By Lisabet Sarai
Welcome to the new Oh Get a Grip blog!
Okay, so we're not completely new – consider this an upgrade. We've fiddled with the format a bit, but the most significant change is the fact that we have expanded our roster of contributors, adding some of the smartest and sexiest authors on the planet. That way, we'll be able to offer you entertaining and thought-provoking posts every week day.
Our weekends are reserved for days of rest (or private frolic), or the occasional guest. If you're the sort of person who loves words and ideas, and you'd like to be our guest some Saturday, get in touch with one of us (you'll find our links on the About Us page) and we'll get you on the schedule.
We're sticking with the tried-and-true Grip formula, where each member posts on the same general topic, for a period of two weeks. If you're a new reader, you may be surprised at the variety of interpretations and perspectives that result. The common topic leads to a kind of dialogue that makes the Grip a rather special place.
For the next two weeks, our topic is “What are you reading?”
And what I am reading? As usual, I'm in the middle of several books, including a trashy French spy novel, dripping with sex, called Arnaque à Brunei, by Gerard de Villiers.I picked this up in a used bookstore, not out of intrinsic interest, but because I wanted to awaken my dormant French language capabilities since we'll be vacationing in France next month. In fact, the book's rather entertaining- though the extent to which my once-impressive French has evaporated has me a bit disheartened!
However, the book I want to talk about – rave about, really – is a new collection of erotica edited by Shanna Germain and Janine Ashbless, entitled Geek Love: An Anthology of Full Frontal Nerdity, from Shanna's own publishing company, Stone Box Press (http://www.stoneboxpress.com/). I don't think the book has been released yet. I have an ARC since I am reviewing it for Erotica Revealed. What a treat that is turning out to be!
Iremember when Shanna (one of my absolute favorite erotic authors) put out the call for submissions for this book. A lifelong nerd myself, I was sorely tempted to contribute, but life got in the way. From personal experience, I understand geek-appeal. Most of my lovers have been more than two standard deviations out in the IQ distribution. To me, mental muscle is far more arousing than the physical kind. Furthermore, being a bit of a social outcast has its advantages. Since we know we'll never “fit in” anyway, we geeks feel free to follow the dictates of imagination – including in the bedroom (or the many other locales where we exercise our libido). Despite the stereotypes (inexperienced and clumsy virgins) I've found that nerds tend to have powerful sex drives as well as a prodigious interest in erotic experiments.
So I really get the inspiration behind this book. Shanna and Janine offer a very broad definition of what constitutes a nerd. A fascination with mathematics, mechanics, or electronics – a love of books and the written word – a life focused on gaming, or comics, or creative anachronism – an obsession with science fiction (Trek-inspired or not) – coke-bottle glasses, good grades and interpersonal awkwardness – any or all of these can serve as geek credentials.
These variations on nerdity make Geek Love fabulously diverse, while still providing a general thematic unity. I am only about half way through the book (which includes twenty nine stories, more than two hundred fifty glorious pages), but I've already encountered a future where coffee is forbidden but BDSM can be ordered up in a hundred variations; a robot amanuensis lost in the desert; a secret society where those born to wear fur can play together; a female lab assistant who falls for the automaton her mentor is constructing; a AI librarian determined to seduce the flesh-and-blood woman who inherits her domain; a extra-dimensional civilization dedicated to rescuing gay men from the Nazi concentration camps; gamers and computer programmers, creative dominants and eager submissives, rock stars and rebels – all animated with that special spark of curiosity and intelligence that makes nerds tick.
This isn't intended as a review, so I'm not going to cite specific authors or stories. Suffice it to say that these tales are everything I personally seek in erotic fiction: original, gorgeously crafted, and seriously sexy.
Geek Love is more than just a collection of wonderful stories on a theme that resonates, though. The book is a work of visual as well as literary art. The four-page table of contents uses exquisite black and white photos of naked flesh, female and male, as its background. Scattered among the pages are erotic drawings (both color and monochrome) ranging from the comic to the sublime. (My favorite thus far is a luscious young woman wearing glasses, lying upon the open pages of a gigantic book, obviously pleasuring herself.) The first page of each story is printed on a background image somehow related to the story topic. Subsequent pages use a similar technique to remind the reader of the author and title.
I read most of my erotica in electronic form, mostly for convenience. Geek Love is clearly a book that cries out to be savored in print. I'll probably buy a print copy for myself once the book is released. I'm definitely planning to send it as a gift to a couple of fellow nerds who I know will appreciate it.
So how did this massive, complicated, expensive-to-produce book ever see the light? In a nutshell, the book was a labor of love. The Geek Love project came to fruition via a crowd-funding project on Kickstarter. The book includes four pages (in small print) of donor names. I want to personally thank them all. (I wonder why I didn't hear about the crowd-funding solicitation, since I definitely would have chipped in). Having put together a couple of anthologies myself, I know what it costs just to pay the authors a decent sum. This book also needed funds to pay artists and production designers, as well as to cover the higher printing costs associated with color illustrations. Geek Love is a small miracle, one that renews my faith in the world of publishing.
I'm reading the book slowly, savoring each salacious tale (though I may have to speed up if I want to finish in time for my review next month). I haven't enjoyed an erotic anthology this much is a long time. And I'm looking forward to holding a physical copy in my sweaty little hands.
Winding up this post, I realize that for me, at least, the Grip is also a labor of love. Every time I feel tempted to pass the torch to somebody else, or simply to close the blog down, something stops me. This is the third or fourth time we've reinvented the Grip since I came on board in February 2009. I love it too much to let it go.
I look forward to the posts by the other contributors, their insights and questions. These days one doesn't have that kind of conversation all that often.
Anyway, to welcome readers back to the new and improved Grip, we're having a small contest. Everyone who leaves a comment during the next two weeks (other than Grip members, of course) will be eligible for an ebook prize pack of titles from a bunch of the Grip participants. Comment on multiple days and you'll have more of a chance to win.
So come on by and tell us what you're reading – or comment on what we're reading. (Don't forget to include your email address in your comment.) You might just get some free additions to your TBR list.