Hard Core Logo's Billy Tallent takes in a bit of light reading

Some Slashy Books That Leap to Mind

 

Every once in a while someone on a list asks about books with slashy content. Since I entered slash fandom because a friend I kept lending homoerotic books to in college suggested I check out some slash sites online, I figure I could help on a list of books. The broad majority of these are science fiction/fantasy because thatís what I read outside of fandom. Some of these are probably out of print, but if you run into them....

* Sexual tension and/or love recognized by at least one member of the party
^ Slashy vibe but unacknowledged by the characters. You know, like where the men involved still chase women and claim they feel only a brotherly/comradely bond. Right.

 

Authors of Special Mention

C.J. Cherryh: My favorite author. 90% of her books have a slash vibe. It throbs between so many of her male characters. Add angst, stir well. And I just have a thing for tortured men who think too much, as well as Cherryhís sociological dissection and intriguing aliens. These are the slashy books I consider best and most notable.

* The ironic thing about the acknowledged couples of Cyteen is that they have the least heat of her slashy characters. Intriguing plot about the nature of genius, identity, love, and treachery, though. (sf)

^ In the Morgaine Cycle [Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, Fires of Azeroth, and Exileís Gate], Vanye USTs with everyone he meets, but especially with his half-brother Erij and his cousin Roh. To make it kinkier with the cousin, Roh looks almost exactly like him. Vanye suffers beautifully and gets injured constantly.
Gate of Ivrel was also partially rendered in graphic novel form and can be bought directly from C.J. Cherryh. For reasons Cherryh explains far better than I could, the series didn't go far past the characters' escape from Leth, so the slashiest stuff was yet to come. Though we do get to see Liell manhandle Vanye a bit. I have the two graphic novels and highly recommend them. You can even get them autographed. They link the Morgaine series into Cherryh's main universe more explicitly, and Jane Fancher's artwork is highly expressive. Her Vanye is as young and pretty and somehow stubborn looking as you'd expect him to be. I think the cheekbones and nose have something to do with it. Jane Fancher's informative and often funny notes and sketches about the project can be found here. (fantasy with some science fiction elements)

^ For Faery in Shadow, you can only watch in disbelief at how charged the relationship between Caith and the pooka Dubhain is. Dubhain is such a tease. Caith being utterly damned and miserable makes it tastier. (fantasy)

^ Rusalka, Chernevog, and Yvgenie show a deep bond between Pyetr and Sasha. I keep wanting Pyetr to care more. Sashaís one of my favorite characters. (fantasy)

^ In the Foreigner Universe, when Jase Graham shows up in Invader he messes up Brenís already complicated loyalties. There are moments in Precursor when the charge is so high that youíre dying for them to touch one another.... In Explorer, Bren says that Jase is like another brother. Yeah, sure. Bren doesn't think about his actual brother Toby the way he does about Jase. This is a great series about the perils of First Contact and assuming that humans would vote as a bloc. Hell, the ship humans are almost more alien to the planet humans than the alien race they uneasily share the planet with. This is also a rare series in which diplomacy is almost as important as violence in settling matters of contention. Consists of Foreigner, Invader, Inheritor, Precursor, Defender, and Explorer. But I didnít feel that Inheritor was up to Cherryhís usual standard, and Defender was more of a set-up to the next book to come than a book on its own. (sf)

^ I know not everyone would see unresolved sexual tension in Heavy Time and Hellburner, but I really think there are times when Pollard is sublimating lust under his frequent desire to beat the crap out of Dekker. <g> [recently these two novels were collected in a single edition called Devil to the Belt.] (sf)

^ Tristen and Cefwyn. Mmmm. Poor Tristen, since itíll never happen. [Fortress in the Eye of Time, Fortress of Eagles, Fortress of Owls, Fortress of Dragons, and more coming.] (fantasy)

 

Jane Fancher: In the two series Iíve seen from her, both have open, acknowledged m/m relationships. The books read fast, though the angst level of her characters can get over-the-top high.

