Every once in a while, as the mood strikes me, I like to indulge in those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. These are books that don't always get a lot of press, and which rarely benefit from any prominent retail shelf space.
They're often an underground of sort of literature, best shared through guilty whispers, and often with embarrassed grins. These are our WTF Friday reads!
Wonderland, Oz, and The Dark Tower. Sliders, Quantum Leap, and Stargate. Whether it's on the page or on the screen, portal fantasy is one of the oldest tropes in science fiction and fantasy. While it's often abused as a lazy sort of storytelling cheat, it works best when there's interesting puzzle or mystery behind the portal itself to be paired with unique adventures on the other side.
That said, I'm not sure you'll find adventures any more unique than those offered up by Alana Melos in her Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles series. These are fun stories, vintage pulp adventures that are as absurd as they are erotic, driven by the magical mystery of the Janus Key. Like Dr. Sam Beckett, twin siblings Dirk and Debbie find themselves leaping blindly from one alternate reality to another, never knowing where they'll end up, driven not by good deeds, but by orgasmic encounters.
Not surprisingly, the first adventure (Rump Raiding Raptors) is the weakest of the bunch. Marred by several typos, some awkward narration, and a few confusing shifts of POV, it didn't make the greatest first impression. On top of that, the idea of a dinosaur-based society, with a horny Raptor cop abusing poor Dirk, just seemed a little too silly. It was original, however, and the erotic aspects were actually very well done.
Fortunately, the quality of both the writing and the storytelling improved dramatically with The Perils of Penetrating Pixies. It felt like there was more plot to this one, and grounding it in more familiar mythologies certainly made it more accessible. The erotic scenes here were both frantic and inventive, especially with Debbie's first erotic explorations by the tiny pixies.
Riddled by the Sphinx, the third book in the series, is where things really hit their stride. This one had a very Stargate feel with its take on an alternate Egypt, and the use of a living Sphinx as the erotic protagonist was actually quite clever. It's a fun, sexy tale, but also the first one where we begin to understand the dangers Dirk and Debbie face in losing themselves to such sensual temptations. Here is where that mystery/puzzle starts becoming more prominent.
Personally, I found Savaged by Sadistic Spirits to be the most uneven of the collection, but I give Melos full credit for introducing a new, Quantum Leap like twist. The whole 70s séance scene is actually very well done, complete with leisure suits and groovy slang, and while I found the story took a while to really hit its peak, Debbie's erotic mauling by unseen spirits (taking her on the ceiling, a la Poltergeist) is as chilling as it is erotic.
With Knob Gobblin' Hobgoblins, this first collection definitely ends on a high note. This is true pulp fantasy, complete with dragons, elves, water spirits, Amazonian warriors, and hobgoblins. Once again, it's Dirk's turn to provide the orgasmic energies for their next leap, but the way it's done (and the reasons for it) are fantastically creative. Not to give anything away, but his role as something of a surrogate conduit is suitably bizarre, and I particularly liked that Melos resolved his own doubts about his supernatural sexuality.
Despite a rocky start with the first story, The Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles turned out to be everything I could have hoped for. There's solid storytelling, great world-building, over-the-top eroticism, and plenty of geeky references for readers to pick up on. Given that she's just released the 10th volume, Reamin' Demons, here's hoping there's a second omnibus on the way.
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published April 4th 2015