If you like this zine, you may like the professional sf erotica novel co-written by this author, The Syndicate.
"Seven deadly sins," said Avon, without looking up. "Vila can be Sloth and Gluttony, and we can fight it out for the rest."
"You could do pride," Blake pointed out gently, smiling.
"Really?" Avon asked. "Wouldn't a man who thinks this squabbling mini-rabble can bring down galaxy-wide oppression know more about that?" He was glad to see that wipe the smile off Blake's face.
"Can I do Lust?" Jenna asked brightly, springing into Blake's lap to practice. At which Avon began to practice Envy and hoped it wasn't showing.
Previously: on Freedom City list.
Blake's Christmas Present talks back to him.
Previously: sent out in a Christmas card, only a few people have seen it.
"I'm a fairy queen," it said, "and I've come to tell you about the three wishes. People so rarely know the rules nowadays."
Dim memories of old stories crossed Vila's mind. "You're her? Titania? The fairy queen?"
It thrust its--his--tightly-clad lurex crotch out. "Wash your mouth out with soap!" the creature bridled. "I said a fairy queen, not the fairy queen. And don't go telling madam, neither, this is strictly private."
"You're a he?" Vila asked doubtfully.
The fairy glared at him. "What parts of the words 'fairy' and 'queen' don't you understand, dear?"
When he got down to the flight deck, Blake was looking at him mistrustfully over a cup of coffee, from the other side of the room. How dare he decide it was all a big mistake before I had time to? Avon thought moodily.
"What's a big mistake, Avon?" Blake asked him. Damn. That bloody unwanted chemical miracle was still going. Evidently it had only been suppressed earlier by the fact Blake was asleep at the time.
I didn't say a word, Avon thought, perfectly truthfully.
Blake shrugged, and ignored him.
Avon went and got his own cup of coffee. Cally was getting her own nauseously healthy breakfast, some sort of large gritty grain with skimmed milk and diet sugar.
She looked nervous. "I'm sorry, Avon, I had to tell Blake. He thought he was having mental problems."
"I was actually going to ask you how long it lasts, but thank you for making my life even more interesting," he said, with restraint. Being an alien, she had to look at him to determine that that was Sarcasm.
"I'm sorry. Only about three weeks and then you'll have to go back to normal," she said, with distinct pity. It's all right for her, she's brought up to it! Avon thought resentfully.
Previously: small section on Freedom City list, otherwise unpublished.
"Headache...bloody bad one," Blake said, and put a hand to his head. There was the sound of running feet. Cally had her arm under Blake's other shoulder, just in time to stop him actually fallng down.
Avon was for once glad of that touch of empathy: he wasn't sure he'd have managed to lug Blake down to medical on his own.
"He says it's a headache, but it's not an ordinary one. Migraine?"
"Could be," Cally said doubtfully, "but his temperature's off, at least it would be by our standards. Feel him shivering?"
"I should have noticed that," Avon said. "If it's some sort of illness, he hasn't been in contact with anyone but us lately. When he went down to that last planet, he wasn't feeling sociable."
"Cold," said Blake faintly, "so cold."
Avon didn't think Blake noticed being dragged to medical and laid down on the couch.
He managed to find a blanket.
Blake clutched at it.
"Is that better?" Cally asked, helping to pull it over him.
"No," Blake said, almost petulantly. "Cold."
"He's still cold," she told Avon. I can hear for myself! Avon thought.
"Colder than Exbar," Blake said. He paused. "Colder than mutoids with frostbite. Colder than a punishment cell in January," he elaborated. "C-colder than Avon's heart."
For some reason, that hurt.
He sighed wistfully. Ages ago, he'd had underwear designed on entirely non- functional principles, and loved it dearly. However, it had not survived his capture.
The troopers, on coming in to make inventory of his possessions ("bomb-making kits, seditional handbooks, you know the sort of thing") had explained that it was practically their duty to get rid of it, "you'd be a walking invitation to rape, wearing that in a prison cell"). One of the troopers, who happened to be the same size as he was, had kindly offered to look after it for him. Avon, still wearing the "I cannot imagine how those things got into my sock drawer" expression, had agreed, or at least not disagreed.
I bought this at Redemption and read it there and on the train home. My first impressions were that it was very hot; joyously, romp-ishly well-written (I wonder what the ratio of one-liners to orgasms is?); and in some stories with a lot more emotional range (okay, I mean angst) than I was expecting from the First Lady of Farce. After extensive further research, I can reveal that all the above is still true, but I would have to add that it is, in fact, very, very, *very* hot.
