Deep Inside - Polly Frost
This was sent to me for review by the author, who described it as "erotic sci fi." My only experience of this has been from non-genre writers who write normal erotica and just stick in a cruel alien prince or something, and as with most cases of non-genre writers trying to slum it among the geeks, they fail miserably as decent SFF stories. However, there must be a reason that Frost would send her book to a genre reviewer such as myself, so I had high hopes that this would be something a bit different – I don't read enough erotica to know how well these stories compare with the rest of the field, but as SF, they work pretty well.
In a few recent anthologies I’ve reviewed, you may have seen me moaning about the lack of proper story endings – unlike the namble cocks of legend, short stories are always better with a barb at the end. Happily, almost all of Frost's stories deliver in this respect - for all that they're intended mainly as freaky-sex tales, the structures are sound and they do what short stories are supposed to do. There are some very interesting ideas in here too; while the demands of the genre means they're rarely developed beyond the potential for the pervy set-pieces, there's plenty of weird invention in the background. While there's a minor overload of Catholic schoolgirls, the body-piercing story Orifice is really quite disturbing, and there's some broad but entertaining humour in The Dominatrix Has a Career Crisis.
Frost's writing isn't brilliant, but again, I don't know whether (for example) the cartoony characterisation is a general erotica convention or just an accident of style. Despite the unusual sexual situations, there's also a slight overlay of vanilla cosiness to the proceedings, though this may well be the necessary dividing line between erotica and actual porn. Overall, this is better than any of the other erotic SF I've read, and the stories do work as decent enough SF in their own right, with the proviso that they are mainly in it for the bonking. Erotica's not really my thing, but if Frost ever moves the sex to the sidelines and writes straighter SF, I'd certainly read more of her work.