Monday, January 28, 2013

Introduction to Love Without Gun Control


Here's a bit of fun: the introduction to my collection of (non-smutty) science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories: Love Without Gun Control (out now in both 'e' and ond-fashioned paper from Renaissance E Books.



Congratulations on your purchase of the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine. Utilizing the finest in Hack Technology, we at Write Way guarantee that if correctly used and maintained the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine can give you years of successfully written introductions.

After removing the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine from its ecologically protective shipping container, place it in a convenient location where it will be away from direct sunlight, moisture, dirt or dust, or undue criticism. Next, attach the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine’s Driving Force inlet jack to the nearest source of creative energy. We are Write Way recommend a standard Emotionally Vacant Upbringing (EVU), or Societally Isolated Childhood (SIC) coupled with the optional Write Way Rare Parental Approval (RPA) module for efficient creative drive. Warning: Insufficient creative energy can result in repetitive, arrogant results (see Appendix A: MeMeMe Syndrome) or false modesty (Appendix B: Blush Syndrome).

After attaching your Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine to an available Driving Force, open the Inspiration Input panel located on the lower right section of the machine. Using a small, sharp instrument (such as your penis), activate/deactivate the appropriate DIPshit to assign the desired introduction inspiration input. Warning: Failure to activate the correct combination can result in various undesirable results, leading to arrest and criminal prosecution and/or Literary Awards.

Next remove the deebing support ring (located under the forelock wheel assembly) and carefully stipple the mantune cage until the blue light rotates into the green. With the loose pin in your left hand, then proceed to osculate the frandip to achieve maximum caustic relux feedback. If the frandip doesn’t achieve enough caustic relux feedback, consult the enclosed Troubleshooting Guide or kick the mantune cage wearing a size twelve steel-toed boot, aiming specifically for the wizzing input slot.
After the caustic relux feedback has been achieved, it is time to select the Editorial Interface Mask (EIM). Please note that three pre- set Editorial Interface Masks have been preloaded into the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine, specifically the Father Figure (FF), the Tyrannical Ogre (TO), and the Uninspired Hack (UH). If you are interested in other Editorial Interface Masks, the Automatic Introduction Writing Machine Upgrade contains ten others as well as additional viewpoint features such as Alcoholic Blurring (AB) and World-weary Cynicism (WC).

To fully utilize the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine’s Deadline Matching Feature (DMF) it’s important to configure the Irresponsibility and Compulsiveness scale, located on the back of the machine, next to the Frustrated Author Input (FAI) and the Destructive Relationship Exhaust Fan (DREF). Turning the pip knob to the left will increase the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine’s dependability in meeting responsibilities (real or imaginary), though it will also affect the Spontaneity Output Mechanism possibly resulting in a creative, if predictable, column. Reversing the pip knob will diminish predictability but can also result in what is commonly referred to as Deadline Lapse Syndrome, which has been proven to be a leading cause of Writer Termination (WT). Correct balancing of these two forces is integral to the correct operation of the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine.

While we at Write Way understand that even after utilizing the excellent technology embodied in our Automatic Introduction Writing Machine there are other, unknown factors that can affect Creative Output (CO) and Monetary Input (MI), we must still insist that payment for the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine be received within one month of delivery (depending on location and volatility of local delivery personnel). Failure to expedite payment will result in financial and physical penalties, possibly including fines, levies, liens, testicular removal, spinal rearrangement, dental extraction, and colonic impaction.

You are now almost ready to use your Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine to produce admirable and possibly noticable introductions. Before continuing, however, it is important to observe the three-stage Safety Feature Checklist (SFC):

• To ensure proper lubrication of the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine’s internal assembly, a fifth of cheap bourbon must be fed into the Inhibition GearBox (IGB) on a daily basis. If suitably cheap bourbon is not available, a bottle of cough syrup or rubbing alcohol can be used.

• If overheating occurs, the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine must be automatically switched into standby mode by turning the fiddle switch to the Moderate setting. This will cause the machine to “wheel-spin” until it cools satisfactorily. Failure to place the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine into this mode if overheated can cause the sensitive gibber line to vaporize, resulting at a ten x thousand foot-pound force explosion. This, naturally, voids the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine’s warranty, as well as any operator within three hundred feet of the device.

• Before final activation of the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine, the operator must completely fill out the attached Waiver of Responsibility (WoR), absolving Write Way of any damages – real, emotional, or imaginary – that the operator may experience during the operation of the machine. Failure to do so will result in the gibber line to vaporize, resulting at a ten x thousand foot- pound force explosion.

If you have followed these instructions carefully, you are now ready to use the Write Way Automatic Introduction Writing Machine and produce profitable and possibly entertaining columns for years to come. If however the machine fails to operate, place it back in its ecologically protective shipping container and return it to an authorized service center or convenient landfill.

