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Posts by Justine G
I couldn’t tell you what I was expecting from Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos, because I honestly did not know at the time I opened the book. I mean, ever since my first teenage daydreams in which I imagined myself as Lavinia Whately waiting up there on the mountaintop for her extra-dimensional paramour/sire, I’ve known (in that way that a girl always knows what’s a turn-on and what’s not) that the fiction of Lovecraft had some pretty deep currents of sexuality running through it. You’d have to have industrial-strength blinkers welded to your temples to not see it… though I’ve since learned that those devices must come as part of the standard issues HPL Fan Kit, if sales of our own NECRONOMICUM magazine are anything to go by.
And I guess it was those blinkers that I expected to be part of the package with this book. (Okay, I did expect something, I guess.) I expected that it would read as a dry, scholarly, “yes, but actually…” sort of half-examination of Lovecraft’s use of sexuality in his work, maybe somewhat like the limp-wristed wave-it-away analysis of his (and let’s just face it already!) crazy-virulent racism.
Well! I am very happy to report that this is not the case! Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos goes deep, and then deeper still. No dirty stone is left unturned. The level of Mr Derie’s research here is, charitably, exhaustive. So exhaustive, in fact, that even I (a mere toiler in the smut vineyards myself, though with a special focus on the niche of Lovecraftian weird-erotica) was pleased to learn of new authors to read, new books and magazines to check out. I’m overjoyed to know how strange this niche is, and that I’m not alone in pulling what I do from Howie’s miscegenating Mythos!
Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos is broken up into four sections. The first examines Howard himself: his sexual life as revealed in his personal writings and correspondences with members of his writer’s circle and the women in his life, including Sonia Greene, who he was married to briefly. Is this part juicy? Not really… but! it reveals that HPL was not necessarily the prim asexual being that his fan club would like to have us believe. Sure, the old boy was a late bloomer, but given time and experience (and had he not died so young, of course) we would have possibly seen a much enlightened person in matters sexual (and otherwise) in his later years. I’ve never been all that into reading about Lovecraft the Man, but this was an enjoyable trip into his letters and life.
The second part of the book deals next with the works themselves with an early focus on the obvious choices (like Dunwich Horror and Shadow Over Innsmouth) before having some interesting fun with more the more obscure stuff. Just as a for-instance: I’d not twigged to the homosexual implications of the relationship between Edward and his wife Asenath in The Thing on the Doorstep but Derie has, namely, that’s not really Asenath at all. It’s her dad, possessing her body! Probably there was no Asenath at all, which brings up all kinds of weird stuff dealing with gender and presentation and so on. Very cool (not to say Freudian!), and there’s a lot of this kind of in-depth insight into the stories here, which I really appreciate. After reading this, I feel like I should carry the book around with me, to open up and shove under the eyes of tut-tutting doubters when I encounter them. “See?!” I’ll say. “Sure, sometimes a tentacle is just a tentacle, but come on.”
Third part examines how the sexuality of the Mythos has been interpreted and exploded and remixed over the decades by other writers. Easily, this is my favourite section, with examinations of Ramsey Campbell (the Master!), McNaughton and Pugmire and Caitlin Kiernan (I love her stuff!) and names I hadn’t heard of but will now seek out, like Stanley Sargent and Edward Lee. Really, if you’ve been trawling through the bookstores despairing of finding decent horror/weird erotic work, this is your guidebook, right here. It could easily be marketed as Best Weird Erotica of the 20th Century (a book I hope Derie decided to write or edit at some point)!
(I should mention that my own Blackstone Erotica series gets a thumbs-up in the chapter on the recent surge of Lovecraftian erotica that’s been made possible by the rise of the electronic book. I could brag here and say that obviously Mr Derie has good taste, but honestly, I’m just too humbled to be mentioned in the same pages as some of my own idols to go that far. It’s a thrill, and certainly won’t help put me off my delusional goals of writing stardom!)
Derie uses the ebook revolution to tip the book into the fourth and final section, in which he delves into the truly seedy underbellies of the wider pop culture to examine some strange artifacts: the films, the comic books (again, I had no idea so much material had been, and continues to be, produced in this niche), the marital aids (yup!) and so on. The beautiful thing about this chapter, and indeed everything before it, is that Derie’s tone is never nudge-nudge-wink-wink… it’s a serious examination, and though not without a certain humour, it never devolves into snickering. I think that’s important, and I’m glad he went that route with his presentation.
Sex and sexuality in the Mythos is a deep and rich vein that continues to be mined for dark treasures, and if you’re at all disposed to digging for gems, or maybe crafting a few of your own from the raw materials, then this book needs to be on your shelf, ladies and ghouls!
