Spidermilk by Konrad Hartman
Review by Voodoo Lynn
Eddie Stover, private eye, lives in a future where artificial humans called LifeMates serve consumers as a purchasable commodity. When Stover takes a wandering daughter case, the search for the missing woman plunges him into a world of hijacked LifeMates, psychadellic milk, and a bizarre spider-worshiping cult. As the thrall of his old addictions and the enticements of the woman he promised to protect threaten to consume him, Stover is faced with the realization that he cannot escape the choice love forces him to make. Spidermilk by Konrad Hartman, published by Forbidden Fiction.
This book is a cyberpunk journey into a world with a lot going on. It reminded me of Battlestar Galactica in a way, with the involvement of cyborgs being a part of everyday life. It’s evident the author researched spider venom extensively to bring the venom/breast milk combinations across as a true reality. This book is not for the faint of heart or easily shocked.
LifeMates are cyborgs, created in this world to fulfill human interaction and realize sexual desires. They can be used in the privacy of your own home, or for online symbiosis sex. I enjoyed the image of LifeMates like Abe Lincoln and Jesus walking down the street with their owners.
The main character, Eddie, is a private eye who has an addiction, but I could not connect to him. He is a character that just allows horrific, amoral things to happen without much interest in the turn out. Despite my disconnect with the lead, I found some things to enjoy.
I found the breast milk with spider venom inside, interesting. Different venoms have different properties and junkies breastfeed to get their fix. The feeding is erotic and nurturing. The coolest character is a milking woman named Sveta. From the first time we read about her, the author has painted this image of a lovely, nurturing, wise and beautiful woman. Unsurprisingly, she is the head of a cult and she carries with her the full embodiment of what an ancient priestess would look and act like. Indeed, at her introduction she is described as wearing a long, white toga-style dress that accentuates her natural beauty and bright green eyes. Her character is warm and inviting and extremely seductive. It is easy to see how the female lead in the story is drawn into this strange underworld. I found myself intrigued and attracted by her and if I had met her in real life, I cannot say for certain that I wouldn’t willingly go with her to her world. At least for a little while anyway. I also enjoyed the wit of the name of one of the lactories, “Creamtime.” I found the disclaimer in the front, telling me not to use it as an instruction manual, very entertaining.
There is an intense scene where a person’s consciousness is trapped inside a disembodied head that’s been gagged and blinded. Imagine being trapped, able to think, but nothing else. This image haunted me for days.
It took me a hundred pages to get into this story because there wasn’t enough information to help me understand the character’s motivation. I just couldn’t connect to the main character.
Also, a brutal, gruesome rape scene was just too much. I’ve been involved and exposed to various forms of human interaction. I am all for pushing boundaries and stretching comfort zones, but the rape scenes were just so horrific, it was a turn off, not a turn on for me.
I do, however, like that the author blurs the line of acceptable behavior. It’s a machine, but is it okay to brutalize a machine that looks like a human being? Do they have feelings? Do they deserve human compassion and respect? Or has humanity sunk so low that we must create objects to displace our internal animal cravings on without guilt?
If you like movies like “Salo” and “I Spit on Your Grave”, you will enjoy this book.