Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction

Edited by Rose Mambert and Margarita Bezdomnya
Published by Pink Narcissus Press

This anthology was easy to enjoy because the whole collection is really solid. My favorites were "Mike Dies at the End" by W2, "Baker Boy" by Thomas Fuchs and "Dark Entries" by Michael C. Thompson.  Okay, so I'll just move onward to the summaries:

Incubus-Ex by Ashley-Renee Cribbins
I could kind of see where this one was going from the beginning, but I like the inclusion of an incubus. Okay, so the main plot points would be sister has a relationship with an incubus, Sully, but wants to go to college unburdened so she puts up a hex bag to bind him to the house. Her brother, Austin, is the only one who can pull down the hex bag and set Sully free. He decides not to...as to why he doesn't, that's up to you to find out. 

Mike Dies at the End (A Parody) by W2
First, I just have to say that I love the idea that mystical powers are sexually transmitted. I love all the well-placed absurdity of this story. The line the squirrel says near the beginning, and the fact the fries sing...yeah, you see where I'm going with this-- uh, no you don't. I don't even know where I'm going.
Anyway, the characters are fun and have lots of personality. The situations are crazy, but well-written so that makes them believable in a surrealist on acid kind of way. The descriptions of Real Dolls; horrifying. The solution to the puzzle; quite entertaining.
In final review I love this story. It speaks to me.

Monsters So Fair by Lyle Blake Smythers
This is a fantasy story about fate and prophecy. The narrator, Agib, has first been told that he is the person who can end the curse over a stretch of ocean by destroying the bronze statue on top of Bent Mountain that keeps destroying boats with magnetism. Droo, the son of a merchant, has been told that if the statue on Bent Mountain falls he will be killed by a false Prince named Agib by the time he turns eighteen. The two end up on the same island, but there is no animosity between them, so how can the second prophesy be fulfilled if there is love and not war? In a way I was kind of dreading getting to the ending because the moment that Droo and Agib have together is quite perfect.

The Song by Rob Rosen
Somewhat scary in the build up to the siren, and I enjoyed the treasure hunter's determination to thwart the siren's song. The basic story is that a treasure hunter goes on a quest for gold where he knows that others have failed due to reports of sirens luring the adventurers to their death. Despite his preparations the siren manages to get his attention anyway, but not as he was prepared for.

Dark Entries by Michael C. Thompson
This story is rather twisted and made me want to listen to Bauhaus while reading to get the full effect. The couple, Jonathan and Lawrence, in this story already has a lot of issues with drug problems and paranoia just being the icing on the cake. Lawrence's nightmares and reality start to blur together, and things get even more disjointed around the time he meets a strange, but beautiful man on the beach. The strange man appears to be mocking him, and claims to be named Peter Murphy. Lawrence sees Peter as teasing him, then he sees him as a disturbing fish creature in his nightmares, and then Jon's paranoia sees them as entirely something else. The ending of this story is rather shocking as it is revealed that both men end up with their wishes fulfilled.  

Welcome to Anteaterland by Nathaniel Fuller
I kind of felt like I was missing something as I went through this story. It was like something bigger going on behind the scenes, which I guess is kind of what happens in Anteaterland so maybe that all works out.  

Blood Sugar Sex Magic by Geogina Li
This story is interesting because it reads like a prose poem with influences of city life, and I also get this sensation of contrast between night and day. I had to read this one a couple times to pay attention to everything that's going on around the characters. The rhythm of the words is interesting. I also like the idea of James reading the signs and believing that there are meanings and then other meanings. This story feels like a series of images and has a pace that reminds me of wandering around cities at night after the bars are closed and everything is kind of disorienting.  

Baker Boy by Thomas Fuchs
I love how this story looked at temptation, and it was strange enough that I had to tell a friend who has a culinary arts degree about it right after I read it. References to Baker Boy have been added to our dialogues about food. So, good job.
In this story a man in the best shape of his life gives into the temptation of a mysterious bakery, and to the allure of the baker boy who tempts him with food among other things. Sure, the main character gains a lot of weight that the sexual escapades can't work off, but the end results were not quite as expected.

The Zombissager by Colleen Chen
Sir Zomablot is out to conquer Peaceville with his army of undead cocks that he has packaged and sold as Zombissagers.  Super boyfriends Coolman and Awesomeman can't let that happen. If the names are any indication this is a silly story, but it is pretty entertaining.

Shudder by Alice Fox
This is a cute little graphic novel-like piece that involves an exiled noble and the headless apparition of a minstrel who has a demon problem. The demons look like stretchy cats, which I suppose would be quite horrifying to see in person. After the demon problem is remedied the exiled man can stay in the castle and you can cue true love's first kiss, or something like that.

Mondeval's Heart by Rose Mambert
Ash and Tamaril are companions by chance or fate, but they are loyal to each other and prepared to die on their quest. Ash is human while Tamaril is a ferlik who is also Cursed with a powerful magic that can only be used at a high price. Tamaril trades his memories or blood for magic, use of the power in the past has destroyed his memory to the point that he doesn't remember even his original name. This story throws your from the heat of passion into the heat of battle and makes you wonder what all will be lost and gained once the fight is over.

