Friday, May 11, 2007
Feeling very spicy
A couple years back I came across the following call for submissions by editors Jay Lake and Nick Mamatas for their forthcoming anthology, "Spicy Slipstream Stories" --
From Spicy Detective's (circa 1930s) submission guidelines:
'In describing breasts of a female character, avoid anatomical descriptions.
If it is necessary to have the girl give herself to a man, or be taken from him, do not go too carefully into details...
Whenever possible, avoid complete nudity of the female characters. You can have a girl; strip to her underwear or transparent negligee or gown, or the thin torn shred of her garments, but while the girl is alive and in contact with a man, we do not want complete nudity.
A nude female corpse is allowable, of course.
Also a girl undressing in the privacy of her own room, but when men are in the action try to keep at least a shred of something on the girls.
Do not have men in underwear in scenes with women, and no nude men at all.
The idea is to have a very strong sex element in these stories without anything that might be interpreted as being obscene or vulgar.'
From Bruce Sterling's essay, "Slipstream", from Catscan #5:
'It is fantastic, surreal sometimes, speculative on occasion, but not rigorously so. It does not aim to provoke a "sense of wonder" or to systematically extrapolate in the manner of classic science fiction.
'Instead, this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the late twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility. We could call this kind of fiction Novels of Postmodern Sensibility, but that looks pretty bad on a category rack, and requires an acronym besides; so for the sake of convenience and argument, we will call these books "slipstream."'
We'd like a bit of both for Wheatland Press's latest anthology, Spicy Slipstream Stories! What we're looking for is work that embraces both the traditions of the old "spicy" pulps (not just adventure, but adventure and bosoms out to here!) and the stylistic innovations and reader affect of that non-genre genre, slipstream. And when we say embrace, we mean embrace, the way a sweaty and bruised naif cut free from a phallic V2 rocket by a square-jawed test pilot will embrace her savior."
What red-blooded American skiffy postmodernist could resist that one? Alas, as happens too often in the world of small press, Wheatland Press proved unable to complete the project. So I was delighted to hear this week that the anthology has found a new home at Lethe Press.
Wondering what spicy slipstream looks like? Here's a tease.
by Chris Nakashima-Brown
“Bob Denver,” said Captain Betty, “is going to be murdered by assassins from FEMA. Deal with it, get your ass over here, and oil my back.”
The fully reclined sun chair rattled slightly as she turned over onto her stomach. I stood. The balcony of her penthouse suite in the abandoned Hotel Le Meridien looked out over the black water of Canal Street and the French Quarter. The silent city mostly only spoke up at night now, with the sounds of gunfire, swamp boats, and helicopters.
“And while you’re at it,” she added, “can you juice my music?”
I picked up her emergency radio/music player and put a dozen hard cranks into it. Moments later, the mellow vibes of remixed white boy bossa nova lounge drifted over the railing.
“Aaahhh,” she sighed with a feline stretch. “That’s more like it.”
Her uniform hung from a chair nearby, blue and gray cotton festooned with insignia representing her status as commanding officer of the Coast Guard’s 3rd Psychological Operations battalion. Nearby, the handcuffs she had allowed me to remove, evidence of her confidence that she had my custody fully secured.
“Come on, already,” she said, reaching down to open her book, a dog-eared copy of Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany.
I sat on the edge of her chair and grabbed the Bain de Soleil. The Gulf sun painted a beautiful landscape in miniature across the muscular but feminine V of her back, a palette of Aryan bronzes interrupted only by the flaming reds of her shampooed tresses and the shimmering lines of the bikini that had been revealed when she stepped out of uniform.
She picked up her Cuervo rocks off the concrete floor and took a long sip. I squirted a load of oil onto my palm and warmed it with friction, summoning wafts of coconut, aloe and hot chocolate into the air.
“Don’t forget to unsnap me,” she said, turning the page.
Perched softly on the small of her back, I reached down and slid open the tiny plastic latch of her bikini top. The straps fell to either side, revealing the field of tiny goosebumps along the bronzed marshmallow serrations of her well-formed spine. I ran my oiled hands along the underside of her lats, felt my way over the curves of her marvelous glutes, pushed strong splayed digits up the full expanse of her back. Time stopped as I repeated the process with slight variations in an infinite loop, watching the tones of her flesh darken subtly before my eyes, mirroring the dappled light of the after-storm sky.
In the endless moment, I forgot about Bob Denver and the myriad other unsettling conspiracies and rebellions I’d heard in the preceding hours of this long strange day marooned in the disaster area. Her Bain de Soleil was a narcotic, predatory catalyst of some antediluvian pheromones that summoned the reptile below.
She sighed as the massage released the formalized artifices of military command, my fingertips transmitting a premonition of more intimate interactions to come. Her presence pulled my head closer to hers, and I sucked in a lungful of the fresh radiance of her aromatherapied hair. Dhalgren dropped to the ground and she closed her eyes.
“Stupid fucking book,” she said, squirming anxiously under my hands. “That little fag just wanders around among the looters. Nothing happens. Where are the goddamned cops? You want me to read 900 pages of this?”
I looked at the raging orb of our warmed sun through the haze of a tropical afternoon. The eye of Ra provoked, glaring though the humid haze.
“Grab the handcuffs,” she said, eyelids getting heavy, albeit not in a sleepy way.
In the street below, a pair of guys who looked like refugees from the 1954 L.L. Bean catalog paddled a shallow draft canoe toward the Mississippi River and the West Bank beyond. The guy in the stern even had a rain hat and a pipe. A wounded woman lay propped against the gunwales, wrapped in gauze.
“It’s Mark Trail,” I said, clamping one cuff onto Captain Betty’s right wrist and the other to the railing. “Suppose he’s one of the revolutionaries?”
She rolled over, readiness in her smoky eyes. The shimmering bikini top barely preserved the last touch of her modesty, held in place only by the proud architecture of her ample bosom.
“Come here, prisoner,” she said.
“Sorry,” I said, grabbing her 9mm Beretta, a cold bottle of water, Dhalgren, and a box of ammo. “I need to go find Penelope.”