twin] and himself when they were seven years old, dressed for Halloween as Batman and Robin (he always came second—‘Little Squirt’ Stephen used to call him), and the photo of the two of them, arm in arm, on the day of their high school graduation.”

Robin continues reading:

“The camera’s ability to produce an accurate mirror reflection of whatever it sees in the world is perhaps the most vital legacy of the Renaissance portrait.”

The real-life circumstances behind each portrait are explained on signs, but Robin, who dropped out of a Ph.D. program in art history, is already well-aware that art comes from life. While studying Portrait of a Boy by John Singer Sargent, Robin notices that the boy’s mother is painted behind him, fading into the darkness of the background. She holds a book about the War of 1812, from which she reads aloud to hold the boy’s attention. To Robin, the woman looks like a servant, while the beautiful boy in the foreground shows the unconscious arrogance of privileged youth. Robin reads:

“In April 1890, Saint-Gaudens [the boy’s father] expressed a desire to sculpt a portrait of Sargent’s twenty-year-old sister Violet, in exchange for one by Sargent of Saint-Gaudens’ ten-year-old son, Homer.”

Robin considers the status of the two women and the boy as items of exchange between two successful male artists. As a university student, he studied the work of trendy theorists on the politics of inequality, but his sensitivity to the feelings of those who are treated as less-than (“squirts”) can be traced back to his own boyhood.

The contrast between physical and spiritual beauty, and Robin’s awareness of his own esthetic  snobbery, are threads that run through his consciousness. As a man in his thirties, he has moved uncomfortably beyond youth, but he hasn’t yet reached middle age; he is looking for love as well as sex while he is still able to attract attention. Like so many others, Robin is afraid he might never find everything he wants in one Significant Other. He is haunted by a fear of failure on several levels.

The reader is taken on a tour through the gallery as Robin studies Portrait of a Young Man by Sandro Botticelli, Self-Portrait in Fur Cloak by Albrecht Durer, a portrait by Velasquez of his Moorish apprentice and former slave, Juan de Pareja, and Portrait of an Old Man by Hans Memling. Robin’s loneliness, his self-doubt, his hopes and desires are mirrored in the stunningly lifelike portraits of various men from the late 1400s. Few of Robin’s questions are answered by the end of the novel – and his most urgent question is whether he has contracted AIDS, that modern equivalent of a terrifyingly infectious, incurable disease from a past century. Luckily for the reader, his encounters with the living and the dead serve to counteract his tendency to be self-absorbed.

What this novel lacks in speed it makes up for in depth. Patrick Horrigan’s study of the human condition in our time shows the continuing influence of Renaissance humanism. Polymaths of the fifteenth century, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Pico della Mirandola, would probably feel at home in Robin’s world.
The next contributor in the blog tour is L.C. Spoering.

Check out the interview:

Current Location: home
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: none
05 September 2014 @ 10:17 pm
Note: Both Rebecca Lynne Fullan and Jean Roberta are contributors to Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire.  See more details at the bottom of the interview.
JR: 1. You’re quite a diverse writer as well as an academic. How do you handle writing in various genres? For example, does your involvement in the theater world inspire your fiction-writing?

RLF: I have always liked to write all kinds of things. Everything cross-pollinates in a mysterious way that I don’t quite understand. I mean, often it’s what I call productive procrastination—right now, for example, I planned to work on my dissertation proposal, but I am writing this instead. I often play various kinds of writing and projects off of each other—sometimes with exciting success, and sometimes in a way that creates a tangled mess of getting nothing much done.

More interestingly, though, I find the energy of one kind of writing/thinking/brain work directly feeds the energy of other kinds. I don’t exactly know how to explain that, except that it's pretty clear that it happens. Last year, I was in the end throes of working toward my oral exam for my PhD, and I noticed that it was exactly ten years since I’d been in the same end throes with my undergraduate thesis—and both of these were the only times I’d come close to doing the poem-a-day writing challenge that comes around every April. I hadn’t previously associated the academic writing intensity with the creative writing intensity, but now that I see it, I think it’s not at all coincidental. My vague dream-project right now is some kind of little book that collects all the vibrant, off-or-on-topic creative activities that academics do as the flip side of their dissertations.