Zombie Hunt by Danielle Renn
In a post zombie apocalypse world zombie infectee James Hunt protects a settlement of survivors in exchange for shelter and feedings of blood to sustain him. A young man named Evan who lives in the settlement latches onto Hunt and follows him around. Evan is quite curious and in awe of Hunt and wishes to forge any sort of connection that he can between the two because they have a relatively simple past, and within the settlement connections between people are not as simple as they seem. In this world the ugliness of the created society in the settlement is hidden behind the fa├žade of civilization. Evan's actions indicate that he is looking for a sort of salvation and an escape from the settlement, but how far away can he get? And at what price?

The Hollow Hills of New Hampshire by Frank Muse
This was an amusing horror story about a young man named Derek who becomes the owner of a brownie--a short, hairy, naked house elf of lore. (Side note: brownies creep me out already and I rarely encounter them in my usual reading...so that got to me right away.) At first the brownie makes sure the apartment is clean, food is prepared and the place is comfortable to the point of creepiness, but then he starts to cause a bit of trouble when he panics at the realization that his new owner really has no interest in women or reproduction...and the Brownie kind of needs him to have an heir in order to survive.

This Won't Hurt a Bit by Thomas Kearnes
The narrator first hooks up with a guy named Harrison, and is annoyed by Harrison's show of consideration over whether or not he was enjoying their encounter. Soon after that the narrator admits that he's used to getting in between couples and at the moment is trying to be involved with Blake, who is already living with Sam. Blake and Sam are a train wreck of a relationship, but Blake has obvious feelings of complacency and fatalism towards his situation. When the narrator is given a slight chance with Blake it isn't quite what he expected, but from that he garners a sort of revelation.

 The Golem of Rabbi Loew by Johnny Townsend
As I read this I noticed that the pacing of the story feels similar to a biblical story. I enjoyed this retelling of The Golem of Prague, and found it easier to read then the version of the original story that I was supposed to read for a Survey of Jewish Culture class. Anyway, the golem in this story not only defends the Jewish population of Prague, but also serves as a companion for Rabbi Loew who feel that his desires for other men would lead others to sin, but since Joseph lacks a soul there's no concern for him sinning. The story is quite bittersweet.

Fools in Love by Chelsea Crowley
Gus, the court jester, insults the court wizard, Horatio Metorimax, and as punishment the jester is forced to assist him in order to better appreciate the wizard's work. Horatio is surprised to find that he can relax around Gus and they both get along better than expected. Gus turns out to be a more complex character than he initially seems and he confesses that he has been hurt by magic before. This is a cute story and I enjoyed the explanation of Gus's background, and I think Horatio learned a lot from Gus.
Super Love by Chris Helton
This story deals with the everyday frustration of dating a super hero, which is a profession with a highly irregular schedule. Odd schedules are a rather relatable feature of relationships in general, and I enjoyed seeing how Maddex tried to bridge that divide in order to spend more time with Greg.
Starpoint Rendezvous by E. Craig McKay
Simon and Jeremy work together as prospectors and play together in the Melia Starpoint space hotel that can provide all varieties of tantalizing sexual experiences. They spend most of the story indulging in what each other, and the hotel, has to offer, but also discuss their newly joined business endeavors and the trouble of transporting asteroids. I must admit that my mind kept wondering off while reading this story because I kept imagining what all could possibly be at such a hotel. So, I generally enjoyed the lazy, sexy and indulgent nature of this tale, and the excitement of the trials of hauling asteroids through space kind of took a backseat to the entertainment at the hotel.

Color Zap! By Sam Sommer
The Genofacility allows two people of any gender to have children, and produces those children in a regulation manner in which they are prepared for a drab world, but Spencer was born with periwinkle blue hair. His parents force him to cover his hair with a hat, and then begin shaving his head as he gets older. He decides for himself that he wants to show off his hair, but on his first time out in public he is given an unfair amount of abuse. He soon finds more people with colorful hair including his boyfriend, Gavin, who has bright green hair. The people with brightly-colored hair form a society to promote the acceptance of them in the general population. I found the story interesting and inspiring and think it was a good note to end the anthology on. The feeling I got from this story was that even though some progress is made there is still room for equality, and sometimes different groups get left behind during the quest for acceptance.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting that anthology of gay fiction, many I was unaware of.

    This is an early comment but I just wanted to say “Thank You” for letting me be included in your Hop Against Homophobia. I am afraid I am not a talented m/m fiction writer like yourself but I am an avid reader of it.

    I guess I do not fit into any category really since I write non-fiction for an adult gay studio.

    But this is a cause I feel strongly about and I wanted to let you know I appreciate the opportunity to be included.

    I put a post up at the top of my blog on May 5th and it will remain up until May 19th. http://shadowsterling.blogspot.com/2012/05/straights-and-international-day-against.html

    Since I do not write books I will be donating money to PFLAG here in the U.S. in the name of the winner.

    Thank you again for the inclusion.