If you are in need of an introduction in the meantime, we suggest that you simply retype this manual – god knows, manuals are just like introductions: no one reads them anyway. 

Rude Mechanicals



(via arosenlund)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rude Mechanicals



(via yippieskip)

Rude Mechanicals



Install by Matsuoka-Heshiro

Forum UK Loves Painted Doll

As part of my continuing celebration of the re-release of my cyberpunk/erotic novel, Painted Doll, here's a review of the book from Forum UK:


In an unnamed Japanese city of the near future, Domino is a highly sought- after erotist, who uses a combination of skilful words and paints loaded with unforgettable sexual experience. However, the icily perfect Domino is only a façade, an identity created to protect American Claire from a killer who is on her trail. Meanwhile, Claire’s girlfriend, Flower, has been sent to a hippy commune in New Zealand, also for her own protection. The girls only have their memories, which they share in increasingly explicit letters, to keep the relationship alive, but both live in hope that one day they will be reunited...

The Painted Doll is a dark erotic novel, set in a world where the United States as we know them have been destroyed and the only safe haven is the hi-tech world across the Pacific. M. Christian weaves a clever tale of love and loss, slowly dripping in the details of Flower and Claire’s back story as events builds to a startlingly unexpected conclusion. Domino’s sessions with her clients are designed to explore how large a part emotion plays in any sexual encounter, and as the men who visit her as manipulated to climax by her words and her paints, she begins to realise that it isn’t always the most obvious scenarios which will push anyone’s erotic buttons. This is one for lovers of speculative fiction, rather than the general reader, but it’s memorable and skilfully done.

Rude Mechanicals



Maeve -6 by sadakochan87

Monday, January 21, 2013

Patrick Califia Likes Rude Mechanicals

This is a very special treat: a blurb from the legendary Patrick Califia - a great writer and an even greater friend - for my technorotica collection, Rude MechanicalsThanks, Pat!



Here is the latest collection of M.Christian's insightful and original work. Fabulous! I have yet to read anything Chris has written without feeling that my own assumptions were challenged, and I was pushed to think about sexuality, politics, gender, and literature in a whole different way. There aren't enough people who can write from the polymorphous perverse perspective that he seamlessly adopts. He is a genuine ally of sexual minority communities and has walked the walk and talked the talk in dozens of different erotic and edgy experiences. If you'd like to expand your horizons and spread your wings (or your legs, or somebody else's legs), you couldn't have a better guide than the wise, wry, irreverent, and twisted M.Christian.
-Patrick Califia, author of Mortal Companion, Hard Men, and Macho Sluts.

The Monster and the Ape



(via monsterman)

The Monster and the Ape (1945)

Tanino Liberatore

 

(via bishopsbox)

RanXerox
by Tanino Liberatore (Italian / italiano)
taninoliberatore.com

Friday, January 18, 2013

Rainbow Reviews Likes Painted Doll!




Rainbow Reviews:
The first thing that stuck me about Painted Doll was the very mannered, structured and layered language; clause upon clause of dense evocative phrasing which could serve to push readers away, but instead drew me deeper into Domino's world. The effect is a little like standing on a beach with the waves of a rising tide lapping at your toes until you're standing calf deep without really having made the decision to get wet. 
The chaotic, dystopic future in which Painted Doll is set is expertly sketched amongst this layered detail. It is sufficiently fully realized to be concrete and real; sufficiently impressionistic to leave me with intriguing questions. I suspect the Ecole Polytechnique's creature may not be an obvious choice for a sequel, but the glimpses we're given into his/its mind really grabbed me. 
This rich, layered language also heightens the erotic scenes in the novel - both the artificial professional sessions, where Domino wields distilled emotions without so much as touching one finger to her male clients, and in the more innocent and earthy remembered sex she shared with her female lover, Flower. 
As a fan of the epistolary novel, it was an unexpected joy to find this vein of letter-based story telling running through this cyberpunk thriller. Although we never meet Flower directly, her character and her voice shines through. We only get to see the first flush of their love affair through the cracks in the masks of Domino's new life, but I could still see why they would fall in love, why it was worth risking so much to be together, which means that what happens to Flower as the story comes to an end really hits home. 
This isn't an easy romance, either in its plot or the reading experience, but it is a very strong, compelling story which drew me in, and which I will remember for some time. M. Christian masterfully slides between the different parts of Domino/Claire's identity, building and revealing the world, the character, the conflict at the heart of the story, and it's a grand ride.