* Groundties, Uplink, and Harmonies of the ĎNet have the angstiest boy of them all, Stephen Ridenour. So pretty, so intelligent, so utterly fucked in the head. Wesley Smith can be fun and annoying. (sf)

* Ring of Lightning, Ring of Intrigue, and Ring of Destiny have a huge cast and a lot of intrigue. Mikhyel is the second angstiest boy of them all. Unfortunately, for me things started going wrong in this series near the end of the second book. The third book didnít do much for me at all. (fantasy)

 

Tanya Huff: 75% of her characters are bi -- main and supporting characters -- and matter-of-fact about it. Of what Iíve read:

* Fireís Stone is one of my favorite books. You so want Aaron and Darvish to get together and be happy. Great characterization too. Chandra could have been obnoxious in different hands, but here sheís just young and defensive. (fantasy)

* Fifth Quarter is one perverse little book. Fun, though. A sibling team of assassins gets caught together in the sisterís body chasing after the brotherís stolen body. The brother and sister want one another. The sister wants to do the guy whoís in her brotherís body. Her brother wants them to do the guy too, but he wants to get him to vacate afterward. * The Quartered Sea is also slashy and features Bannon, the brother, but it's not any Bannon I know, and the book wasn't as successful with me. (fantasy)

^ The Last Wizard has some moments where Raulin and Jago, brothers, think things of one another that strike me as other than brotherly. Raulin gets excited imagining the woman he loves and the brother he loves all physically entangled with one another.... [recently reprinted as part of a mass market paperback edition including the first novel Child of the Grove. The mass market edition is known as Wizard of the Grove.] (fantasy)

 

Melissa Scott: Every book she writes has at least one same-sex couple as well as some interesting science fiction plot ideas. My favorites are * Dreamships and its kind of sequel, * Dreaming Metal, which illustrate the potential and perils of artificial intelligence and asks whether people could ever be ready for it. Unfortunately, she sometimes stints her characters and just stops her books instead of ending them. What she did and didn't do with the m/m couple in Night Sky Mine annoyed the hell out of me. Her book sharing methods of inspiring science fiction plots in herself, Conceiving the Heavens, is one of the few author-on-writing books Iíd ever recommend.

Melissa Scott also writes fantasy with Lisa A. Barnett at times. Everybody I know loves * The Armor of Light, but it didn't work for me. Maybe it's that I didn't really care for any of the characters. In an alternate, magical Elizabethan era, several people, such as Kit Marlowe, didn't die as they did in our past and are instead pressed into service by the queen to save England from an evil growing in Scotland. Marlowe faces some temptations in male lovers past, present, and demonic. I enjoyed the series containing * Point of Hopes and * Point of Dreams much better. Mystery/police procedurals taking place in a meticulously crafted city, they have many interesting characters, but the main protagonists are Rathe and Eslingen, who are working their way through their relationship even as they're trying to solve crimes. The city has its own history and sense of place, which makes it feel very real, and the way that crime solving often involves a knowledge of astrology and magic adds a new wrinkle.

 

Poppy Z. Brite: Itís rare to find straight people in her books. I know some readers are very devoted to her, but I find her a guilty pleasure, one I enjoy while Iím reading but get a bad aftertaste from afterward. Somehow, plot twists that involve two people deciding to do Ďshrooms in a homicidally haunted house donít make sense when you think about them.... The way that female characters, if they even show up at all, usually die horribly isnít endearing to me either. Iím fond of Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, and a short story collection that can be found under two different names: Wormwood or Swamp Foetus. Exquisite Corpseís courting serial killers were fun, but I hated everybody else in the book and didnít even like the killers very much. (horror)

 

 

Books (in no particular order)

* Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Everybody recommends this one, and for good reason. Witty dialogue, intrigue, the obvious love, and the alluringly mysterious and self-destructive Alec are my major reasons. The way people talk to one another as if they're fighting with edged weapons appeals to me too. Itís well-written, of course. I think I ran through this in a few hours. (fantasy)

* The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. It takes place in the same universe as Swordspoint, just a few decades on, but if you're expecting another Swordspoint, you'll be disappointed. It's well-written, but the dialogue doesn't have that same sharp crackle of a duel, the characters aren't as sympathetic, and there's no grand passion. Still, it's interesting, and several characters are ambisexual. (fantasy)

