cover image Unsafe Words

Unsafe Words

Loren Rhoads. Automatism, $9.99 trade paper (174p) ISBN 978-1-73518-760-0

Rhoads (Angelus Rose) offers a heady blend of otherworldly sex and sin in this collection of 15 speculative shorts. “Here There Be Monsters” follows two bike riders who stop to picnic, drop acid, and hook up near an abandoned mansion in the woods—and what’s lurking there is not particularly welcoming. A young woman comes of age on a dangerous planet where humans and alien species mingle freely in “The Arms Dealer’s Daughter,” a delightful homage to classic sci-fi. A human becomes the bride of a fairy embarking on the Wild Hunt in “The Magic of Fire and Dawn,” a succubus searches for pleasure in the 1970s in the steamy “Never Bargained for You,” and the erotic “Affamé” delves into intense BDSM. Rhoads’s prose is effervescent, rendering her imagined worlds with nuance and the occasional dose of black humor. Though the graphic sex and violence throughout will scare off some readers, Rhoads does provide a helpful key with content warnings for each of her stories. This carefully crafted collection makes an excellent showcase of Rhoads’s skill across a multitude of subgenres. (Self-published)