Good grief by Drew Gummerson – review

Title: Good Grief
Author: Drew Gummerson
Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, horror
URL: velvetmafia.com…

Part of issue 16 of the ‘Velvet Mafia’ ezine:
velvetmafia.com/index2.php

Other Information/warnings: well, in one way, it’s sick as fuck. In another, it’s funny and sad at the same time. Rude words and body parts (*lots* of body parts).

Summary (if relevant):

Everyone grieves in their own way. Some…a little more unusually than others
My review:

The narrator of ‘Good Grief’ has been denied the right to deal with his dead lover’s body in the way that he wanted. But he’s still determined to get it right.

This one takes reality and sends it out past Alpha Centuri/. It’s funny, it’s heart-breaking, and bittersweet in a way that mades you think – hard. Not a long story, but still powerful. One which will haunt me.

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Heron Feathers Fiction contest entries – review

Title: Heron Feathers Fiction Contest Entry archive
Author(s): Multiple
Genres: Multiple (romance, fantasy, real world, angst – hell, just read the damn things!)
URL: kiriko-moth.com…
Other Information/warnings: all but the last story, Mechanics of Fucking, are pretty tame, but there is some violence, and at least one story is a death story
Summary:
Ten entries were received in the Heron Feathers Fiction Competition.
Stories had to be based on or in someway inspired by the picture, ‘Heron Feathers’ by Kiriko Moth. There was a 10,000 word limit.My reviews:

Seven for a secret never to be told
by Audi

Terrence is a teenage boy, a foreigner going to an ex-pat school in London, disaffected, isolated and not enjoying life. His real love is art. That’s until he meets a Japanese boy who takes a fancy to him.

Not much to this story, and it suffers a little from an uncertain narratorial voice, some wonky English and some straightforward errors which should have been edited out. But the central imagery of the magpies is nice, and the two boys are sweet.

—————

Always Kissing
by Nikita

Two harems boys steal away for a few moments of illicit intimacy.

This story was one of the most directly inspired by ‘Heron Feathers’, and like that picture, is lush in its imagery and description. It captures the eroticism of a quick snog with one’s boyfriend without needing to be explicit, and yet we also get enough of the back story to be intrigued. A snapshot rather than PWP. A bon-bon, not a main course, but very nice notwithstanding.

—————

The Heron’s Feathers
by Megan Reiley

A tragic tale of love between slave boy and prince.

This one was the bleakest of the ten stories, and not surprisingly, readers seem to have gone for more cheery tales. Shame, really, because it’s beautiful in a sad way, and a fairytale with a bitter twist that really bites. It’s a well-written story I would love to see expanded, a brave idea of imagination, that took the harder path of not looking for a happy ending.

—————

Bonded
by Fancyfigures

Yet another slave boy/prince story. The slave has unusual powers, and the prince learns what a treasure he has found.

This was my own personal favourite from a strong group – though it’s not without flaws (the narrator describing his own hair colour is a pet peeve of mine). I just have this huge kink for cruel masters and put upon, badly used slaves, who somehow manage to transcend the barriers between themselves to unite and fight their enemies. It’s also romantic and not a little erotic, and the imagery is rich and interesting. Another I would like to see expanded.

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Beautiful Secrets
by Cassandra Bishop

A soon to be married prince and the man who has been sent to kill him.

This is technically the weakest of the ten stories, and badly needs an editor. Still, it’s a vignette with a good central and intriguing image. Much too short and uncertainly written to be truly good, I still think the author could work on it and improve it to advantage. I hope she does.

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The Same Again
by Chelsea Rye

‘His name is Daiei, and he was my enemy, because everyone said so. It became our custom, kick, punch, bite, whenever we met.’

This really is an extraordinarily imaginative work – fantasy and schoolboy romance, rolled into a vibrant whole that manages to capture the angst of otherness with the crap of being a teenage boy. Assured, strongly voiced, beautifully written, this is really publishable quality. Highly recommended.

—————

Bright Things and Birds
by Chelanyk Rhys

Another schoolboy in love story. A young artist has a crush on his best friend, and it sucks.