* Luck in the Shadows, Stalking Darkness, and Traitorís Moon by Lynn Flewelling. A whole slash fandom has risen from this series, which features a bonded couple that basically does the fantasy world version of spy work. I think the first book is by far the best. (fantasy)

* The Bone Doll's Twin and Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling. According to a divine prophecy, as long as a queen rules in Skala, the land shall be well, but an usurper king has taken over and is slaughtering all female heirs to the throne to cement his and his son's reign. To save the true heir, dark magic is used to transform her, at least outwardly, into a boy, and she is raised as one. But eventually he/she starts to find him/herself attracted to a boy companion, and the physical changes of adolescence are causing other problems, especially as Tobin becomes more of a girl on the inside the older he/she gets.... (fantasy)

^ Lord of the Fire Lands by Dave Duncan. Okay, most of the Kingsí Blades books have a slashy vibe due to the Blades being soulbound to the people they have to bodyguard, but this one struck me as above and beyond. It also gets points for having one character wonder how his people will react when he brings his Blade bodyguard, a much younger boy, home as his companion. (fantasy)

^ Igniting the Reaches, Through the Breach, and Fireships by David Drake. This series features a love so powerful, so obvious, so total... so never going to be consummated the way a slasher wants it to be. *sigh* (sf)

* Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Duh, people. <g> (What genre could you classify this book as?)

* The Stone Prince and The Painter Knight by Fiona Patton. The slash is much closer to the surface in The Painter Knight, and I think itís the better book too. * The Golden Sword is also slashy, but its flashback-within-a-flashback structure makes it impossible to follow in places. Sometimes I had no idea what year it was. (fantasy)

* Lionís Heart and Lionís Soul by Karen Wehrstein. Pretty matter of fact. Everybodyís doing everybody, it seems. Plus, war and torture and gladiator stuff and Angst. (fantasy)

^ Oscar & Lucinda by Peter Carey. Itís only a subplot, and I have to warn you that all the characters make stupid decisions, which life then punishes them severely for. The ending struck me as so unnecessarily cruel that I wanted to throw the book across the room. Fair warning. (historical fiction, Booker Prize-winner that shouldnít have been)

* The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Of course. And I think Louis had some unresolved sexual tension for his brother, a feeling that crystalized for me during the Interview With the Vampire nightmare sequence in which we discover that Lestat and Paul look a lot alike.... (horror)

^ Under the Eye of God and A Covenant of Justice by David Gerrold. The Markham brothers go beyond brotherly love no matter what they think. (sf)

* Knight of Ghosts and Shadows and * Summoned to Tourney by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon. An m/m/f relationship, but I mainly read hoping that Eric would realize how badly Beth and Kory were using and disregarding him, then leave them. Of everyone he knows, the half-elven sorceress trying to suck his power away treats him best, and thatís sad. Your mileage may vary. I've read the next two books, Beyond World's End and Spirits White as Lightning, written by Lackey with Rosemary Edghill instead of Ellen Guon, in the series, but since they don't have any slashy moments they don't get their own mention here. I also suffered from the urge to throw these two books against the wall since they're so obnoxious, especially when Beth and Kory show up. (urban fantasy)

* Magicís Pawn, Magicís Promise, and Magicís Price by Mercedes Lackey. This series definitely has its sweet moments, but the angst can get over-the-top. Demerits for following what I call the Valdemar Formula:

  • Misunderstood child abused by family is rescued by a Companion and taken to Valdemar.
  • Child is similarly misunderstood at first by the Heralds.
  • Heralds realize the child was abused.
  • Heralds pity child and defend child against detractors once they realize all the odds and people against the poor thing.
  • Child finds fulfillment and self-worth through ostentatious self-sacrifice.
  • Child discovers that people at home only abused him or her out of love and misunderstanding (!!!!).

