Editor Berman (Wilde Stories 2012, etc.) compiles an eerie, moving volume of gay-themed speculative fiction.
The various authors anthologized here write on different subjects ranging from a gay, humanoid cephalopod couple to a man tormented by the dead after his lover’s suicide. Despite the disparities, the collection comes together as a remarkably coherent whole, and none of the characters’ queer identities outweigh the telling of the tales. Furthermore, much of the work edges toward magical realism rather than standard sci-fi or fantasy. Several stories, such as Ray Cluley’s “Night Fishing” and John Langan’s “Renfrew’s Course,” are hauntingly sad; others, like Steve Vernon’s “Wetside Story” and Hal Duncan’s “Sic Him, Hellhound! Kill! Kill!” are comic romps with a side of the supernatural. In Duncan’s story, a visceral werewolf feels devotion and bloodlust with equal depth, while in Cluley’s story, Terrence, a fisherman of sorts, is inexorably pulled to the area around the Golden Gate Bridge, where his young lover had previously jumped. Every night, Terrence pulls strangely animate corpses from the water and follows their directions toward others of their kind. Cluley’s emotionally demanding story beautifully explores grief, love and ultimately futile efforts to save the dead. Berman expertly blends them, creating a work whose overall effect is entrancing, not depressing. Berman writes in his introduction, “Even in 2012, when it is far easier for two men to meet, to dine out, to hold hands, to dare kiss in public, to announce to open public their love or their parting…there are dangers. Men are still silenced. Men perish.” The stories’ occasionally horrific and fantastic bent adeptly conveys this danger as well as its daring.
An impressive collection brimming with originality.