So, I trust we’ve all gotten over our sticky prudishness re: the intersection of Lovecraft’s Mythos/general philosophy and the vast and pulsing arena of human (and non-human) sexuality? Yes? Good. Moving on! Here are my Top 5 picks (and one Honourable Mention) for the Sexiest Lovecraftian Stories…
Le Ciél Overt by Kirsten Brown
For me, Lovecraftian sexuality is all about going that extra mile, y’know? What swims in those black seas of infinity, and more importantly, what are it’s turn-ons and turn-offs? I’m not a post-coital cuddler by any stretch, but will it call me in the morning? I’m omni-sexual in my literary tastes, and trans-humanist everywhere else, so I like any erotica that takes me Beyond the usual limitations of form and function. In Brown’s story here, the narrator explores a dead zone in Lovecraft’s Arkham where an extra-dimensional incursion took place years before. There are hints and signs, teasing evidence of a Presence, and the Big Reveal triggers a reaction in the narrator that made me clap my hands with joy. I may have even said you go, girl! which is a completely atypical thing for me to do. Great story. You can check it out in the amazing anthology from Dagan Books, Cthulhurotica.
5. The Black Stone by Robert E Howard
For me, this is the story that started it all. My whole weird-erotica experience has its germination right here, in the wild hills above Stregoicavar. Witch-cult orgies beneath cyclopean stone pillars? Blood and sacrifice? Hellish visions visited upon wandering poets? Hideous toad-deities getting off to the whole sordid display? Hells yes. Howard’s story has it all.
I was so taken with The Black Stone that when a girlfriend asked me to write her “something hot and weird” I couldn’t help but head up into those hills. That was six years ago, Tracey is long gone (miss you, hun!), and the short piece I wrote then has been expanded into the Blackstone Erotica series. Now, as a story, The Black Stone is not all that erotic (though Howard’s muscular action style does help it along) but it’s hints and florid description of awful things done in service to even more awful things from Beyond make it a classic. You can find this one in a bunch of decent anthologies.
4. Infernal Attractors by Cody Goodfellow
Two words: Tillinghast Resonator. You’d have to be some kind of dyed-in-the-wool uber-prude to miss the sexy-fun-times implications of the dimensional barrier-bustin’ device that features in Lovecraft’s story From Beyond. A harmonic machine that allows the user to see the alien beings that “float and flop loathsomely” through the very air and matter of their mundane reality? Come on. It’s the through part that filmmakers like Stuart Gordon and authors like Cody Goodfellow have rightly fixated on: the Tillinghast Resonator is the ultimate sex toy.
In Infernal Attractors, a femme fatale enlists the aid (well, it’s more of an enslavement) of a nebbish-y engineer to help her construct a Resonator, with a singular goal: to finally locate, lay, and in the end, destroy, the ultra-telluric fuck-beast that’s been feeding off her sexual energy since puberty. Some of the language in this story is completely psychedelic and transcendent, the descriptions of transhumanist congress with demonic phantom-crustaceans is totally transporting. It is a sexual chakrapocalypse painted in neon colours and glowing at full strength, with a great Lovecraftian ending, too. Beautiful. This one shows up in Cthulhurotica as well, and it’s easily one of the strongest tales in there.
3. Babymama by Kenton Hall
Full disclosure: this tale is brand-spanking new, from a brand-spanking new writer, and I chose to include it in the weird-erotic anthology I edited earlier this year, Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath. Hall grabs the reader by the delicates in the very first line and doesn’t let go through a torturous narrative of raw sex and stripped-to-the-bone emotions. It’s all very real, very literate, very immediate and visceral. Also, hot. The narrator, and the personification of his libido (which he names Steve) meet the girl of their dreams, and one thing leads to another, and then another, and another. The question posed by Brown in Le Ciél Overt is answered here: what happens when you fuck a god? What happens to you? Nothing good, but possibly something better than good. I loved this one immediately, with it’s deft examination of the plurality in us all, and I hope to read more from Hall in future.
2. The River of Night’s Dreaming by Karl Edward Wagner
This is technically a King In Yellow/Carcosa tale by Wagner, and not specifically Lovecraftian, but the sense of dread, cosmic ennui, creeping madness, and forbidden lusts satisfied in dark rooms really does it for me. It has a wonderfully Victorian-era repressive feel to it: corsets and straightjackets, outer social niceties binding an inner world of insanity and incest. Think The Pearl, but written in the world of Chamber’s The Repairer of Reputations. Something, too, about all the evocative King In Yellow name-checking… Cassilda, Constance, Castaigne, the C’s and S’s just drip off the tongue, sliding through a slick narrative with ophidian ease. Dig it. This story shows up in The Hastur Cycle from Chaosium and I’ve just learned it was also made into an episode of the cheesy Canadian/British softcore/horror TV series, The Hunger. I… I probably won’t watch that. You go ahead, if you want.
1. Ink by Bernie Mojzes
Mojzes’ story takes a while to get into, but it’s worth the somewhat tough initial slog through what feels like a derivative noir potboiler. A girl goes missing, the mother hires a detective to track her down, and what he finds is an Eldritch Abomination that holds a kind of transhumanist sexual court in a seedy bar near the river. Again, getting it on with a Great Old One: what is that even like?