I don't know if they're still like this, but the last time I went into an Anne Summers shop I was slightly confused, because when you go through the curtain into the "adult" bit you're confronted by bondage gear (rubber full-face masks with integral ball-gags, leg-spreaders, nipple clamps) *and* hilarious novelty items like "boob pasta" and seaside postcards. I hope Pred won't be offended when I say this zine felt a bit like that, managing to combine absolute filth with jovial dirty-mindedness. As ever, too, it's a showcase for Pred's unique ability to keep Avon and Blake in character while writing happy, sexy, *fun* porn.
The six stories all mix the Dark(ish) Intensity of Avon and Blake's relationship with carefree sex rompiness, but in different degrees. Striking Attitudes, Xmas Present, and Wish this Ring (the first three) are fairly straightforward jolly sex-comedy. This is not a criticism, because God knows Blake and Avon deserve some straightforward jollity. Wish This Ring has some particularly good sex in it - in fact the last sex scene in the story is one of the places my copy of the zine falls open.
The second trio of stories are a little darker. Fifteenth of Boozious is a wonderful hurt/comfort story with a telepathic twist which makes for an ingenious variation on the "Avon doesn't talk about his feelings" theme. Another highlight is the lovely few paragraphs on Avon and Blake's relative cock sizes (sweet and sexy!), and the blissfully sweet ending.
Eight Inches to Man-Size and Addiction are my two favourite stories in the zine. Eight Inches because of the angst, the wonderfully plotted story which depends on Avon's self-delusion and horrible miscommunication between Blake and Avon (themes dear to my heart), and some lovely Furious Blake moments. Isn't he beautiful when he's angry? Also some great jokes and some *fabulous* sex, although because of the miscommunication there's a little less of the dirty dialogue which is another thing I love Predatrix for.
Addiction more than makes up for that, though. Blimey O'Reilley. Pred's focus on the ways Blake and Avon learn about each other's fantasies and kinks makes for another lovely psychological story. Also an absolutely filthy one. And although all the stories in the zine are sexy enough to almost qualify as PWP, the sex really *is* the plot - perhaps in Addiction in particular - and it's so well done. I love the way the boys have to learn about each other the same way the rest of us lowly mortals do - by talking, guessing, trial and error.
That's the best I can do. I'm off for a little lie down now.
Ika was absolutely right, the level of *amazingly* creative and joyously graphic smut is impressive. But what's equally impressive, for me, is the seemingly effortless humour*, something that is actually harder to get write (having read some hysterically *un*funny stories before now). Angst is good, angst is great, but truly funny and truly Avonish one-liners are a gift, and they're thrown around throughout the zine like confetti, even - and soooo characteristically for My Darling - in the *midst* of the angst. It's terrific to have Blake and Avon arguing and insulting and at times perfectly *awful* to each other and still (for the most part) so clearly *like* each other (well, some things about each other, and not just the obvious ones).
As to the characters themselves - I was expecting something fairly good, since Pred and I do - I think - have fairly similar views of My Darlings. Both Avon and Blake are *great*; Blake is every bit as obstinate, obstreperous, hot-tempered, warm and generous as I see him, Avon as charming (when he *wants* to be), self-conflicted, mostly unabashedly selfish, just occasionally selfless (I also love the ongoing discussions/arguments he has with different parts of his own anatomy and the way he always loses ...:-)). Both are wonderfully devious when they want to be, blindingly honest when they have to. I also have a soft spot for Pred's Gan, patiently clearing up and doing the work while his tempestuous crewmates argue (Striking Attitudes).
My favourite is the longer, more serious 'Eight Inches to Man-Size' which has some serious angst, a lot of self-delusion from Avon, and *very* nice hurt-comfort, with Blake being the hurt one, as in ill, possible dying, and Avon finding that this messes with his barriers as badly as expected; also 'Fifteenth of Boozious', in which Blake is able to read Avon's thoughts (a scenario, one would think, for *serious* blood-on-the-floor tension), and Avon actually finds the plus-side of being able to tell Blake exactly what he thinks without saying a word ...
All the stories, both the cheerful (and sexy) romps and the more serious (but still sexy) character pieces, work a treat for me. Sorry if the lack of criticism makes for a light-weight review, but there it is ...
*Yes, Pred, I *know* it was nothing of the sort, but you made it *look* effortless, which is a different thing entirely and sooooo important in humour.
Fiction, all by Predatrix:
"Striking Attitudes: Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, Prudence" (8 pp.; S1; A/B; humor)
"Xmas Present" (2 pp.; script; S1; A/B; humor)
"Wish This Ring" (13 pp.; "from an idea by Julia Stamford;" S1; A/B, J/G, C/V; humor)
"Fifteenth of Boozious" (10 pp.; S2; A/B, C/J, B-hc)
"Eight Inches to Man-Size" (28 pp.; S1; A/B, B-hc)
"Addiction" (27 pp.; S2; A/B)
Posted on 21st of December 2007
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