This needs to be a longer story, so we can spend more time with Kingston and Jae, but the bantering and teasing and emotions are very real, and the author doesn’t overstretch her material. A good self-contained little romantic yarn, that avoids sap quite nicely.

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The Sacrilege
by Quatorze

Two temple dancers in a dangerous, erotic encounter.

Another beautiful, imaginative work, strongly drawing on the imagery in ‘Heron Feathers’. Well-written, again, begging to be a longer story, but vivid and interesting, a window on a world that does not exist but might so easily. I loved the lack of sappiness, the intensity of the hate-love-whatever the fuck it is between the two main characters. Well worth a look.

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Not of a feather
by Megan (Bloodrose83)

Two young men are sent out on an initiation ritual. Only one returns – or does he?

Coincidentally, this is bleak like the other story by a Megan, but with a hint of hope. Maybe. It’s a story which demands attention, deliberately dream like and confusing, and very powerful. One to make you think, ‘What if’. Another strongly imagined work.

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The Mechanics of Fucking
by Manna

A private dick gets lucky.

Well this was the readers’ favourite, and it’s not hard to see why – it’s slick, it’s funny, the plot is self-contained, and it’s extremely well-written. I found it less compelling than Bonded, but that’s really like comparing two high-quality gems and deciding which is the more beautiful. I didn’t, strangely, care for the central sex scene or the ‘mechanical’ part that much – the author has set the bar for eroticism very high in her other stories, and this wasn’t up to her usual standard – but the two characters were wonderful, the plot twists kept me guessing, and once more, it was a great to play the ‘What if/what happened next?’ game with it. Another one of publishable quality, and even more extraordinary when you realise she knocked this out in twelve hours. Enough to make you hate a person, really πŸ™‚

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Going once by Mark Rudolph – review

Title: Going once
Author: Mark Rudolph
Genre: Sci/fi
URL: www.strangehorizons.com…
Other Information/warnings: none, unless the word ‘penis’ bothers you πŸ™‚
Summary:

In a future world, the dead have a value. And a twin must find a way to let go of his beloved brother.My review:

This is subtle, sad, spare – at first, apparently simple, but bears rereading. It’s about loss, missed opportunities, and second chances. The sparse prose reveals a story where the end, isn’t always – in several senses. Left me making a sequel in my head.

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Snow Day by Jennifer Pelland – review

Title: Snow Day
Author: Jennifer Pelland
Genre: Comedy/SciFi
URL: www.strangehorizons.com…
Other Information/warnings: Mentions of off-screen sex between a human and an android

Also – I found this rec in a slash recs database, but strictly speaking there is nothing at all to indicate the story is slash, as the gender of the narrator is carefully never stated or hinted at. The story is not labelled as slash/queer, so, it could actually be a het story – it works either way

Summary:
The owner of a very helpful android is snowed in, and learns a few useful things about the workings of the android mind
My review:
As I said above, I read this as slash – but it honestly doesn’t matter if it’s not, because it’s funny, clever and totally off the wall. To say too much would be to spoil it, but all I can say is that it beats everything Isaac Asimov ever wrote about robots, and possibly invents a fourth law of robotics while it’s at it. Short, witty, a perfect appetiser for something longer, if you’re in the mood.

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No hidden catch by Jenelin – review

Title: No hidden catch
Author: Jenelin
Genre: UST
URL: www.livejournal.com…
Other Information/warnings: none
Summary:
Meeting a childhood hero as an adult can be an interesting experience
My review:
Yet another Sensory Overload Ficathon story. A lovely insight into growing up gay, crushing on the unreachable…and then finding out that he might not be so unreachable after all. A short, sweet piece, understated and clever.

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Words are very unnecessary by Quatorze – review

Title: Words are very unnecessary
Author: Quatorze
Genre: Romance
URL: www.livejournal.com…
Other Information/warnings: It’s not explicitly stated it’s slash – the gender of the narrator is not mentioned. I’m assuming it’s slash because of the author’s other output.
The age of the narrator is also not specifed, but again, it’s a fair assumption that the person is above the age of consent. No explicit sexual content. Just kissing.
Summary:
A victim of violence finds a protectorMy review:

Another from the Sensory Overload Ficathon (and even though a lot of the stories are gen, or het, there’s still some fabulous writing to be found here:)
www.livejournal.com…

This could be slash, could be het. I’m choosing to see it as slash because the narrator sounds like a boy. But it’s less important than the fact this is a wonderful mood piece – we learn of the narrator’s sad and abusive past, and how he’s found someone who can see past his scars and his inability to speak. Rich, evocative, moving. Just bloody good.