Theater and fiction, for me, are intimately connected. They are the most vibrant forms of story-making I engage with. Theater, I think, can remind me that all story-making is collaborative, even though fiction can seem like one singular product from one singular brain. We are always creating with and for others, even when we don’t know who those others are or will be.

JR: 2. I once promised my long-term female partner that I would never write about her (or a thinly-disguised version) in my fiction. Have you and your partner made any similar pact?

RLF: Interesting! My wife and I (just married this summer, hooray!) have made no such promises, perhaps because we are both writers, and story-making and eroticism are not necessarily discrete, separable things in my mind, nor, I think, in hers. Aside from this, I never base my characters off of real people in a wholesale way, where you could say—oh, look, it’s me!— though certainly character traits and little quirks and aspects of real life sneak in. I find it distracting and too much of a burden to be working from life in a more direct way.

It is tricky, writing about women having sex with each other, because I assume that people will be like, my, you have sex with a woman, you must have this kind of sex in this way and what you’re writing in erotica must be exactly what you like/do/want, etc. And of course that’s very layered and complicated, both true and untrue. I think erotica can feel embarrassing—to read, to write—precisely because it calls the question of all of these dynamics and atmospheres and tones which are erotically charged in other types of writing, but which can veil themselves if the sex is not explicitly present and part of the story’s purpose. For example, there’s a dangerous feel to the world of “Our Woman,” and I am serious about what the story (and its danger) are exploring politically, but there’s also a desperate atmosphere because that’s sexy to me, and, since it’s now in an erotica anthology, presumably to others. Erotica can reveal that, can make the nuances of desire explicit and sexualized, and that is something that makes me nervous, although obviously I have some commitment to it as well.

That’s a bit off-track from your question, but it has to do with the feeling of high personal stakes that may have led to the pact you and your partner have—and while my wife and I do not share such a pact, I think we can both feel those stakes.

JR: 3. Is there anything about you that would surprise your readers?

RLF: Oh my, I hope so. I mean, I hope I even have readers of the sort who have made any impression of me beyond reading whatever piece I have in whatever forum they encounter it.

I suppose a casual reader might be surprised about the breadth of my work and my tastes. So far, I have not used pen names for anything, though using them can also be a fun and liberating choice for a writer. But I've chosen not to because I am one person, who wants to write about Catholicism and about fucking and about literature and about various other things—and I want to stand by my own complexity, and I figure other people are also very complex and will appreciate seeing that in me. I have always been struck by the idea that being pure is being made of only one thing. I’m not pure. I’m not made of only one thing—and I reach out in that truth about myself in the hopes that others share similar truths and want such truths made visible in ways they are often not.

Beyond that—I don’t know! I sometimes do canning projects, even though I have a little New York City apartment kitchen. My favorite color is red.

JR: 4. Do you have any phantom careers: jobs or roles you like to fantasize about that you haven’t pursued in real life?

RLF: Sure! When I was a little kid, I wanted to be the first actress-who-wrote-her-own-plays on the moon. I have, at this point, written a play that I've also performed in, but I have not done it on the moon, and, though I don't know if it would deter me from the adventure of space were it directly available, I do get motion sick now that I'm an adult and so find the actual imagined process of space travel more daunting. So I don't know if “on the moon” is in the cards for me, though I suppose only time will tell.

When deciding to pursue an academic career, one of the motivating factors was that it was the most delineated and realistic career path I could at all see myself enjoying. That's obviously ridiculous, given how difficult it is to get academic jobs, etc., but it's also true. My career desires are very impractical and unstructured, for the most part.

JR: 5. Your story, “Our Woman,” is a powerfully believable fantasy. Would you like to explain what inspired it? I’m sure our readers would welcome an excerpt!