Rude Mechanicals

 

World Builder



World Builder from BranitVFX on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rude Mechanicals



Oldie 3 by nunchaku

The Running



The Running by distritopapillon

Read (And Listen To) "Some Assembly Required" From The Bachelor Machine


As you (ahem) may have heardI recorded a reading of my SF story, "Some Assembly Required" from Love Without Gun Control

Just for fun, here's the story itself (pasted below). Enjoy!


Some Assembly Required

She hadn't thought about Mark in years – then, suddenly, she did. It wasn't something obvious, like seeing his face on someone else's who also had pale blond hair, like burnished steel, or eyes like amber marbles, but something swift and intangible, like a floating piece of consciousness you remember as not being fact, reality, but part of a dream half-forgotten.

Lisa had been standing in the warm sunshine down on Solano Avenue, walking back with her sister from seeing a movie – something with explosions and lots of male sweat, details already mostly forgotten. They'd parked far away, and chatted emptily as they marched back to Lisa's battered little sports car.

He'd had a tension about him sometimes, an almost tangible armor that would slip over him. The first time it had happened they'd fought later in the day, Lisa convinced on some level that she'd been the cause. It had happened, so quickly and without apparent cause and had lingered for hours, and he hadn't spoken a word about it. When the same had happened to Lisa, in other relationships, it usually meant anger at her, a stewing resentment just needing an impetus to release. Better, she'd learned, to get it out when she wanted to – beat the fight to the punch.

Hot, hard sunlight in her eyes and she replied mechanically to Shirley's polite sisterly banter. Why now – why think of that and Mark... now? The laughter of children in front of a nearby toy store, an old woman glacially making her way down the sidewalk in a mechanical walker, a burnished Latino man clipping branches from a tree in front of a doctor's office.

“Some people just shouldn't have children,” Shirley said, slipping into the passenger seat as Lisa absently hunted for the ignition. Lisa looked up, hunting for the source, and saw the three with the kids: two glowing parents, and a friend. The parents were young and sleek with their own kind of baby fat – the softness that Lisa had seen around her other friends that had the innocence and responsibility of children thrust onto them. “Luckily,” Shirley said, her eyes obscured by sunglasses, “other people can.”

Their friend wasn't sleek, wasn't soft. His hair was slightly greasy, his jeans rough and faded to threads in some places – and even though he was smiling with his friends and the children he had to accompany, his tension was obvious.

Lisa knew, that fragment finding it's place in her mind: the why of thinking of Mark. Yeah, some people shouldn't have children, but other people – good, kind people – were terrified of them.

****

It was night by the time she got back to her apartment, parking as usual in the darkness of the alley behind her building. After an afternoon with Shirley, Mark had faded into a cool melancholy – a lazy sadness about many things, old and nearly forgotten boyfriends only some of it.

At first she thought it was an insect, and fear/disgust/revulsion tingled up and down her spine. Then she thought it might be a toy – children being up way to late. Then she picked it up. Looking at it under the washed-out distant lights from the street beyond, she again thought specifically of one old boyfriend and brought it inside.

His breath had been hot – she remembered when it seemed about to scald her neck, how she'd felt she'd had to move – just a little – from under him, feeling it almost ready to burn her skin. He always seemed to have a bruise or two, looking like a swatch of grease on his angular body, from where he'd hurt himself at work.

The apartment seemed empty, cold – so she turned on the coffee machine and absently flicked on the set to keep her company. Her answering machine was beeping one, one, one in dark red – so she didn't play it, knowing it to be Shirley saying she'd be late for the movie.

The little machine wasn't a toy – it had a kind of patched-together, crude look to it. Putting it down on her kitchen counter it immediately started a hesitant exploration of its new environment. Smiling despite herself, she lunged to catch it as it neared an edge – only to have it pull away at the last minute. It had a couple of small motors, maybe scavenged from a toy after all. It had wire feelers, and a mysterious cluster of dark glass panels along its back. Its body seemed to be a piece of an old circuit board, the green material almost black in some places from being outside for a long time. It seemed to have eyes, as well, two discs facing forward. Yes, eyes, as she watched it hunted along her counter-top for light. It had a battery, a black box along its back, but must have fed, recharged, on what it could see – eating light through the flat glass panels on its back.

Also on its back was a cigar tube. Picking it up, Lisa shook it, hearing something inside. Carefully, she unscrewed it – and a tightly rolled sheet of paper came out.

****

Mark was very much in her mind. The gruff rumble of his voice, the deep avalanche of his laughter. For someone who saw tools as an extension of his self, he liked surprisingly subtle and sophisticated things. When he was crouched over some new machine, or under some behemoth of gears and engines, Bach chimed from his speakers. When he stopped to eat it was usually Sushi or Thai, and while he enjoyed watching things explode and men sweat on the screen he also had a complete Win Wenders collection and worshipped Jacques Tati.

