May 26th, 2011

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Review: Bachelor Machine

The Bachelor Machine by M. Christian. Circlet Press, e-book, $7.99.

Reviewed by Gayle C. Straun

Readers of such erotic “classics” as The Life and Amours of the Beautiful, Gay and Dashing Kate Percival, the Belle of Delaware can perhaps be forgiven for imagining every representative of the genre to be a trite bildungsroman in which the narrator awakens to sexual maturity through a successive series of literally incredible erotic encounters featuring highest rate of simultaneous orgasm known to mankind. However, there has long existed another strain within the genre, perhaps best exemplified by the great Renaissance satirist and pornographer Pietro Aretino, whose Dialogues exhibit an awareness that sex is not so separate from social class and power, while at the same time expressing a deep and abiding sympathy for those who lack both.

M. Christian comes from the latter tradition of erotic storytelling, and his collection of short stories, The Bachelor Machine, marries action both hot and steamy with what the Japanese call aware, or “beautiful sadness,” all set in future worlds where the lines between man and machine, reality and illusion, necessity and desire have become blurred, forcing people to stake out their own identities. Unlike the characters in a Philip K. Dick novel, who regularly fret over what to take as “real,” M. Christian’s creations are much more at home with this ambiguity, be it the courtesan Fields in “State,” a human who dolls herself up as a robot for men who believe they are fucking something mechanical, or the eponymous “Bachelor Machine,” an old robot whore who pays human clients to come in, just so that she can feel needed once more. The author even skirts the boundaries of the consensual—but without ever indulging in tired rape fantasy—in such stories as “Bluebelle,” “Butterflie$,” and “Everything But the Smell of Lillies,” the last most notable for featuring a hooker wired so that clients can kill her and have their way with her, while she experiences everything, only to revive later and start it all over.

Imagine the stories of Anїas Nin dosed heavily with William Gibson, and you might approximate this collection by M. Christian. Sex, futurism, and narrative mix seamlessly rather than taking turns (now a bit of story, now a bit of tech, and now the sex you’ve been waiting for) as in so many erotic tales, underlying the truth that we never stop being sexual creatures, and we never stop being people of our time and place. Add to that the reality that we simply aren’t always successful, for these are the stories of both hackers and hacks, and the machinery with which they interact erases none of their humanity: the man who sells off his memories, one by one, to buy a few minutes with a favored woman, or the technophile who has his penis replaced with a state-of-the-art mechanical model but forgets to charge it before a hot date. Oh, the sex in The Bachelor Machine is amazing, to be sure, but the characters will haunt the reader’s thoughts long after they’ve passed out from orgasmic bliss.

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.