I recently read and actually enjoyed an erotic novel, A Witch's Beauty by Joey Hill, in which the hero is an angel with Colgate-like red and blue blood, the heroine is a tentacled mermaid whose angst is that half her body was eaten by fish and her mom was raped by the Devil, the sex involves a kinky angelic dildo dagger, and the conclusion involves zombie dinosaurs.

(Don't vote if you already know!)

[Poll #1411613]
I recently read and actually enjoyed an erotic novel, A Witch's Beauty by Joey Hill, in which the hero is an angel with Colgate-like red and blue blood, the heroine is a tentacled mermaid whose angst is that half her body was eaten by fish and her mom was raped by the Devil, the sex involves a kinky angelic dildo dagger, and the conclusion involves zombie dinosaurs.

(Don't vote if you already know!)

[Poll #1411613]
The package sent to Rachel Ninja Brown, from [livejournal.com profile] telophase, contained a romance in which the hero is secretly a unicorn. Thank you! Maybe.

The actual contents of the other packages were:

1. Elk, venison, and buffalo jerky, from [livejournal.com profile] telophase. OM NOM NOM.
2. A romance novel in which the hero is an angel and the heroine is a tentacled mermaid, from [livejournal.com profile] oyceter.
3. A VB Rose pencil case and a Temari figurine, from [livejournal.com profile] octopedingenue.
4. An anthology of Armenian authors and another about Desi New Yorkers, from [livejournal.com profile] madam_silvertip.

Thank you very much, O angels of the postal service!

Things which I did not get, but would be very pleased if someone were to send them:

1. Three Norse sagas.
2. Books on Indian regional cooking and everyday life in Heian Japan.
3. A plushie “more special” Sasuke, if such a thing exists. (Probably.)
4. Shuriken

Things which I hope I never receive:

1. A head.
2. The oracular penis novel (explained in the same link as the unicorn dude novel)
3. Venom cock.

Things which, as far as I know, do not exist (but which I’d love to get if they do):

1. A romance about banshees.
2. A romance in which the hero is secretly a book in the heroine’s library.
3. A romance in which the heroine is an angel and the hero is a mermaid with tentacles. (I already read the one in which the hero is a non-tentacled merman and the heroine is a psychic violinist.)

Things whose receipt would bring me a mix of delight and horror:

1. A romance about Vikings. Somehow I suspect the heroines would be nowhere near as wonderfully terrifying as they are in the sagas! Though it would totally make my day, or possibly make me vomit, if the euphemism for male equipment was “halberd.”

Things which I sent to someone else:

1. A Naruto tie-in ninja energy drink, to [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks.

And now for the winner!

This was quite a difficult challenge. Only two contestants got more answers right than wrong (both by one.) The lucky winners, who may now prompt me to write them a piece of original or fanfic flash fiction, are [livejournal.com profile] tool_of_satan and [livejournal.com profile] suileach!
The package sent to Rachel Ninja Brown, from [livejournal.com profile] telophase, contained a romance in which the hero is secretly a unicorn. Thank you! Maybe.

The actual contents of the other packages were:

1. Elk, venison, and buffalo jerky, from [livejournal.com profile] telophase. OM NOM NOM.
2. A romance novel in which the hero is an angel and the heroine is a tentacled mermaid, from [livejournal.com profile] oyceter.
3. A VB Rose pencil case and a Temari figurine, from [livejournal.com profile] octopedingenue.
4. An anthology of Armenian authors and another about Desi New Yorkers, from [livejournal.com profile] madam_silvertip.

Thank you very much, O angels of the postal service!

Things which I did not get, but would be very pleased if someone were to send them:

1. Three Norse sagas.
2. Books on Indian regional cooking and everyday life in Heian Japan.
3. A plushie “more special” Sasuke, if such a thing exists. (Probably.)
4. Shuriken

Things which I hope I never receive:

1. A head.
2. The oracular penis novel (explained in the same link as the unicorn dude novel)
3. Venom cock.

Things which, as far as I know, do not exist (but which I’d love to get if they do):

1. A romance about banshees.
2. A romance in which the hero is secretly a book in the heroine’s library.
3. A romance in which the heroine is an angel and the hero is a mermaid with tentacles. (I already read the one in which the hero is a non-tentacled merman and the heroine is a psychic violinist.)

Things whose receipt would bring me a mix of delight and horror:

1. A romance about Vikings. Somehow I suspect the heroines would be nowhere near as wonderfully terrifying as they are in the sagas! Though it would totally make my day, or possibly make me vomit, if the euphemism for male equipment was “halberd.”

Things which I sent to someone else:

1. A Naruto tie-in ninja energy drink, to [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks.

And now for the winner!

