Monday, March 24, 2014

Review of "Like a Trip Through the Mirror: Lesbian Love in Alternate Realities" ed. Kathleen Tudor

The five stories in this intriguingly focused collection of f/f erotic romance, draw inspiration from a wide range of fantasy and speculative fiction, everything from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass to The Butterfly Effect, True Blood, Quantum Leap, and the famous Mirror Mirror episode of the original Star Trek series. While authors seldom like to be reminded of their influences—“Gosh! You write just like [insert name here] . . .”—it is the true artist who knows how to take good preexisting story-stuff and rearrange its atoms into something dazzlingly novel. The great Twentieth century composer Igor Stravinsky once remarked, “a good composer does not borrow, he steals.” What Stravinsky didn’t mention—no doubt being too infatuated with his own drollery—is that a great artist coopts the older material in such a way as to make it wholly his or her own. (Then too, Fantasia notwithstanding, Stravinsky didn’t have a legion of Disney Corp. lawyers bound and determined to plug every loophole in the copyright statutes.)

Alternate realities, whether glimpsed fleetingly in a fitting room mirror (as in R. Anne Sawyer’s So Quite New a Thing) or experienced to their sensual full (Reflections by Kate Dominic) offer a fascinating and diverse range of ideas for fiction. Quantum possibility (new parallel realities theoretically created by each choice we make) and alternate personal history are explored with poignant and powerful effect in Annabeth Leong’s  The Universe Where Katie Lived, in which orgasm itself brings new dimensions into existence—an experience to which many lovers can well relate. In Kathlene Tudor’s Into Tipera—perhaps the most heavily traditional-sci-fi influenced story of the lot—a scientist defies authority and risks her life to prove her theories concerning the possibility of travel between alternate space/time dimensions. Vivian Jackson’s Game Fae is a delightful contemporary fantasy tale wherein an overworked video game designer finds herself drawn into a world more fascinating and sexy than the most extravagantly imagined cyber environment. 

Her whole body was electrified, ablaze, and needing. In this place she wasn’t alone, the only girl, the only gay girl, the only anything. She was part of the greater whole. Part of the faerie queen. A tiny fae tugged at her earlobe, shishing into her ear, tweaking a sweet spot of sensation just below, next to her head. Another found the pulse point in her neck and rubbed against it. Felt like the rough tongue of a cat, but warm and slick. God, to feel something like that on her clit. Laughter trilled in her mind. “Now you’re getting it. We aren’t bad faeries, we just like fucking. Open your eyes.”

Just one of many delights to be found in this marvelous collection. Enthusiastically recommended.

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