RLF: Thank you so much for that description—I am very pleased that you find it so. It's hard for me to  remember the precise inspiration for the story. Honestly, I think my first thought was that I wanted to write an erotic piece that had an edge to it, psychologically, sexually, atmospherically, and that I wanted to feature fisting. You know, the deep thematic stuff first.

As the story developed, though, I realized it really was about these impossible power dynamics we find ourselves in, and the ways in which violence and coercion can disrupt and prevent the kinds of loving personal connection with others that most of us long for-- but then also how person-to-person relationships can interrupt, change, invert, and inspire political choices and moral stance. The narrator, Lacey, grows up, as we all do, in this astonishingly unjust and violent and strange and confusing society, but grows up processing it as normal and ok-- as, I think, most of us do-- and eventually she's offered a choice to understand more of what is around her or continue in her ignorance. That choice is catalyzed by her personal relationship to Sarah, who is enslaved as a political prisoner and given to Lacey's family, and certainly by erotic desire, and I think that's also pretty common and one of the awesomely powerful things about sex-- it can pull you out of what you know, what you expect of yourself and the world. That doesn't have to be good or life-giving, but it certainly can be.

Sarah and Lacey's father, the other two characters of import in the story, have both relinquished their political pasts because of the harsh repression those pasts have brought on them, and that process puts them into this terrible relationship to each other as slave and master.

Here's an excerpt for you, from the moment when Lacey learns that Sarah is a slave:

“Our Woman is not a slave,” I said. “She wants to be here with us.”
The man chuckled and didn’t say anything else on the subject. The next time Our Woman and I were alone I burned with shame and questions and startled visibly when she said my name.
“Lacey, will you come help me peel these potatoes?”
I walked over and picked up a potato and a knife. My hands shook. I set them down again. Our Woman was peeling steadily, not looking at me.
“Why do you think I have a brand?” she said at last. Her voice was calm and almost kind. “Why do you think I am called ‘Your Woman,’ instead of by a name? You have heard other people speak of their Women and Men. You must have understood before now.”
“I didn’t,” I said. It was a lie, but it was also not a lie. Our guests were so infrequent: the whole pattern of life I understood was contained among my father and Our Woman and me. “I thought—I thought you were Our Woman because you loved me. I thought you wanted to take care of me.” I heard my own words in the silence, childish, need-swollen. I picked up the potato and the knife. I began to peel. “Please tell me the truth, Woman. Do you—” I was struck with the horror of it, the obviousness of it—“Do you have a name? Have you had a name all along, for years—”
“Yes,” she said. “I have a name. I had one. I haven’t heard it since the war.”
I peeled furiously and sliced the top layer of skin off of a finger along with the potato peel. Our Woman put her hands on mine. She took the knife from me and laid it down.  My cut finger burned and stung where she touched it. I looked at her face, and while her voice and hands remained so steady, her face was not calm. It was a wilderness of feeling.  She squeezed my hands hard and I gasped with the pain. I thought of how she was always near me, with knives, with fire, with water, with rocks.
“My father trusts you,” I said, wondering.
“To an extent,” she answered.
“To the extent of me.” I paused, trying to choose my words carefully. “And I trust you to the extent of me.”

Leave a comment on any post in the Forbidden Fruit blog tour to be entered into a random draw to win one of these great prizes. Prizes include a paperback copy of Girls Who Score, lesbian sports erotica edited by Ily Goyanes, Best Lesbian Romance 2011 edited by Radclyffe, Wild Girls, Wild Nights: True Lesbian Sex Stories edited by Sacchi Green, an ebook of Ladylit’s first lesbian anthology Anything She Wants, and a bundle of three mini-anthologies from Ladylit: Sweat, A Christmas to Remember, and Bossy. All of these titles contain some stories written by the fabulous contributors to Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire. You must include an email address in your comment to be entered into the draw.
Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire is available direct from the publisher, Ladylit (http://www.ladylit.com/books/forbidden-fruit/) or from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Forbidden-Fruit-stories-unwise-lesbian-ebook/dp/B00N55URLO/, Smashwords, and other good retailers of ebooks. Check out http://www.ladylit.com/books/forbidden-fruit/ for all purchasing information.

