Our jolly little pirate gang is at it again … Welcome to VORTEX OF DESIRE, the latest anthology from Black Velvet Seductions! I admit, I love our anthologies. I love reading tales that are so diverse, and yet unified around a common theme. It’s fun to see what everyone came up with after being handed an assignment, you know? And it’s REALLY fun to market alongside my co-workers, instead of hyper-focusing on my own work. So without any further ado, check out the tales in Vortex of Desire!
“Aurelian Bliss” by Deborah Kelsey Lazaroff
My favorite type of science fiction is ‘historical’—Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley, etc. But ‘dystopian’ is a very, very close second. I think the best sci-fi acts as a cautionary tale, warning us of what the world could become.
“Aurelian Bliss” is set in just such a world. What I loved most about it was that the story is blatantly ‘erotic,’ and yet not ‘erotica.’ Deborah Kelsey Lazaroff manages to wrench a heartfelt sense of yearning from the off-kilter, steamy narrative. It gives the reader an emotional attachment to the characters, and—by extension—the oddball setting.
Fans of Creatures of the Night and “Stille Nacht” will love this tale!
“Cosmic Connection” by Angelika Devlyn
Space, the final frontier …
In an age in which science fiction is becoming more outlandish and life is starting to look like science fiction, there’s something to be said for a classic ‘spaceship exploring the universe’ tale …
“Cosmic Connection” … is THAT tale! I loved, loved, LOVED the female lead, Aurora! I just found her very relatable; I think it was her sense of loneliness that really resonated with me. When she finds her love interest, the reader is left asking ‘well, how did that happen?’
But this is science fiction; you’re supposed to ask that question! “Cosmic Connection” is “Star Trek” meets “The Twlight Zone,” both filtered through the author’s unique voice.
I am SO looking forward to reading more stories by Angelika Devlyn!
“Eden Dome” by Eileen Troemel
If there’s anyone who knows how to write dystopian sci-fi, it’d be Eileen Troemel. I’ve been a huge fan of her work since the vicious dark fantasy novel Dragon Lord’s Mate, and “Eden Dome” did not disappoint!
The best dystopian tales are not the ones that focus solely on the social chaos, or the hardships following the collapse of society. No, the best dystopian tales are the ones that also focus on what social collapse does to people: the way it makes them turn upon one another, and the unholy power structures that inevitably come about.
This tale is intense. Seriously.
I must disclose that there is some commentary in this tale that—while appropriate within the context of the story—might strike some male readers as offensive, and I feel the need to say this because my horror stories attract a fair few male readers. I believe it’s important to let readers know what to expect, just as Black Velvet Seductions did when they put a ‘trigger warning’ over my story “The Ritual.”
That having been said, “Eden Dome” is a gritty, dark, intense tale that’s not easily forgotten …
And I expected nothing less from the legendary Eileen Troemel.
“Her Blue Treasure” by Patricia Elliott
This is a rather strange tale. While it IS science fiction, it doesn’t FEEL like science fiction. Honestly? That’s a compliment. The mythical setting is so seamless that you cease to even notice it, and that’s good writing.
“Her Blue Treasure” feels more like a classic fairy tale, perhaps “Snow White” or “Cinderella.” There’s a certain timeless quality to it that seems like a throwback to Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm. The heroine Jasmine is very much the ‘girl next door’ type, and her personality enhances the realistic tone of the story.
Fans of Her Lover’s Face and Not You Again! will love this one!
“Humanity” by Nancy Golinski
Yep … the best sci-fi is a cautionary tale, one which reflects the fears of our day. In a world in which nukes getting launched is now a very really possibility, the story of a radiation-sickened refugee named Skye is rather haunting.
But “Humanity” goes even beyond fifties-style nuclear fears. In a world now tainted by something that the World Health Organization dubbed a ‘pandemic,’ humans have become less connected and more likely to engage the world via digital channels. In some sense, emotional connections have been replaced by algorithms and ‘compatability’ data compiled on dating websites.
“Humanity,” does what science fiction does best: it point outs the truth. And the truth is this: humans are more than data, and love is more than an algorithm.
Nancy Golinski was kind enough to assist me with my science fiction tale “The Protocols,” so I’ve always been aware that she knows a thing or two about the genre. It was wonderful to see her bring her own sci-fi to stunning life!
“Moon Colony” by F. Burn
Like Patricia Elliott’s “Her Blue Treasure,” “Moon Colony” doesn’t feel like science fiction. It feels real.
Much like Stephen King’s brilliant The Shawshank Redemption, “Moon Colony” deftly captures the sense of oppressive danger inherent to prison life. I’m also reminded of John Carpenter’s The Ghosts of Mars, which portrays the realistic sense of isolation that an ‘earthling’ would surely feel as a colonist on a foreign planet.