  • The second book strikes me as a dud.
    Many of Lackey's Valdemar books feature supporting characters involved in same sex relationships which get varying degrees of exposure, but The Last Herald Mage series is the one that has this at the forefront. (fantasy)

    * An Exchange of Hostages, Prisoner of Conscience, Hour of Judgment, and The Devil and Deep Space by Susan R. Matthews. In an intriguing future, torture is an accepted part of the judicial process, and Andrej Koscuisko, a surgeon, discovers a taste for the torturerís art that sickens him. Itís his very empathy that makes him great at it. His personal slave develops a love and devotion to him after he treats the man with affection and total respect. In fact, a few members of his staff do. This series can be deeply disturbing but is hard to put down once you start it. But Andrej may strike some people as a Mary Sue. (sf)

    * Dreamer by Steven Harper. A few star-spanning empires use the Dreamtime for nearly instantaneous communication. Some people, known as the Silent, are born with the genetic gift to access the Dream in this manner. Now an extremely gifted Silent has been discovered, and everyone wants him. Is he the Dream's salvation or destruction? This book is here for the estranged Ben and Kendi, with Kendi being hopeful that the estrangement is temporary. Sometimes it's very obvious in its status as the first book the author has published, especially when the narrative drops dead to describe characters' appearances. I also had a problem in that the characters struck me as being very self-serving, even the supposedly altruistic ones, and lacking in empathy for people who aren't them, the last of which is ironic given how important the quality of empathy is in the story. Your mileage may vary. (sf)

    * A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson [A Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book]. Written by the actor who plays Garak, this book is Garakís history revealed at last. I always did have a feeling that Robinson had a whole past in his own head as he played the mysterious Cardassian. And there is unresolved sexual tension here as Garak writes Julian Bashir an account of his past and Cardassiaís present. Unlike so many media tie-in novels, in which nothing of the status quo as seen on the shows can be affected, there's a feeling here that anything can happen or be revealed, that the writer was given an unusual freedom. (sf media tie-in)

    * Killing Time by Della Van Hise [A Star Trek: The Original Series book]. I couldn't believe how slashy this book is. A Romulan plot imposes an alternate universe over our own. Captain Spock and a traumatized Ensign Kirk have to figure out that something is wrong, then figure out how to fix things. First Spock has to earn Kirk's trust.... The sexual tension just about crackles in what amounts to a hurt/comfort AU story. (sf media tie-in)

    * The Hall of the Mountain King, The Lady of Han-Gilen, A Fall of Princes, and Arrows of the Sun by Judith Tarr. The Lady... is slash-free aside from a brief mention of a relationship, but the others are a feast of it, though only Arrows of the Sun resolves the sexual tension in the way a slasher wants, even if A Fall of Princes teases and teases and teases.... Spear of Heaven, the final book, has no slash, nor any interesting characters at all, but the rest of the series is grand high fantasy, full of dangerous love, high intrigue, vengeance, and empire building. (fantasy)

    * The Isle of Glass, The Golden Horn, and The Hounds of God by Judith Tarr. The Isle of Glass is the slashiest book in The Hound and the Falcon series, with Richard the Lionhearted finding himself utterly attracted to Alf, the changeling monk who comes to meet with him for political reasons. Richard is apparently famous for his weakness for a pretty face. Yep, this series is the Crusades, only with magic and elves, but it's much better than that sounds, and it's a past that feels very realistic and lived in. But some readers may find the self-tormented Alfred and especially Thea to be too Mary Sue. And, in my opinion, everyone is so smug at the beginning of The Hounds of God that I actually liked it when troubles started to plague them and brought them low. (historical fantasy)

    * Ars Magica by Judith Tarr. Hey, look, another book about a too-good-for-the-world man of God struggling to fit his magic in with his faith! It's interesting but not one of Tarr's best efforts. The way it skips past a few years here, a few years there, annoyed me too. However, it makes this list for Gerbert and Otto having a love-at-first sight meeting, with each seeing it as having found the other half of himself. The narrative says straight out that it had nothing of lust in it, but Gerbert is a man of the cloth with a vow of chastity. When another student, Richer, hears of it, his jealousy is a blatant thing. (historical fantasy)

    * The Will of the Wanderer, The Paladin of the Night, and The Prophet of Akhran by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Amidst the war of the gods, the stranded wizard Mathew fights to stay alive and sane in an utterly alien land. Having to also fight his desire for Khardan, something forbidden amongst the desert nomads Mathew now lives among, doesn't make anything easier. The irony of Khardan having to take Mathew as a wife to save Mathewís life--long story--only makes the situation harder for our wizard. (fantasy)