This was quite a difficult challenge. Only two contestants got more answers right than wrong (both by one.) The lucky winners, who may now prompt me to write them a piece of original or fanfic flash fiction, are [livejournal.com profile] tool_of_satan and [livejournal.com profile] suileach!
Cat and Jax are private investigators, bad-ass martial artists, and exes. Though their marriage failed because of their inability to cope with their traumatic pasts, they still work beautifully together and have sizzling sexual chemistry. When they get hired to investigate the leaders of a cult - former conjoined twins Tomo and Joy, who have poorly defined psychic powers that may involve ectoplasmic tentacles - they must go undercover in the cult's sexual healing workshop for distressed couples!

Portions of this novel are just as excellent as it sounds. I am a total sucker for the "undercover at a leather bar/sex club/sexual healing retreat" scenario, and also love stories about bad-ass partners. And hey, not just psychic kids, but psychic conjoined twins! Steven Barnes, you just go on exploring your id - I will always be along for the ride.

Unfortunately, it's also sprawling and messy, often dissolving into overheated and hard-to-follow descriptions of sex and psychic experiences. It reads much like an early attempt at the much more successful Charisma (and has a cool link with the also more successful Blood Brothers.) I wouldn't recommend this to start with, but if you already like Barnes, it's worth a read.

Warning for violence, sexual abuse, racial slurs, and a brief but memorable instance of anal tentacle rape.
Cat and Jax are private investigators, bad-ass martial artists, and exes. Though their marriage failed because of their inability to cope with their traumatic pasts, they still work beautifully together and have sizzling sexual chemistry. When they get hired to investigate the leaders of a cult - former conjoined twins Tomo and Joy, who have poorly defined psychic powers that may involve ectoplasmic tentacles - they must go undercover in the cult's sexual healing workshop for distressed couples!

Portions of this novel are just as excellent as it sounds. I am a total sucker for the "undercover at a leather bar/sex club/sexual healing retreat" scenario, and also love stories about bad-ass partners. And hey, not just psychic kids, but psychic conjoined twins! Steven Barnes, you just go on exploring your id - I will always be along for the ride.

Unfortunately, it's also sprawling and messy, often dissolving into overheated and hard-to-follow descriptions of sex and psychic experiences. It reads much like an early attempt at the much more successful Charisma (and has a cool link with the also more successful Blood Brothers.) I wouldn't recommend this to start with, but if you already like Barnes, it's worth a read.

Warning for violence, sexual abuse, racial slurs, and a brief but memorable instance of anal tentacle rape.
I was shocked and saddened to hear that veteran sf writer Octavia Butler had died, from a cause variously reported as a massive stroke or head injuries following a fall. She was only 58, and I'm sure she had a lot more stories to tell.

Her stories and novels, though many of them used old sf concepts like time-travel, psychic powers, or aliens taking over Earth, had such a unique perspective, clear style, thought-through implications, and intensity that they always read as fresh and new as if she had invented sf from scratch.

She returned to some of the same related themes and situations again and again in different contexts, which were slavery and the psychology of master-slave interactions, and how people live with insoluble problems and dilemmas where no choice will create a perfect world. Her stories could be depressing, but not always; they were always unsentimental, well-characterized, and smart.

My favorites of hers are two novels, Wild Seed and Dawn, and a collection of short stories, Bloodchild and other stories.

The latter is a must-read and also a good entry point to her work. It only contains five stories, but three of them are masterpieces, simultaneously more intense and more uplifting than her novels, and bursting with startling sfnal ideas. "Bloodchild" is horrific and moving novella about humans in a complex slave-symbiotic-loving relationship with their alien owners/symbiotes/family. It encapsulates her favorite themes, and is simultaneously a sweet love story and a intensely creepy horror story. "Speech Sounds" is a very brief story that punches way above its weight, the only story I've ever read in which humans lose the ability to communicate through written and spoken language. "The Morning and the Evening and the Night" is about the cost and unexpected benefits of a horrible genetic disease. I don't find these stories depressing or nihilistic, but they're all pretty disturbing in one way or another.

Wild Seed is an excellent sf novel set in Africa, about two "Wild Seeds": Anyanwu, a woman who can shapeshift, heal herself, and who seems immortal, and Doro, who switches bodies when he chooses or when the one he's in dies, killing his hosts in the process. Doro starts breeding people for psychic talents, a program which Anyanwu, at various times his enemy and his companion, tries to stop or ameliorate. The characterization is as vivid and believable as the landscape.

This features a common theme of Butler's, which is the unsolvable dilemma, and how people learn to live with it. When her novels set up a really big problem, they rarely have someone pull a scientific or any other sort of simple solution out of a hat. In this case, Doro cannot be killed, period, no escape clause, and is about Anyanwu's attempts to find a way to deal with an extremely powerful, immortal, and invincible enemy. There are chronological sequels which were written earlier and are not as good.

Dawn is about an alien takeover of a post-apocalyptic Earth. The aliens, their culture, their interactions with humanity, and the ways that the surviving humans try to deal with their situation are all beautifully depicted and cleverly imagined. The sequels to this one are good and worth reading.

The Parable of the Sower and its sequel, about a post-apocalyptic America and a female Messiah, are well-written but so close to reality that they are too depressing for me to re-read.

I have not yet read Kindred or Fledgling.
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