In answering that question, it’s important to me that the story not simply devolve into standard hentai. Much as the inclusion of tentacles does not make a horror story Lovecraftian, neither does the intrusion of those tentacles into the usual places make a weird-erotica story Lovecraftian. And Ink does not go to the usual places, expanding the very idea and practice of sex into a kind of super-space of complete sexual and genetic expression. There is horror here, but also ecstasy: the body is used as a vehicle to transcend itself, and we come out the other side of the experience (and the story) changed. More. Different. Better. And isn’t that why we fuck in the first place? You can find Ink (and quite a few other very excellent pieces) in the anthology Whispers In Darkness from Circlet Press.
What are your favourite Sexy Lovecraftian tales? Get at me on the twitter @BLACKSTONErotic with your top picks!
Justine Geoffrey is the author of the BLACKSTONE Erotica series, Orgy in the Valley of the Lust Larvae, and Seawater & Stars: the Last Novel of Gideon Stargrave. She’s also the editrix (with Scott R Jones) of the weird-erotica anthology Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath, all from Martian Migraine Press.
Well, yesterday the tutting grandmothers and maiden aunts that work out their sexual frustrations stoking the boilers on the Censorship Engines of Amazon.com saw fit to relegate our new title, Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath, to the unsearchable dustbin that is their ‘mature content’ tag. What did this mean? It meant that until an hour or so ago, you could still find Conqueror Womb, if you knew where to look (ie. the Kindle store, specifically), and it also meant you wouldn’t find it, if you searched for, say, Lovecraft or Shub-Niggurath in the general search terms for Amazon.com itself.
Is this kind of thing a big deal? I mean, don’t most readers come to MMP titles because of something MMP authors say or do or post? Who goes searching for the term “conqueror womb”, anyway? Precious few, I’m sure, and I’m not sure I’d want to know anyone who would. (I’m sure you’re lovely people, but … you understand.)
So, why’d the grannies hit us, and hit us so fast? Conqueror Womb was released on the 10th. Of February. That’s right, a mere three days ago. We were alerted to the fact of our change of status by one of the collections authors, the sharp-as-a-goddamn-tack Jacqueline Sweet. Alarmed that they had moved so quickly, and just before Valentine’s Day, which was, you know, the whole reason for releasing this book this week, Scott immediately got on their case with this letter…
According to their spokes-granny, the cover (by friend-of-the-show and genius Glaswegian illustrator Garry Mac) was deemed to be “mature content”. Ladies and gentlebeasts, the original cover…
Beauty. That’s EIGHT breasts, at least. And, like Scott said, monstrous. And not all that sexual, even. In fact, Garry Mac’s Shubby here is feeding her Dark Young. Amazon, what do you have against breastfeeding mothers? she asks in something nearby to complete seriousness. Well, whatever problems they have with that particular miracle of nature, the upshot is they asked us to change this. Remember, too, that we had to confront them on this issue: if we hadn’t noticed their action, they wouldn’t have mentioned it to us at all. If you’ve never seen one of their your cover is too smutty emails, they look like this.
Well, gosh, Cecilia, thanks for being so up front and honest and understanding about Amazon’s behind-the-scenes manipulation of our product!
So, yeah, we changed the cover. And if you think it was easy for us to move the text elements north to cover up our beautiful, regal Shub-Niggurath, then let me tell you honey, IT WASN’T. (Sorry, Garry! We’re sooo sorry!) Here’s the revised cover…
Not exactly a hatchet job, but we are saddened, still.
Now, here’s the thing: Amazon asks you to choose two categories for a title, and we, in an effort to be honest about the content of Conqueror Womb, chose Horror (obviously!) and Erotica (also obviously)… certainly CW is far more horror than erotica. Even we don’t think it appeals to prurient interests enough for anyone to reasonably get their rocks off, although you’re welcome to try. Scott felt, and I concurred, that we had been penalized for our transparency. And so the Martian Migraine response was a little testy, naturally…At this point, we pretty much threw up our hands. Wiser heads than ours nodded sagely and advised us that once a title had been flagged as mature, it was effectively done, kaput, as good as disappeared. Certainly, this has been my own experience with the first two Blackstone books (Red Monolith Frenzy and Green Fever Dream both got hit about eight months back, and sales of those has dropped noticeably — but hey, there’s the links, go, now, and buy a copy of each, just to rub it in their noses, please) and so we resigned ourselves to obscurity.
Then, this happened…
We fought Amazon.
We fought a rear-guard battle, granted, and we gave up some territory (those lovely mutant mammaries!), but we fought Amazon…
AND WE WON! We won. It can be done.
But, just to spite ’em, remember this, Migraineers: buy DIRECT from MMP and you’ll get the uncensored glory of the original cover AND exclusive website bonus content! Delivery may not be as swift as Amazon’s Whispernet (generally under 12 hours to your inbox) but you get our chummy personalities and sweet extra swag with the transaction, and our gratitude for supporting independent presses. It’s Valentine’s Day! Show your sweetie some weird love and pick up a copy of Conqueror Womb: Lusty Tales of Shub-Niggurath for a little light pillow reading!