The instructions on the paper were simple, straightforward. Even for someone like Lisa for whom Mark's terminology had been like listening to an ancient Asiatic language, she could understand it. It was also obviously a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy – the pattern of the diagrams in some places blurred by replication.

She stayed up for a long time, staring at the instructions and thinking about Mark, while the little machine patiently explored its new world – charging its battery from her kitchen lights.

****

The parts were surprisingly easy to find. Two trips to two different electronic stores. Cheap too – or would have been had she had some of the tools it required at hand.

Practicing with the soldering iron, she thought a lot about Mark. She built him, assembled him from memory as he sent curls of acid smoke up towards the ceiling: tall, thin – rough but not course, with a kind of mechanic's masculinity. Machines had been a special language for him, the key to a secret world of cause and effect. She remembered how his amber eyes glowed when he talked about some new project, some new device or construction – explaining to her innocence the philosophy of its gears, the beauty of its mechanisms.

She didn't have any photographs. No letters. They hadn't been together long – two and a half, maybe three years. She couldn't even remember why they'd broken up... exactly. She knew a lot of it was because of his passion, and her revelation that, at best, she'd only be the second most important thing in his life.

She burned herself, gesturing clumsily with the iron like it was a pencil or pen and not a very hot tool. The pain was like a flash in her eyes and she dropped it – luckily on the table and not on the carpet. After sucking on the inside of her finger when the iron had touched and almost crying, she breathed deep a few times and went back to trying to get enough with the unfamiliar tool.

That fight was very present in her mind. They had gone to a picnic with her sister, who'd been baby-sitting her friend's six-year-old. Mark hadn't made any noises when she'd told him about it, but that tension descended on him hard and fast whenever he was near the kid. Sally was a sweet girl, shy but very smart and with laughter that sounded like chiming bells. Still, Mark had been terrified.

Lisa hadn't known that – and so the fight: beat him to it, get it out in the open. For a long time he just stood there and let her run all over the place trying to figure out why he was so angry. Finally, he said something – and then something else, and then she started to understand. That night they'd made love – and it had been different. Passionate, yes, but also caring – an act to seal up a wound that had been opened.

When Shirley came over the next day she saw the mess of electronic parts scattered on her kitchen counter. “Toaster explode?” she joked, picking up something only three days before Lisa wouldn't have recognized.

“Just a hobby,” Lisa said, defensively, feeling as if Shirley had been picking through her bedside table, commenting on her method of birth control.

“Looks like something Mark would have put together – spit and bailing wire, couple of batteries and... viola, art. Too bad everyone else just saw it as some bailing wire and lots of spit.”

Mark hadn't called it art. He might have treated it that way, but he never called it that. “Yeah,” Lisa said, grabbing her purse, “but that's what he liked to do.” Then she said, not at all hungry, just to get her sister away, “let's get a bite, I'm starved.”

“You think about him... Mark – a lot.”

“Sometimes,” she said, gently moving her sister towards the front door.

“You weren't together all that long, and it weren't even with him when he, you know, passed away.” At the door, she paused. “Cancer, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, cancer–”

“He didn't leave much behind did he? I think you were the only person who knew him well – and that's not saying a lot.”

“No,” she agreed, locking her front door, “not a lot at all.” ****

She decided to build two of them. That way she could have some practice and not put too much pressure on herself to get the one-and- only done perfectly. She burned herself, twice more – but then felt like she was really getting a handle on the iron. Her nose tickled for a long time from the resin-reek of the melting solder, but then she started to enjoy it – it was like an incense from some distant, mechanical land. Something burned in Mark's church.

It wasn't hate that had tensed him that day in the park around dear little – it was responsibility. “I was scared. Damn, I hate that – that feeling. Like walking on glass. They're so fragile, you know. I know what that was like, how one wrong thing... well, it might not mean anything to me, but to them it could be how they see the world after. That freaks me out. I'm not ready to do it right, I guess – I'm too selfish. When I want to do, I want to do it right, to be there all the time for them – to really be there for them, to help them. Now, though, the responsibility scares me.”

“You just have to let go,” she'd told him, holding him close and feeling his breathing, hot breathing on the side of her neck. “Other people have the same fears, but they manage okay. You just have to learn to let go. It's how we go on – it's how you leave a part of yourself behind. You're just scared because you only want to leave the best of you behind.”

He'd nodded, his heavy body moving slightly, too, as his head did. “I know. I just keep thinking that... maybe I'm not good enough.”

The first one Lisa built had faltered, as if stricken with a kind of electronic/mechanical palsy. She went back to the instruction sheet and spent a few minutes following it's strange course. There, finally she saw it, a stray wire, a hesitant short. After a quick, skillful jab with the soldering iron it seemed to work fine.