This story is strangely dark … which, of course, I have come to expect from F. Burn. Like her signature romance novel Secret Love, “Moon Colony” is written in a very brooding, introspective tone.
I love it!
“Prince Arawn and the Dawn” by Viola Russell
This is quite possibly the strangest tale in the whole collection. While most of the tales seem to be rather ‘dystopian’ or ‘space opera,’ “Prince Arawn and the Dawn” is written with levels of intrigue that seem almost on par with “Game of Thrones.” How she managed to squeeze an entire epic into ten thousand words is beyond me, but she did.
It’s fascinating how this tale subtly moves from a socio-political drama to a romance. I can’t honestly tell you where the shift takes place, but it does. The narrative is very smooth, and the characters well-drawn. I found the epic nature of the story to be absolutely fascinating. I’m a HUGE fan of stories about kings and queens and empires, and the interactions that fuel such worlds. In that sense … “Prince Arawn and the Dawn” is an AWESOME story!!!
“Somewhere with Trees” by Alice Renaud
I would like somewhere with trees, sir … Ever since the Sea of Love trilogy, I have been a HUGE fan of Alice Renaud’s writing! And this story really, really hit home. As a native of the world’s second-largest natural harbor and America’s largest naval base, I know well the loneliness and struggles of the average sailor. And professionally, I also understand the frustrations of dealing with any government entity.
This story feels real. The fictional ‘history,’ the otherworldly setting … all of it fades away as you slowly swim through the thoughts and feelings of the characters.
Alice Renaud is one of Black Velvet Seductions’ heaviest hitters …
There’s a reason for that.
“Stardust” by S.K. White
Has anyone seen the movie U.S. Marshals, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Downey Jr.? Imagine that story, but set in space …
S. K. White is quite possibly Black Velvet Seductions’ most notable science fiction author, the writer of the ground-breaking All Gone. Her ability to make the bizarre feel perfectly normal is incredible. (I mean, I can’t do that. When I write bizarre, yeah … it feels bizarre.)
“Stardust” is a space opera worthy of the iconic “Star Trek,” and I don’t say that lightly.
“Talitha” by Virginia Wallace (Review by Black Velvet Seductions author Suzanne Smith)
The character of Talitha offers the reader a grim, but accurate and interesting as hell psychological profile. The words used to describe her losing her virginity are very powerful (“Ben was not invading my body. No, he was trying to lovingly connect with it, and I welcomed his intrusion—even if the cost was a moment of pain.”) are definitely blurb material. The mention of tissue harvesting is substantial and thought provoking.
Even after I finished reading the story, I found myself wondering about Ben and Talitha’s future. In my opinion, the story is tight, with a dark eloquence in the words, and there is no fat to trim. It was a really good read.
“The Grey Mission” by Angella O’Hanlon
The building architect did not believe in elevators, so a ramp wound its way up to the 75th floor. In the centre was a glass construct of offices and office space, yet not a single window had a view of the outside world. It was a building within a building …
GREAT opening! I love descriptive writing. This opening paragraph creates a sense of foreboding, and immediately sets up an off-kilter, Tim Burton-esque tone. It only gets better from there.
The romance between Illyanna and Bart is extremely realistic. They interact with a chemistry that many couple can only envy. This is one of the most expressive, fluidly-written short stories that I think I’ve ever read. This is the first story I’ve read from Angella O’Hanlon …
I hope there are more to come!
“Repo My Heart” by Zia Westfield
His hands captured her bottom and brought her against his jutting length … Kira closed her eyes and let herself be swept away on a trail of shooting stars that took her higher and higher until the galaxy burst into brilliant colors.
Was there ever any doubt that Zia Westfield is God’s gift to literature?! DAMN, y’all! Just … damn …
Zia is a writer after my own heart. There is an ever-present element of wry humor—and occasionally, even silliness—in her writing. (See also her character Sal, the smart-mouthed duck. And yeah, that wasn’t a typo. I actually said ‘duck.’) Her writing doesn’t take itself all that seriously … which, ironically, invites the reader to take it very seriously.
This story came to me a day late, but DEFINITELY not a dollar short! I’ve loved Zia’s shorts ever since “Bewitching the Wolf.” Not only was that a heart-melting, surreal story, Oggie the drunk-ass leprechaun was ONE funny mofo!
So yeah … Oggie would be proud of “Repo My Heart”! Or, at least, he would if he wasn’t too shit-hammered to actually read it …
So for now, that’s IT, y’all! Yep, Vortex of Desire, by Black Velvet Seductions … Pre-order it TODAY!!! https://amzn.to/41ro29P