Being a regular traveller on England’s rail network at weekends, my journeys have been prone to the odd memorable setback (though not half as many as critics of the system might expect, given the number of miles we put in following Rotherham. I’ve experienced everything from engine failure at Kettering to a body on the line at Harpenden, and had to dodge a rather grubby pair of pants being thrown round our carriage between Manchester and Stoke. Sometimes there are compensations – being pressed up against a cute (and very tall) Dutchman in the crowded vestibule of a Coventry-bound express wasn’t exactly a hardship – and whatever happens, I’ll never undergo a journey quite as perilous as those in Like A Long Road Home. The latest e-anthology from Circlet Press, it features four stories which showcase the depth of variety in erotic speculative fiction.
My own contribution, On The Rocks, is a reworking of something I originally started writing years ago following a call for submissions for stories with a mythological theme put out by, I think, Mitzi Szereto (ah, the luxury of having the time to go back and work on all those ideas which end up being filed under ‘going nowhere’…). It’s the story of Palemon, Phiclus and Mentius, three shipwrecked sailors in search of civilisation, who find instead a woman chained to a rock and left as a human sacrifice. She is Xanthe, an oracle, and by following their instincts to rescue her they will gain a particularly sweet reward.
Elsewhere, L.A. Mistral’s lyrical Touching Hemingway sees Shawn and Yurina attempting to breathe fresh life into their failing marriage on a trip to Cuba. Infected with the wild spirit of the country, Yurina dares Shawn to steal Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter, on display in the writer’s former home, an adventure which has the power to make them rediscover their lust for each other all over again.
Ota, in Vinnie Tesla’s Ota Discovers Fire, is a naïve city boy attempting to make an arduous journey across the mountains. Having been swindled by the merchants he was supposed to be travelling with, he meets a girl with the power to take on the form of a wolf. She accepts his offer to guide him to safety, and gradually an unlikely but beautifully described attraction forms between the pampered Ota and the feral girl.
Sunny Moraine sets Neither Bird Nor Tree in a post-apocalyptic landscape where her protagonist, Marlow, is one of the few humans left alive. Striking out for the ocean, he runs across Ben Cobb in a seemingly abandoned house, and their joint fight for survival becomes something much more intimate, until Ben goes missing…
Circlet’s briefs always allow writers to range widely in terms of style, setting and sexual orientation, and the results are anthologies like this, which are humorous one moment, moving the next and always have a strong sexual element driving the plot forwards. And as the Circlet 100, mentioned below, is currently halfway subscribed with just over a week to go, it looks like they’ll be able to continue bringing quality sci-fi and fantasy erotica to bookshops near you.
Like A Long Road Home is available from the Amazon Kindle store, Smashwords, Scribd and All Romance E-books, and you’ll be able to get it from Circlet once their shopping cart problems have been resolved. Don’t leave home without a copy!