    * The Cage by S.M. Stirling and Shirley Meier. Megan Thanesdoom, backed by friends but mainly by her partner Shkai'ra, starts putting her plan to revenge herself on the enemy who'd destroyed her life in motion. In addition to being very frank about Megan and Shkai'ra's relationship and their other spouses of both genders, this book also features other same sex and multiple-partner marriages in a matter-of-fact manner. It's also an excellent story, as the reader is caught by the horror of what Habiku did to her, but also by the horror of what she wants to do to him in retaliation, the horror of how her life and ambitions have been twisted by him. Will her vengeance be enough for her to end it? Will she find peace at last?
    * Saber & Shadow and * Shadow's Son also show Megan and Shkai'ra at different points in their lives, while * Snow Brother (S.M. Stirling writing alone) features Shkai'ra before she met Megan, and all of them involve same sex relationships, but none of them were as good as The Cage. Just thought you should know. (fantasy, but with suggestions that it's a post-apocalypse fantasy environment. The post-apocalypse thing rarely comes up.)

    ^ Vampire$ by John Steakley (called Vampires in the reprints, especially after the release of the John Carpenter movie very loosely based on it). Macho men Jack Crow and Cherry Cat love one another deeply. They just donít want to look at the nature of it. This bookís writing style is occasionally obnoxious, but Crow and Cat kept me reading. (horror fantasy)

    * The Tempus stories [various short stories in the Thievesí World series; the Beyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, Beyond Wizardwall, and Storm Seed novels. There are other novels in the series, but they don't get a mention here.] by Janet Morris; Janet Morris & Chris Morris for Storm Seed. I donít get it. Niko is a pedophile and drunkard, a cowardly, arrogant junkie. Heís never met a person he canít somehow blame for his own stupidity. His inability to keep his pants on keeps bringing back his armyís most dangerous enemy. Yet everybody loves him and talks about what a great man and soldier he is. Including Randal, his much abused, neglected, and put-upon mage partner, whoís utterly besotted with him. Run for your life, Randal! As usual, I fell deeply for the character all the other characters denigrate and mistreat. But maybe Chris Morris is more sympathetic to Randal, because the mage comes out better in Storm Seed than in any of the stories written by Janet Morris alone. (fantasy)

    * Skin by Kathe Koja. Welder/metal sculptor Tess Bajac wants to put motion into her pieces. Bibi, a dancer and artist into piercings and scarification, helps her find a way. Tess, Bibi, and a growing collective of dancers, body artists, producers, explosive and effects experts, and demolitionists go on to create Grand Guignol horror show performance art. But tragedy and success strike, causing a spiral into self-torture and madness for all involved. An object lesson on how sometimes love isn't enough. But the narrative can be too self-consciously experimental at times. (psychological horror)

    * Winterlong: A Novel by Elizabeth Hand. In this hallucinatory novel, you get to see the disturbing (and ambisexual) remains of humanity irrevocably altered by genetic engineering. A girl and her beautiful long-lost twin brother are drawn to a green-eyed boy whose name is Death. (sf)

    * A Different Light by Elizabeth A. Lynne. Jimson has an incurable disease and a short lifespan. If he stays on Las Flores, he'd have twenty years. If he goes out a'traveling, he'll die in about a year. He chooses to travel. Part of it is to see new things and live before he dies, but part of it is to try to catch up with Russell, who left him 14 years ago. I have to say that I can't recommend this one, since the ending is wacky and things just happen in a lightly sketched-in way. To me it felt like an outline of a book. But your mileage may vary. (sf)

    ^ Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, and Crown of Shadows by C.S. Friedman. Pity priest Damien Vryce for his fascination with the immortal, evil sorcerer Gerald Tarrant. Wouldnít you feel the same in his place? But I hated the first book for what it did to a character I really liked. (fantasy with some science fiction elements)

    ^ The Legend of Nightfall by Mickey Zucker Reichert. Nightfallís been doing just fine for himself as a killer with no conscience. But getting bound to the naïve and occasionally endearing Prince Ned is doing endless damage to his view of the world and own self-image. (fantasy)