Next stop on the blog tour: http://lcspoering.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/forbidden-fruit-blog-tour-and-interview/
Current Location: home
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: none
15 July 2014 @ 01:02 am
Outline of nameless (so far) book about censorship in Canada, 1980s to the Present

  1. Roots: The Legal Basis of Censorship in Canada

  • Licensing Act, UK, 1662, bans publication of certain material (a lingering effect of Puritan rule?)

  • Society for the Suppression of Vice founded by William Wilberforce, 1802

  • Introduction of a compulsory education system in Britain & its colonies, 1837 – growing concern about reading-matter that could be read by  women, children, the “lower orders”

  • The Obscene Publications Act (“Lord Campbell’s Bill”) 1857, grandfather of all subsequent legislation, including a later Obscene Publications Act in Canada, 1959

  1. The New Feminism

  • The legacy of Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy and other “First Wave” feminists, leading to the vote for women (nationally in 1920, earlier in some provinces & territories) , and the legal definition of women as “persons”

  • Brief overview of Second Wave feminism, which began with printed works of theory (Thinking About Women, The Female Eunuch, Man’s World, Woman’s Place, The Dialectic of Sex, The Politics of Housework, the works of Andrea Dworkin, et al.), circa 1968-1971.

  • Founding of provincial “action committees” and the National Action Committee on the Status of Women following the report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, 1968

  • The rise of a Dworkinite definition of sexually-explicit material as inherently oppressive to women (not present in the earliest “Second Wave” theories)

  • The clash of feminist advances (e.g. liberalized divorce, women’s greater access to relatively well-paid jobs) with the “sexual revolution” as defined by heterosexual men

  • The rising visibility of gay men and lesbians after the Stonewall Riots in New York, and the decriminalization of sex between men in 1968 under Pierre Trudeau’s government

  • Second-Wave feminist demand for protective laws as parallel to “First Wave” feminist support for age-of-consent laws, legislation against prostitution and the banning of alcohol.

  1. The Feminist Sex Wars of the 1980s

  • Conflict at “Sex and the State” conference at Barnard College, U.S.A. 1982

  • The rise of AIDS in the 1980s

  • Bath-house raids

  • The Minneapolis and Indianapolis Ordinances, drafted by Dworkin and McKinnon, 1982/83

  • The Charter of Equality Rights, Canada, 1982

  • The Body Politic (Toronto, 1971-1987) on trial for obscenity, 1982 (first charged 1977)

  • The Fraser Report on Pornography and Prostitution, 1985

  • Books ordered by Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium (Vancouver) first stopped at the border by Canada Customs (1987)

  • Trouble at the Third International Feminist Book Fair, Montreal, 1988: shots fired against “appropriation of voice/culture” as well as “porn” (despite the presence of erotic publications)

  • Broadside magazine (Toronto, 1978-88) as opponent of “appropriation”

  1. The Wars Expand: The 1990s and Beyond

  • The split in the Women’s Press collective (Toronto) over “appropriation”

  • (possibly) The withdrawing of Herotica 7 (with a theme of interracial/intercultural sex) by the collective of Down There Press in San Francisco, 2003, as part of the lingering feminist opposition to “appropriation”

  • The trial of Bad Attitude magazine (Boston) in Canada: the Butler decision, 1992

  • The banning of Exit to Eden (Hollywood movie based on Anne Rice erotic novel of the same name) by the Saskatchewan Film Classification Board, 1994, based on provincial legislation

  • The ruling that Canada’s laws against “keeping a common bawdy house,” “living off the avails of prostitution,” and “soliciting” are unconstitutional, 2010

  • Current conflict over laws regarding the sex trade, and vagueness of censorship laws

  • Conclusion: no final definition of subjects that deserve to be banned or censored is possible.

This is what I have so far. I don't have a deadline, a schedule or a contract. If the outline meets with approval, it should give me enough to do for the next year.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: none