What would you do if you knew you only had twenty-four hours to live? Put your affairs in order, settle old scores, try to make amends for past misdeeds or maybe just have some really hot sex? That’s the dilemma facing the characters in Circlet’s Apocalypse Sex anthology.
Editor Jennifer Levine has put together a collection of stories which venture across the spectrum of speculative fantasy, from near-future scenarios to full-on space opera, and the result is incredibly entertaining. The action kicks off with J. Daniel Sawyer’s sweetly moving Buried Alive In The Blues. Set in roughly the present day, it imagines a United States slowly drowning under continuous rainfall. Seeking a release from the misery of losing her husband at roughly the same time as the apocalypse began, Irene goes to a bar to see her favourite blues band play and finds herself tumbling into a dream-like purgatory, where ghosts wait to meet the ones they’ve left behind, Janis Joplin struts the stage and a never-ending orgy offers at its heart the faint promise of redemption.
In Elizabeth Schechter’s Darkest Night, it’s not just the Earth that’s dying, it’s the entire universe. Alterted to the danger of some unstoppable wave of doom, the crew of the Taraqa are attempting to save as many colonists as they can. As their own destruction becomes imminent, captain Tariq and ship’s AI Moira finally consummate their love in a virtual reality simulation. Unashamedly romantic, this one will definitely bring a lump to your throat.
Beverly Langland’s Invasion! takes as its starting place the panic and confusion created by Orson Welles’ radio version of War Of The Worlds and builds to a deliciously described threesome between the narrator, her widowed neighbour and a very attractive, virginal girl they find hiding in the barn where they take shelter. Meanwhile, David Hubbard employs something at the heart of a more recent media panic – swine flu – to kill off most of the world’s population in Hedges. The story focuses on two of the survivors, Texan Jeremy and his neighbour, Bradley, and paints a convinving picture of how their shared loneliness and grief for their lost partners might tempt the straight Bradley to seduce openly gay Jeremy.
My story in the collection, Expiry Date, features a personal apocalypse, rather than a global one. To combat rising levels of debt, every citizen has been fitted with a chip containing their credit details. When their balance reaches zero, the chip must be topped up, or it’ll explode. When struggling actress Holly finds herself fatally broke, she decides to spend her final moments in the company of her best friend’s husband, Marco, knowing that if they act on the attraction they’ve always had for each other, she won’t be around to feel guilty afterwards…
Putting a whole new meaning into ending the world with a bang, Apocalypse Sex takes subject matter which could be fairly grim and turns it into a series of beautifully life-affirming scenarios. Click here to find out more, and read an extract from Expiry Date.