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Best Fantastic Erotica
edited by Cecilia Tan
Circlet Press, 314 pages

Best Fantastic Erotica
Cecilia Tan
Cecilia Tan writes about her many passions, from erotic fantasy to baseball, from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of Black Feathers and The Velderet, and has edited over forty anthologies for the publishing house she founded, Circlet Press. Her fiction has appeared in Ms. Magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, Best American Erotica, and many other places.

Cecilia Tan Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Sex in the System

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Who doesn't like a good, well told, piece of erotic fiction? And if eroticism blends with horror or science fiction that's even better, an exciting mix of strong emotions, a feast for the imagination, a load of adrenaline able to make us forget the grey colours of everyday's reality and to expand the boundaries of daily life. Circlet Press, ever active in this field, provides a promising anthology deceivingly named Best Fantastic Erotica.

Alas, my friends, a warning. Don't let yourself be misled by the title: this is not one of the usual Year's Best anthologies, but simply a collection of the eighteen stories winning the publisher's contest for the "best of genre" original tales.

Predictably, the volume is a mixed bag of fiction of uneven quality, where sexuality in its different forms is the only common ground.

The opening story, "Monsoon" by Arinn Dembo -- by far the best contribution -- is a gentle, elegant and subtly disquieting piece where a photo journalist travelling in India is visited during the night by an unidentified lover who satisfies his physical and emotional needs.

In the accomplished and entertaining "Venus Rising" by Diane Kepler a sex doll ultimately restores a couple's failing sexual harmony whereas in the vivid and graphic "Marked" by Cody Nelson, two men share the pain and the pleasure linked to a mysterious mark, possibly a symbol of homosexuality.

The deliciously teasing "Nocturnal Emissions" by Joe Nobel depicts the temptations of the flesh sustained by a seventeenth century priest while providing a strong cocktail of historical and religious themes.

Kal Cobalt's "The Lift" is an offbeat, but effective story of cyber-sex, while Fauna Sara's "Caretaker" is a disturbing, powerful fantasy tale where girls are recruited to become the favorites of a male deity endowed with unusual sexual appetites.

Another good story is "Opening the Veins of Jade" by Reneé M Charles, a sensuous, stimulating piece where eroticism meets the delicate sensuality of Asian legends.

Unfortunately the remaining stories are unhappy attempts to explore the world of sexuality which leave the reader incredulous, unresponsive or downright bored either because of their poor literary quality or because of their inability to create that suspension of disbelief necessary even in the most daring erotic fantasies.

However, the Homo Eroticus hidden in each of us still remains hopeful and eagerly awaits the next book from the leering Circlet Press.

Copyright © 2008 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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