Erotica Showdown: Agony/Ecstasy Preliminary Round - Part 3
In Part 1 and Part 2 of the preliminary rounds of JDAEEOA (that is "Judging Dear Author's Edited Erotica of Awesomeness"), I picked the best stories from Agony/Ecstasy new erotica anthology edited by Dear Author's Jane Litte. Today I finish up the prelims by choosing three favorites from the collection's remaining seven tales.
Bracket #8 - Body Modification
In Sunny Moraine’s futuristic “Wetwire”, as a high schooler, Tia’s guy pal Kimber taught her how to jack herself into a computer in order to float on seas of data. It has been years since the two have meet face to face, but there have been net-trysts where they tweak each other’s nerves for sexual pleasure. Tia loves the experience and has become obsessed with living online. She has even gotten implants so she can hook herself directly into a computer to lose her consciousness in the machine. But Kim has been working on something new, something he wants to share with Tia that requires more than just implants. He is planning on reprogramming her brain to get her back in touch with her physical self and give her unimaginable pleasure.
After a painful divorce Marnie, the heroine of K.L. Galace’s “On My Skin”, is nothing like the person she once was. These days she spends most of her time drunk and alone, fighting everyday to keep from drowning in her depression. On a trip back from the liquor store one evening, the owner of a local tatto parlor, Michael, stops Marnie on the street. He wants to know if she needs help and although Marnie says no, she follows him into his shop thinking that she should get a tattoo. Marnie has always wanted to get art done, but she had been afraid. However, Michael convinces her that this could be the fresh start that she needs: not only a new tattoo, but a new relationship — with him.
Winner: “On My Skin”
Both stories ask interesting questions about permanent body modification and how that physical change can also mean an emotional transformation. However, Tia in “Wetwire” doesn’t really know what she is getting into, which begs the question: Is she is ready to take on the changes that Kim is making? On the other hand, Marnie in “On My Skin” definitely wants Michael and the support he offers. He makes her feel beautiful and helps her start to heal. The idea of Marnie offering herself as a canvas for Michael’s art is both sensual and intimate.
Bracket #9 - Same Sex Lovers
A.L. Simonds’ “Stitch and Bitch” has a group of women gathering once a week at a local craft shop for a bit of knitting and a whole lot of gossip. Priya works at the shop and is at lose ends after a bad breakup with her ex. However, she thinks she may have found someone new, Luisa. But Priya doesn’t feel like their relationship has true potential because Luisa acts more like a teenage boy than a grown woman as she plays around on skateboards and has no real job. Thankfully, Luisa knows that Priya is something special and she is not willing to let the other woman go, despite their very different lifestyles.
“Into The Red” by Cameron Belle takes place in a futuristic dystopia where prisoners are given a chance to win their freedom by competing in blood sports in the Megarena. While most of society watches the games for entertainment, shy, slight Brendan is not comfortable with the fighting. This makes him the perfect medical attendee to those in the Megarena's ring. Brendan has no interest in the outcome of the fights and he is not tempted to fix the fights by giving competitors strength enhancing drugs. But what Brendan is tempted by is the first muscle-bound prisoner he meets. Tom doesn’t say what he has done to land him in prison, but he does tell Brendan what will get him ready to fight: no-holds-barred sex with Brendan that will get Tom energized and ready to take on any opponent.
Winner: “Into The Red”
The crafting elements of “Stitch and Bitch” make for great reading; unfortunately, Luisa’s character is a bit stereotypical making her uninteresting. In comparison, there is absolutely nothing ordinary or cliché about “Into The Red”. Under normal circumstances, Tom and Brendan would have never, ever met, which would have been a shame because the two have such great chemistry. The fact that Tom is on his way to fight for his life gives the meeting between the new lovers a sense of urgency that really ratchets up the heat factor.
Bracket #10 - Three Way Historical Face Off
Ai-kan Fen Jul is a warrior and the emperor of seemingly endless lands in Jean Johnson’s “The Sybil”. Ai-kan bows to no man, however, there is a woman, a special woman who he will submit to. Her name is Charlisse and she is a Sybil, a woman who acts as a mouthpiece of the gods. Charlisse travels with Ai-kan on his campaigns and uses her wisdom and skills to guide the leader. In return, Ai-kan is Charlisse’s to punish and reward as she sees fit and she wields her power well.
“Each Step Sublime” by Bettie Sharpe has the same plot as the fairy tale The Little Mermaid. The heroine, an unnamed sea person, saves a prince from drowning and they share an amazing kiss, which neither can forget. Inspired, the mermaid decides to shed her tail in order to join her hero on land, so she makes a pact with a sea witch to take her voice for a potion to grow legs. But the bargain requires another sacrifice, the mermaid suffers tremendous agony whenever she walks on her newly formed legs. She immediately joins her prince, only to discover that he is considered a monster because of his dark cravings. However after what the mermaid has endured, she is more than willing to take his rough treatment and beg for more.
The year is 1912 in Lily Daniels’ “Kiss of Life” and Theodora and Hugh have just been married. On their wedding night, Thea decides it is time to reveal that she is not a virgin. After surviving the Titanic's sinking, she gave herself to her fiancée Martin, who turned out to be a fortune hunter. When Martin realized that Thea had no money, he cast her aside. Luckily, Hugh was there to offer his hand in marriage. However, Hugh has a secret of his own. He has not wedded Thea out of love, but to get revenge on Martin. Hugh blames Martin for the role he played in the death of Hugh’s cousin aboard the sinking ship. Initially Hugh takes his anger at Martin out on Theodora, by using her sexually. But soon he hatches a plan to get back at Martin for both his cousin and his new wife’s sake.
Winner: “The Sybil"
In all three of these stories, the women are used by the men and not necessarily in a way that they accept. In the case of “Each Step Sublime” the prince takes the mermaid as his mistress, but he is still planning on marrying another. Likewise, in “Kiss of Life”, Hugh does not align himself with Thea because he cares for her, but rather out of revenge. However, in “The Sybil” the hero and heroine have an equal relationship. Ai-kan does use Charlisse to further his political ends, but Charlisse has chosen to align herself with the warlord because this gives her power to change the lives of those in need. It is absolutely wonderful to see a completely strong and independent heroine who is in control of her own destiny as she wisely guides the lives of those around her. There is not only passion in Charlisse and Ai-kan’s relationship, but also a mutual respect and love that lights up the page.