At dawn, which seemed appropriate, she took copies she'd made of the instructions, put them in the cigar tubes she'd bought, attached them to their backs, and let them go. The original moved across the alley, vanishing quickly off into the distance. Her first born started off to the right, slowly making its way among the trash cans and garage doors; the whine of its little electric motors went on for a long time, until fading into the general background of the city.

The second born went to the left, darting across the dark asphalt – but then stopped just about halfway. It stayed there for a minute, spinning slowly as it sought nutritious sunlight. Finally it stopped its dance and made its way slowly down the other side of the alley, until vanishing among some parked cars.

The tears were a surprise, there before she was even aware she was crying. She watched her descendants until she felt they were able to make it on their own, then she wished them well, gave them her love, and went back inside.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Big Brother Machina









(via cyberpunkculture)

Big Brother Machina

Currently presented in Paris, the installation “Memopol II” Timo Toots retrieves and displays all the personal information you have sown Online: schooling, address, salary, political affiliation, criminal record, health, tastes, friends, travel...

Evolution

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rude Mechanicals

 

A Bit Of Everything But The Smell Of Lilies -


In celebration of the release of Betty Came: The Best Of M.Christian, here's a teasing taste of "Everything But The Smell Of Lilies" ... which also appears in my collection of cybersexy fiction, The Bachelor Machine


Everything But The Smell Of Lilies

She is wearing spandex pants decorated with the bold black and white icons of half a dozen Tokyo corporations. Her hair is in dreads, spiced with glittering watch parts. Her shoes are new and intelligent, contouring to her feet as she runs out of the crowd towards the place. Her poncho is tiger-striped, the newest Eurotrash fad, and the by- standers can see, as she pumps those strong legs in those black and white spandex pants, that she doesn’t have a top on, and that her nip- ples (flashing out from under the red and black of the poncho) are only covered by crosses of black electrical tape. She is a mix of black and something else. All can see—even in the midnight glare of Broad- way’s brilliance of neon, lasers, fluorescents, and headlights from blur- ring cars—is that her skin is a brown like stained wood. Her face is high-cheeked, her lips dark brown, her eyes hidden behind mirrored image-intensifying glasses.

She is running for her life: down the street, through the sidewalk crowd, panic in her strides, panting breaths.

It is drizzling, like static.The muscles at the door to the place don’t like it because it messes up their radar goggles. The clients don’t like it because it gets their furs and leathers all wet. The street drek don’t like it because it pisses off the money and the muscles and they usu- ally take it out on whoever is closest and can’t afford to fight back. The limos come and go, a high-class and costly river of black plastic and steel.The rich’s banter is light and sparkling above the rain, and it blends, as only it could in the 21st century, with the chatter from the muscle’s narrow-band radios.

She runs through the crowd, pushing streetdrek and citizens aside, glancing back over her shoulder at every opportunity. Panic lights her muscles, her stride, and she looks for someone to—

The words finally come out in an oscillating scream as she slams against the first ring of genetically-enhanced, neurochemically boosted, electronically hot-wired thugs. True to their purpose, mis- sion, and few remaining authentic brain cells, they smash back, sur- rounding her with dense muscle and squealing radios, and push her back into the crowd.

Her hands are grasping claws, her nails draw blood in a triad streak down the face of one of them (who doesn’t blink against his condi- tioning), and her legs hammer against his ballistic-nylon pants. Her scream sounds like some kind of a weapon, and the few cheap, off-the- shelf guards pull their own weapons and track the high windows around and up—unable to distinguish one crazed woman from an armed assault squad.

Then an arm snakes out of the crowd and, with a clean, sure swipe, slices her throat ear to ear.

The city is big, but not so big as to make the woman’s throat open- ing up and the resulting fine fanning spray of arterial blood com- monplace. A muscle reacts first, being now freckled with potentially dangerously infected blood, and draws and aims... at nothing but the already twitchy street. At the sight of the weapons being quickly drawn and dropped to street level, anyone who has any kind of survival skills instantly turns and runs.To a street of people used to sudden urban vi- olence, turning and running is called a riot. Luckily for the muscle and the few really innocent bystanders, the riot has a place to go: down the street like water down a cascade, away from the Men With Guns, away from the dangerous Blood, away from the Rich People being thrown into their cars by their overreacting bodyguards.

The street is nearly quiet very soon after, save for the wailing of an approaching ambulance, called in a moment of rare altruism by one of the suits, and the last foaming, crackling bubbles from the woman’s throat.

[MORE]

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lisabet Sarai Likes Technorotica


This is a very, very special treat: an extremely flattering review of
Technorotica: Stories Shattering the Ultimate Taboo - a print-only special edition, made up of the Rude Mechanicals and Better Than The Real Thing ebooks, all published (by the very great Renaisssance E Books/Sizzler Editions) by the always-great Lisabet Sarai.  Thanks so much, Lisabet!


