Eight novellas offer a smorgasbord of genres, philosophical musings, end-of-days scenarios, and promiscuous encounters.
Extraterrestrial fashion designers, semitruck drivers, prostitutes, an evil near-trillionaire, and world-controlling androids: these are just a few of the colorful characters in Asimomitis’ (Water into Wine, 2015, etc.) stories. The collection opens with, Rosy Rings Around, a relatively tame tale of a flailing American writer reminiscing about his licentious college years in Greece. From there, though, things get strange. The collection weaves in and out of family dramas, sci-fi tales, crime noir, and most often, strangers’ bedsheets. The majority of the stories are set in Greece, past and present, although the protagonists (almost all older males) aren’t otherwise connected in any way. If there’s a central theme in this collection, other than sex, it’s big metaphysical dilemmas: what is God? What is mankind’s purpose? Can we save the Earth from ourselves? Sci-fi entries such as Original Virtue and Live Well! heavily focus, for better and worse, on humanity’s demise, whether by succumbing to “virtuality” or by misusing natural resources. In many ways, they read like less-refined offshoots of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy, and they succeed in crafting a thinking man’s narrative. They often do so, though, by sacrificing action and compelling storytelling. The plots regularly drag under the weight of the characters’ ponderings, and with no storyline carrying over to the next, a big payoff never arrives. In stories set on a still-functioning Earth, Asimomitis exhibits a deep, complex understanding of Greek history and philosophy, and of the sociopolitical issues currently plaguing the country. Unfortunately, the stories obscure their intellectual offerings with superfluous erotic plot threads. Sex doesn’t necessarily equate to sexy—and that’s particularly true in this collection, in which men regularly cheat on their wives or stalk, fantasize, or sleep with women half their age, most of whom happily offer themselves after only a brief meeting. Overall, some readers may find that these encounters feel more sleazy than sensual.
An ambitious collection of wide-ranging genre entries that might have benefited from a more focused, cohesive approach.