cover image Black Feathers: Erotic Dreams

Black Feathers: Erotic Dreams

Cecilia Tan. Harper Perennial, $13 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-06-098501-1

Tan boasts in an author's note, ""I imagine a world where dominance and submission play an important role in people's happiness and social order."" While John Stuart Mill might have approved of the sentiment, it is hard to imagine him (or anyone else) getting excited over these 23 mechanically kinky, self-consciously quirky tales of bondage and SM. Divided into loosely thematic categories (Wish Fulfillment, Faraway Worlds, The Seamy Side, etc.), none transcends its unobjectionable premise: a young man finds himself with the help of a streetwise vampire; a young woman throwing a costume party falls for the ""slave"" of her dominatrix friend; a virginal freshman gets initiated into a gay fraternity; aliens put willing humans on a leash. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, cheap sex without sin is a bore: for all the leather, nipple-clamps and futuristic settings, watching Tan's thin, sinless creations copulate is like watching an orgy between anatomically correct paper dolls. This is porn for people who don't like sex. (June) FYI: Tan is the founder and publisher of Circlet Press, which specializes in erotic science fiction.