Technorotica: Stories Shattering the Ultimate Taboo by M. Christian 
Barbary Coast Editions, Renaissance E Books, 2012
One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an author is that you get to invent new worlds. Sometimes those worlds strongly resemble our so-called reality; sometimes they deviate wildly. Even the most bizarre fictional world, though, needs to feel real. The reader needs to see, smell, taste, and touch the alien environment in which she finds herself. Against all logic and common sense knowledge, she needs to believe. 
Pulling this off is tough, especially in genres like paranormal and science fiction, where the story by definition is set somewhere other than the world as we know it. M. Christian is a master of this trick, as he demonstrates in Technorotica, his new collection of stories concerning the erotic connections between humans and machines. 
I'll admit up front that I've long been a fan of M.Christian's work (I even edited one of his books, ComingTogether Presents M. Christian) and that I'm deeply in awe of his imagination. Despite what might be considered a positive bias, I still feel totally comfortable and justified in asserting: this is a fantastic book, in both the literal and figurative sense. 
The stories in this collection could loosely be called science fiction erotica, but they vary a great deal in focus and tone. Several of them (“Hot Definition”, “Speaking Parts”, “Hack Work” and the excerpt from Christian's novel Painted Doll) are set in a shadowy, perilous, cyber-punk world where everything is for sale and everyone lives on the edge, staying alive through crime or luck or sometimes both. Prosthetics, holographic doppelgangers, constant electronic surveillance, mind-jacking and body snatching – fans of Gibson, Sterling and Cadigan will feel right at home. However, this author isn't primarily concerned with gadgets and technology (never mind the title of the book) but with feelings: fear, hunger, desperation, desire and love. These stories explore how humans reach out for one another, as the mechanical invades and erodes the meaning of humanity. 
“Blow Up” and “I am Jo's Vibrator” are lighter in tone. The former lets us into the mind of a man with a peculiar fetish. The latter, as suggested by the title, is narrated by a sex toy. Both will make you smile (or at least, that was my reaction) though “Blow Up”, the first tale in the book, has a subtle darkness that's a preview of the more serious stories to come. 
I've read the tale “State” in several other M. Christian collections. It remains one of my favorite erotic stories of all time. A human woman/sex worker impersonates a blue-skinned, state-of-the-art Japanese sex robot. The neat logical flip here satisfies the intellect. The woman's arousal at becoming the ultimate sex object provides satisfaction in other dimensions. 
“The Bell House Invitation” is a fabulous new take on ménage, or more accurately, polyamory. Four individuals – two men, two women – live together and share a group mind. Together they seduce another woman with the aim of convincing her to join their communal consciousness. The sex scene in this tale succeeds in exploring all the participants' experience simultaneously, pulling the reader into the mix. It's lusciously explicit without losing the sense of wonder that derives from a level of communion most of us only dream about. 
In contrast, “Billie” includes no overt sex at all yet still manages to convey an intense feeling of desire. This vignette of a butch woman speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway on her vintage 1977 Harley Davidson details a synergy between human and machine so strong it becomes erotic. 
“A Light Minute” focuses on communication over a distance, as a reclusive woman terrified of the world outside opens herself to the lover she knows only via electronic missives. 
Finally, “KSRN” is a dream-like reverie about speed and sex, chrome and compassion. If I'd been the author, I would have put this story last in the book. It leaves you feeling haunted and yet somehow complete.
Overall, my reaction to this book was “Wow”. But then, I'm seriously turned on by originality. If you share this trait with me – get yourself a copy of Technorotica.

(And by the way - the book includes a great preface and afterword, too!)

Love Like Aliens

Olmecha Supreme - Schematica

Jeffrey Randolph Richter


(via relievemyburden)

Jeffrey Randolph Richter

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DJ? Acucrack - So To Speak

Read (And Listen To) "Some Assembly Required" From The Bachelor Machine

As you (ahem) may have heard, I recorded a reading of my SF story, "Some Assembly Required" from Love Without Gun Control

Just for fun, here's the story itself (pasted below). Enjoy!


Some Assembly Required

She hadn't thought about Mark in years – then, suddenly, she did. It wasn't something obvious, like seeing his face on someone else's who also had pale blond hair, like burnished steel, or eyes like amber marbles, but something swift and intangible, like a floating piece of consciousness you remember as not being fact, reality, but part of a dream half-forgotten.

Lisa had been standing in the warm sunshine down on Solano Avenue, walking back with her sister from seeing a movie – something with explosions and lots of male sweat, details already mostly forgotten. They'd parked far away, and chatted emptily as they marched back to Lisa's battered little sports car.