    ^ The Sun Sword series (so far The Broken Crown, The Uncrowned King, The Shining Court, Sea of Sorrows, and The Riven Shield) by Michelle West. There are some very intense relationships shown between women in this series, such as the depictions of Diora and the other wives, the flavor of Jay/Jewel's memories of Duster, and the bond that grows between Diora and Margret. Where Diora and Margret are concerned, Sea of Sorrows actually comes right out and says that they're not lovers, but there are things they do that make you feel that sex would be the next step. In The Riven Shield, the text says that the bond between Kallandras and Celleriant is like that of brothers, but it definitely doesn't feel like it. (fantasy)

    ^ Hunter's Oath and Hunter's Death by Michelle West. Stephen and Gilliam have unresolved sexual tension as huntsbrothers. The difference in class between them gives it an interesting dimension. (fantasy)

    ^ The various Eternal Champion books by Michael Moorcock. Am I the only person who sees slash between Jhary-a-Conel and the various incarnations of the Eternal Champion? I doubt it. (fantasy)

    ^ Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. A light-hearted look at the Apocalypse. Crowley and Aziraphale feel a lot like a couple to me, and they did to torch as well. (humorous fantasy)

    * American Gods by Neil Gaiman. A few, short, matter-of-fact moments here. Even aside from that, the story of a man who gets yanked into the war between the new gods (like Media) and the old gods (like Anansi) in the United States is an interesting read. (fantasy in a real world setting)

    ^ Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It has angst, self-torment, insanity, big emotions in the Russian tradition, murder, and a protagonist who's so lost that he wakes up under bushes in the morning with no idea of how he got there. Be surprised, as I was, by the strong female character of Dounia, Raskolnikov's sister, who's been overlooked by literary critics for over a hundred years in favor of the cardboard whore-with-a-heart-of-gold Sonia. Grin at the USTy crackle Raskolnikov has with Porfiry Petrovitch, Razumihin, and Svidrigaïlov. The book is good eating, though it would have been much more effective ending at that scene in the police station. (classic literature)

    * Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky's first publication, a serialized story he never completed, also has angst, self-torment, insanity, and big emotions in the Russian tradition, but this also has the passionate love between two eight-year-old girls, Netochka and Katya. And I mean "passionate" in that there are caresses, floods of kisses until their lips are swollen, and abject misery when they're separated. (classic literature)

    * The Talisman and Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub. The fate of more than one reality is at stake, and Jack Sawyer's the person with the vision and talents necessary to save them. Thing is, he's 12 years old.... People find themselves helplessly attracted to him, but that attraction doesn't always express itself in ways pleasant to Jack. It's more blatantly at work in The Talisman, which is also the better book. (horror with some fantasy elements)

    ^ Kill the Dead by Tanith Lee. It was hard deciding what slash rating to give this since the characters do wonder aloud if Myal is after Parl Dro from desire, but Myal says he isn't. Turns out that Myal's right, even if at first he doesn't know why he's after Dro. But it sure feels like unresolved sexual tension. The epiphany bit about why Dro's here and who he is to Myal didn't work for me, because even the use of an unreliable narrator doesn't make up for a complete lack of foreshadowing, but I loved Myal and the book's moodiness. (dark fantasy)

    * Sung in Shadow by Tanith Lee. A reimagining of Romeo and Juliet, this novel brims with sexual tension. Mercurio loves Romulan, and most of their scenes together crackle. Romulan climbs into Mercurio's room through the window not long after he climbs through Iuletta's, and he seems to love Mercurio more steadily and wholeheartedly than he does Iuletta. Benevolo admits to his love for Mercurio and everyone knows about it, while Saffiro loves Mercurio too but doesn't know what to call it and mistakes it for hero worship. Dueling is consistently compared to and depicted as sex. Susina's whorehouse features young women and men. As per Lee's usual, the novel has an dark, fevered atmosphere thick as poppy syrup and mines her favored territory of depicting the decadent lives of people so rich and jaded that they do horrific things to themselves and others just to make themselves feel something, though it features more violence (and sex-as-violence) than most of her novels. Plus you have the fun incest and a scene in which a man and woman pretty much rape one another. The ending left me shaking my head, though. (fantasy)

    * Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks. Amidst a nation's long-term struggle against occupying invaders, several characters also struggle to find themselves. The main themes are the healing power of finding forgiveness and common ground and the deforming power of hatred, jealousy, and pride. Considering that I'm not so forgiving, I thought that some of the plot resolutions came too easily, but your mileage may vary. The longing the pair at the heart of this story show is very satisfying, though. It struck me as funny that the only heterosexual relationship that gets much time devoted to it looks contentious and miserable, especially when compared to the tenderness and affection in the same-sex ones. (fantasy)

    * Starfarers, Transition, Metaphase, and Nautilus by Vonda N. McIntyre. While the main plot of this series involves the eventful voyage of the Starfarer, human and alien politics and pettiness actually dominate. The aliens and science are intriguing, but the fact that I wanted to slap several characters in these books did not make me happy. We have a marriage/partnership of several ambisexual people that is so dysfunctional that one or more members can be in serious mental trouble but the others are too self-involved to see it. (science fiction)

    * Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer. In a war- and plague-torn land, an unlikely leader is arising.... This book gets an entry here for the chaste but passionate relationship between Eliana and Mira and for Eliana's feelings for Lucia, but some things about it put me off. The setting is sort of Italy, but with magic. The oppressed religion is a lot like Christianity except that God is a woman and dancing is part of their worship. It seemed like a lack of imagination to me, but your mileage may vary. I'm not sure if I want to try the sequel, Turning the Storm. (fantasy)

    Slashy Novels Suggested By Other People

    M/M That Might Annoy You

     

     

    Non-Fiction

    Hard Core Roadshow by Noel S. Baker. Baker wrote the script for Hard Core Logo, a very slashy movie that's a mockumentary about the disastrous reunion tour of a punk band, and this is the diary he kept during the process of adapting the Hard Core Logo book into a screenplay, trying to secure funding for the movie, casting, and filming it. It's a tale of the setbacks, triumphs, insanity, and compromises necessary to getting a movie made, in this instance in Canada. He says that he saw Hard Core Logo as a love story about Joe Dick and Billy Tallent's twisted-up relationship. He also strongly implies that the actors who played them, Hugh Dillon and Callum Keith Rennie, were having a relationship in real life. Looking at the text, I also think that Baker had a crush on Rennie.

     

     

    Comic Books

    * The Desert Peach by Donna Barr (writer and artist). Thrill to the adventures of the Desert Foxís fictional pretty younger brother. Funny Nazis is not what this book is about at all. In addition to the humor and men occasionally doing one another you get tragedy and human drama, the absurdity and costs of war. And Rosen/Melvin so doesnít deserve Pfirsich. (historical fiction)

    * Dawn: Drama; Dawn: Luciferís Halo and Dawn: The Return of the Goddess mini-series by Joseph Michael Linsner (writer and artist). How many times do you get to see the goddess of rebirth in lingerie? Hey, Linsner is slowly moving out of his misogyny, which is a great relief to me since I can then enjoy his art without being so offended by his stories. Heís still too hung up on the Christian imagery, but heís moving to an "all faiths having the same core" vibe. But the slashiness comes from his gorgeous and heart-broken Lucifer, whoís still suffering from being kicked out of heaven and tossed away by the love of his life. To top it off, his lover has Dawn take even his halo away.... Thereís a kiss between Lucifer and... ah, Ahura Mazda, His identity whose name shall not be mentioned though we know who He really is, in Dawn: The Return of the Goddess #3 that I think you should see. (fantasy)

    * Top 10 by Alan Moore and Gene Ha. In a world in which everyone has super powers, your cops are super-heroes policing super-villains (and other super-heroes at times). And you have aliens and big robots and.... In its edginess, quirky humor, interesting characters, and go-for-your-throat depiction of crime, it's like Homicide: Life on the Street, only with costumes. Plus, numerous comic book in-jokes are thrown into the writing and the art. It's an entertaining series and an Eisner Award Winner, but it ends up on this page for Jackie being out and for the Captain's long-term relationship. (quirky superhero fiction)

