I have a little list… I have a little list
Posted March 7, 2012on:
In this anthology there are two stories that include smart, sexy Chinese women, and I like it for that reason alone. There are 14 stories altogether, which is quite a generous number. It’s surprising, then, that they are of a consistently high quality. I did skip one of the stories, I must admit, and I suppose if I were being a conscientious reviewer I’d say which one it was, but it was no big deal, I just didn’t like it. It’s an anthology. It’s okay to skip around.
Talking of skipping around, I first saw this as a paperback in a bookshop in Charing Cross Road and I nearly bought it but I was with a male friend and I didn’t want him to feel threatened by my interest in sex machines.
So I bought a Kindle version. I really wish I’d bought the paperback. An anthology like this shows up the weaknesses of the Kindle. I kept wanting to flick through and dip in and out and I really couldn’t.
The only author I’d heard of before I bought the book was Janine Ashbless. All the others were not only new to me but have really strange names like Elias A. St. James, Essemoh Teepee and Blue Poe Von Page. Unfortunately the Kindle version doesn’t give the author’s name with the story title in the table of contents, so this made it really hard to get familiar with their names and remember who had written what. To make matters worse, the author biographies at the back are in a different order from the stories and don’t give the story titles.
I had to write my own table of contents in the end, which is really geeky, isn’t it? But I suppose someone who can do that would also appreciate a steam-powered anal probe, so you could say this book and I were made for each other.
Like my review, this book should not be taken too seriously. But as a piece of fun, it’s really very stylish indeed.
I was pleasantly impressed by the imagination and the craftsmanship that went into the stories. One story impressed me particularly. It was Lair of the Red Countess by Kathleen Bradean. The writing has a sensuous surface texture and shadowy depths that really got my attention. It isn’t perfect. It is a bit rough in places. But I like its roughness and I like the deft narrative shifts that delve into the backgrounds of both main characters and flesh them out for us. It’s quite a complex little story for all its playfulness, and there is a lot of flesh, as it were, packed into a very tight space.
But the other stories are also very well done and the theme of Carnal Machines is carried through them all with admirable panache. Now that I have my little home-made table of contents, I will definitely use it to look up some of the other writers on my list.