He'd had a tension about him sometimes, an almost tangible armor that would slip over him. The first time it had happened they'd fought later in the day, Lisa convinced on some level that she'd been the cause. It had happened, so quickly and without apparent cause and had lingered for hours, and he hadn't spoken a word about it. When the same had happened to Lisa, in other relationships, it usually meant anger at her, a stewing resentment just needing an impetus to release. Better, she'd learned, to get it out when she wanted to – beat the fight to the punch.

Hot, hard sunlight in her eyes and she replied mechanically to Shirley's polite sisterly banter. Why now – why think of that and Mark... now? The laughter of children in front of a nearby toy store, an old woman glacially making her way down the sidewalk in a mechanical walker, a burnished Latino man clipping branches from a tree in front of a doctor's office.

“Some people just shouldn't have children,” Shirley said, slipping into the passenger seat as Lisa absently hunted for the ignition. Lisa looked up, hunting for the source, and saw the three with the kids: two glowing parents, and a friend. The parents were young and sleek with their own kind of baby fat – the softness that Lisa had seen around her other friends that had the innocence and responsibility of children thrust onto them. “Luckily,” Shirley said, her eyes obscured by sunglasses, “other people can.”

Their friend wasn't sleek, wasn't soft. His hair was slightly greasy, his jeans rough and faded to threads in some places – and even though he was smiling with his friends and the children he had to accompany, his tension was obvious.

Lisa knew, that fragment finding it's place in her mind: the why of thinking of Mark. Yeah, some people shouldn't have children, but other people – good, kind people – were terrified of them.

****

It was night by the time she got back to her apartment, parking as usual in the darkness of the alley behind her building. After an afternoon with Shirley, Mark had faded into a cool melancholy – a lazy sadness about many things, old and nearly forgotten boyfriends only some of it.

At first she thought it was an insect, and fear/disgust/revulsion tingled up and down her spine. Then she thought it might be a toy – children being up way to late. Then she picked it up. Looking at it under the washed-out distant lights from the street beyond, she again thought specifically of one old boyfriend and brought it inside.

His breath had been hot – she remembered when it seemed about to scald her neck, how she'd felt she'd had to move – just a little – from under him, feeling it almost ready to burn her skin. He always seemed to have a bruise or two, looking like a swatch of grease on his angular body, from where he'd hurt himself at work.

The apartment seemed empty, cold – so she turned on the coffee machine and absently flicked on the set to keep her company. Her answering machine was beeping one, one, one in dark red – so she didn't play it, knowing it to be Shirley saying she'd be late for the movie.

The little machine wasn't a toy – it had a kind of patched-together, crude look to it. Putting it down on her kitchen counter it immediately started a hesitant exploration of its new environment. Smiling despite herself, she lunged to catch it as it neared an edge – only to have it pull away at the last minute. It had a couple of small motors, maybe scavenged from a toy after all. It had wire feelers, and a mysterious cluster of dark glass panels along its back. Its body seemed to be a piece of an old circuit board, the green material almost black in some places from being outside for a long time. It seemed to have eyes, as well, two discs facing forward. Yes, eyes, as she watched it hunted along her counter-top for light. It had a battery, a black box along its back, but must have fed, recharged, on what it could see – eating light through the flat glass panels on its back.

Also on its back was a cigar tube. Picking it up, Lisa shook it, hearing something inside. Carefully, she unscrewed it – and a tightly rolled sheet of paper came out.

****

Mark was very much in her mind. The gruff rumble of his voice, the deep avalanche of his laughter. For someone who saw tools as an extension of his self, he liked surprisingly subtle and sophisticated things. When he was crouched over some new machine, or under some behemoth of gears and engines, Bach chimed from his speakers. When he stopped to eat it was usually Sushi or Thai, and while he enjoyed watching things explode and men sweat on the screen he also had a complete Win Wenders collection and worshipped Jacques Tati.

The instructions on the paper were simple, straightforward. Even for someone like Lisa for whom Mark's terminology had been like listening to an ancient Asiatic language, she could understand it. It was also obviously a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy – the pattern of the diagrams in some places blurred by replication.

She stayed up for a long time, staring at the instructions and thinking about Mark, while the little machine patiently explored its new world – charging its battery from her kitchen lights.

****

The parts were surprisingly easy to find. Two trips to two different electronic stores. Cheap too – or would have been had she had some of the tools it required at hand.

Practicing with the soldering iron, she thought a lot about Mark. She built him, assembled him from memory as he sent curls of acid smoke up towards the ceiling: tall, thin – rough but not course, with a kind of mechanic's masculinity. Machines had been a special language for him, the key to a secret world of cause and effect. She remembered how his amber eyes glowed when he talked about some new project, some new device or construction – explaining to her innocence the philosophy of its gears, the beauty of its mechanisms.