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Grabbing hands grab all they can by Magpie – review

Title: Grabbing hands grab all they can
Author: Magpie
Genre: Modern, PWP, romance
URL: www.livejournal.com…
Other Information/warnings:explicit sex, laugh out loud humour πŸ™‚

Summary:
Thom’s not gay, but his boyfriend is.My review:
This is a real honey from the Sensory Overload Ficathon:

www.livejournal.com…

Thom’s a jujitsu master, hard as nails, and swimming so far up that river in Egypt, he just passed Abu Simnel. Joseph’s his best mate. And queer. And fancies him. Thom is bothered a lot by this, and by one aborted kiss which he fended off with his fists, but which he still can’t stop thinking about. Late one night, a little hand to hand combat…becomes something else. Hey, it’s a slash story! What do you think happened?

This is beautifully written, cuttingly funny and sharply observed, while also being erotic. The characters get you interested, the interactions are believable, and she has a delicious way with description. Go read, go beedback. She says "If you enjoy this, let me know. I’m halfway through a sequel. :)"

I know I’m up for that!

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Fallen by A M Riley – review

Title: Fallen
Author: A M Riley
Genre: Vampires, fantasy
URL: www.geocities.com…
Other Information/warnings: very gory
Summary:
A vampire on the streets meets a young man who is nothing at all like what he seems.My review:
I really don’t like vampire stories, but this one had something from the first few lines which intrigued me, so I continued. I was glad I did, but man, this one goes nowhere near where you think it’s headed – it’s a seriously odd story, but there’s something very beguiling about Stefan the street rat and Davie the…well, don’t want to spoil it.

The negatives are that the story could have done with a beta, and there are some blurgy POV switches which I really hate. The pace is dizzying too, but it’s one of those stories that sticks in your head and makes you think, ‘I wonder what happened after…?’ Not the best or most polished story out there, but well worth a look, if you can get over the squicks.

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Art by Heise – review

Title: Art by Heise
Genre: Romantic, non-explicit m/m art
URL: heise.deviantart.com…

Summary:
Very pretty boys, being sweet.My review:

I stumbled on this from a links page, and I’m so glad I did. Not many actual m/m pictures here, nothing explicit, but some absolutely gorgeous romantic art here. Try these:

www.deviantart.com…

www.deviantart.com…

www.deviantart.com…

Very high quality images, beautiful boys – I could stare at these all day.

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You and I and him by Rueger- review

Title: You and I and him
Author: Rueger
Genre: Romance
URL: grace-note.org/…
Summary:
"A wealthy twenty-something punk falls in love with a shy boy barely out of highschool with the dream of becoming a boxing championβ€”and the kid’s wild, smart-mouthed twin brother."My review:
First up, I have to confess – I disliked this story – nonetheless, it’s still worth reading because it’s well written, surprisingly well-characterised, and intriguing. I disliked it because I disliked the narrator, Jeremy, who’s intended to be unlikeable – he’s a spoiled, self-indulgent, whiny bastard who treats people like shit and manipulates people – and I like my narrators to be nice (my personal kink). But the two brothers, Vaughn and Gabe, make up for him – they’re real, vibrant and fascinating, and one of the two serious criticisms I have of this two is that the narrative ends before the real story gets going (this seems to be a feature of this author’s writing). I wanted to know so much more about these two, their backstory, what happened to them etc, and I felt cheated. Maybe the writer will come back to them. No idea. But like all good stories, it makes you care about what happens next.

The other big criticism is that the women in this story are cariactures, cruel harridans who are unworthy of the men they are trying to claw to their bosoms. I really hate that in slash – making women harpies so the men cling together out of a common need to protect themsleves. Jeremy’s mother just never felt real to me. But it might bother me more than it would bother other readers. I really think it’s worth giving a try, anyway.

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