cover image Hard Drive

Hard Drive

M. Christian. Sizzler Editions, $2.99 e-book (242p) ISBN 978-1-929670-46-8

Futurist Christian selects a brave but uneven mix of unsettling high-tech erotic stories collected from his works of the last two decades. Christian is at his best playing with images of submission to the allure of urban dystopias, tweaking the imagination with scenes that are all the more arousing for being disturbing, as in the necrophiliac “Everything but the Smell of Lilies.” Consent and nonconsent are juxtaposed to similar effect in “Hack Work.” Sex robot stories—“The Bachelor Machine,” in which a man visits a disintegrating pleasure house, and “State,” in which a human courtesan has been remodeled to resemble a high-end AI executing an age-play fantasy—bring out futuristic nostalgia and a sad loneliness behind the idea of perfected, commodified pleasure, while also effectively evoking the sexual power of machines that are one uncanny step away from being fully human. Despite the author’s asserted hope for “a tomorrow full of acceptance, self-determination [and] mindfulness,” stories that point toward a future in which aliens or sentient AIs want to love humans, such as “The Subsequent State” and “A Kiss Goodnight,” are as creepy as those steeped in malevolent compulsion, and much less arousing. Futuristic erotica fans will dog-ear their favorite stories, but some of the other tales don’t even merit a read through to the end. (Aug.)