    * The Authority. Almost everybody on the team is close to ambisexual, and Apollo and the Midnighter are very open about their relationship. Jane St Clair offers a helpful Who's Who in The Authority page with pictures to let you know who these people are and what they look like. (quirky superhero fiction)

    ^ Poison Elves by Drew Hayes (writer and artist). Macho as they are, Luse and Jace still vibe at each other. Then thereís the incomprehensible, woman-hating, but terribly funny Purple Marauder.... Though Hayes needs to check his spelling. Itís not a mark of authenticity or indie honor that you canít spell, guy. And if you name an issue "Nemesis," please oh please donít spell it "Nemisis." (fantasy)

    * Princess Prince by Tomoko Taniguchi (writer and artist). The premise was something I couldn't resist. In this one kingdom, one of a set of male twins is forced to pretend to be a girl to keep the kindgom at peace. It's prophecy-related. But it's even more messed up than that. The twin who gets to openly be male is also so pretty that one thief figures that the twins' secret is that they're both women and one must pretend to be a man. The thief, Brandon Walsh--I know--falls deeply in love with Matthew, thinking he's a girl pretending to be a man. Matthew accepts the wooing because... well, who knows his real reason. He accepts Brandon's fealty and mother's ring anyway. Lori/Lawrence is deeply in love with Jenny, who's confused that the princess she admires seems to almost be coming on to her sometimes. He wants to openly declare himself and win Jenny's heart, but he's not allowed. Lori/Lawrence is the twin who looks most like his mom, so his dad, who's forgotten that his "daughter" is actually his son, can get kind of...weird. Most of the men in Princess Prince are really pretty, but I don't mind.... Hey, it's romance manga. I found it to be insane fun. It kills me that the angel bird attacks with the background music of what we're informed is the G-Force theme song. There's more chibi art in it than I like, though. (romance manga fiction)

    * Clockwork Angels (Texas Steampunk II) by Lea Hernandez (writer and artist). I wanted to like it, but the line work and text were so shaky and/or faint in many places that at times I couldn't figure out what was happening. Or why. The plot involves Texas, jackalopes, reading the dead, and strange angels. Among other things. Still, I enjoyed the love and sexual tension between Temperance and Amelia. (historical, mystical fiction)

    * Shade, the Changing Man by Peter Milligan, with art usually by Chris Bachalo. You might have to dig through the used bins for this defunct series, but much of it is worth it. I picked up the series after the American Scream storyline, so I don't know what it was like then, but at its best it was a great slice of weirdness. Then in the Off the Road storyline, Lenny and Kathy started getting together.... Lenny was a great creation, a strong woman who always had a wisecrack or a line of bullshit ready, who held up cabs for fun, who usually had a gift for cutting through the crap. Unrepentant, fun yet also self-aware, she wasn't like anything I'd seen in a comic book before at that time (1992). She's the kind of person who could be caught in the act in bed with a friend's girlfriend in #26 and be utterly blase. And I do mean "in the act," since Shade, unable to hold his humanoid form, was the blanket they'd had sex under. Later on, her past started to catch up with her and she didn't deal with it well, but by then I felt that the whole series had derailed. Aside from the goodness of Lenny, Shade also played with dark humor (you have to see the Christmas issue) and gender fucks (the Shade the Changing Woman storyline, in which Shade, in woman form, to his shock, ends up having sex with a man and enjoying it).
    Peter Milligan also wrote a limited series called * Enigma, which I recommend as well. I think it was collected as a graphic novel. Our stuck-in-a-rut, nominally het but almost asexual protagonist looks for the answers to why someone claiming to be a super-hero from one of his boyhood comics has suddenly appeared, complete with super-villains, in the real world, and he ends up on a journey of self-discovery in the process. He never thought he'd fall in love along the way.... Like Shade, the Changing Man, this series could be too self-consciously weird at times, and I feel it made some missteps--I would have reacted to Titus' advances in the same way in his place, because they were way too forward, not because of some homophobic thing--but I recommend the series. (both are fucked-up, often surreal, sort-of super-hero fiction)

     

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