She didn't have any photographs. No letters. They hadn't been together long – two and a half, maybe three years. She couldn't even remember why they'd broken up... exactly. She knew a lot of it was because of his passion, and her revelation that, at best, she'd only be the second most important thing in his life.

She burned herself, gesturing clumsily with the iron like it was a pencil or pen and not a very hot tool. The pain was like a flash in her eyes and she dropped it – luckily on the table and not on the carpet. After sucking on the inside of her finger when the iron had touched and almost crying, she breathed deep a few times and went back to trying to get enough with the unfamiliar tool.

That fight was very present in her mind. They had gone to a picnic with her sister, who'd been baby-sitting her friend's six-year-old. Mark hadn't made any noises when she'd told him about it, but that tension descended on him hard and fast whenever he was near the kid. Sally was a sweet girl, shy but very smart and with laughter that sounded like chiming bells. Still, Mark had been terrified.

Lisa hadn't known that – and so the fight: beat him to it, get it out in the open. For a long time he just stood there and let her run all over the place trying to figure out why he was so angry. Finally, he said something – and then something else, and then she started to understand. That night they'd made love – and it had been different. Passionate, yes, but also caring – an act to seal up a wound that had been opened.

When Shirley came over the next day she saw the mess of electronic parts scattered on her kitchen counter. “Toaster explode?” she joked, picking up something only three days before Lisa wouldn't have recognized.

“Just a hobby,” Lisa said, defensively, feeling as if Shirley had been picking through her bedside table, commenting on her method of birth control.

“Looks like something Mark would have put together – spit and bailing wire, couple of batteries and... viola, art. Too bad everyone else just saw it as some bailing wire and lots of spit.”

Mark hadn't called it art. He might have treated it that way, but he never called it that. “Yeah,” Lisa said, grabbing her purse, “but that's what he liked to do.” Then she said, not at all hungry, just to get her sister away, “let's get a bite, I'm starved.”

“You think about him... Mark – a lot.”

“Sometimes,” she said, gently moving her sister towards the front door.

“You weren't together all that long, and it weren't even with him when he, you know, passed away.” At the door, she paused. “Cancer, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, cancer–”

“He didn't leave much behind did he? I think you were the only person who knew him well – and that's not saying a lot.”

“No,” she agreed, locking her front door, “not a lot at all.” ****

She decided to build two of them. That way she could have some practice and not put too much pressure on herself to get the one-and- only done perfectly. She burned herself, twice more – but then felt like she was really getting a handle on the iron. Her nose tickled for a long time from the resin-reek of the melting solder, but then she started to enjoy it – it was like an incense from some distant, mechanical land. Something burned in Mark's church.

It wasn't hate that had tensed him that day in the park around dear little – it was responsibility. “I was scared. Damn, I hate that – that feeling. Like walking on glass. They're so fragile, you know. I know what that was like, how one wrong thing... well, it might not mean anything to me, but to them it could be how they see the world after. That freaks me out. I'm not ready to do it right, I guess – I'm too selfish. When I want to do, I want to do it right, to be there all the time for them – to really be there for them, to help them. Now, though, the responsibility scares me.”

“You just have to let go,” she'd told him, holding him close and feeling his breathing, hot breathing on the side of her neck. “Other people have the same fears, but they manage okay. You just have to learn to let go. It's how we go on – it's how you leave a part of yourself behind. You're just scared because you only want to leave the best of you behind.”

He'd nodded, his heavy body moving slightly, too, as his head did. “I know. I just keep thinking that... maybe I'm not good enough.”

The first one Lisa built had faltered, as if stricken with a kind of electronic/mechanical palsy. She went back to the instruction sheet and spent a few minutes following it's strange course. There, finally she saw it, a stray wire, a hesitant short. After a quick, skillful jab with the soldering iron it seemed to work fine.

At dawn, which seemed appropriate, she took copies she'd made of the instructions, put them in the cigar tubes she'd bought, attached them to their backs, and let them go. The original moved across the alley, vanishing quickly off into the distance. Her first born started off to the right, slowly making its way among the trash cans and garage doors; the whine of its little electric motors went on for a long time, until fading into the general background of the city.

The second born went to the left, darting across the dark asphalt – but then stopped just about halfway. It stayed there for a minute, spinning slowly as it sought nutritious sunlight. Finally it stopped its dance and made its way slowly down the other side of the alley, until vanishing among some parked cars.

The tears were a surprise, there before she was even aware she was crying. She watched her descendants until she felt they were able to make it on their own, then she wished them well, gave them her love, and went back inside.