Fatal Fetish edited by Toneye Eyenot
Review by Voodoo Lynn
Fatal Fetish is an interesting amalgamation of stories. You get everything from encounters in space to serial killers and sexual cannibalism to clowns, mechanical Jekyll and Hyde’s, yeti, goblins, djinn, redheads, and A.I. I learned new terms like ‘sissygasm’. The stories were engaging on various levels; obviously, some more than others. Let me also add that there are stories here that you will want to have ready access to a computer because the jargon utilized was such that I was completely unprepared for it and would’ve been lost had I not have been able to look the words up. It did make for a more culturally diverse read, I will admit.
There are plenty of stories here that make the ones you don’t care for, well worth the read. In fact, you may end up losing time over the ones you like, as I did. Let it be noted, that the ones I liked or were most disturbed by, had me re-reading them a second time, with the more lurid passages having me pass over those words again and again—solely for comprehensive purposes, of course.
So please, allow me to escort you into the world that is Fatal Fetish…
“Biscuits and Gravy, Those Wicked Little Things” by Essel Pratt
This is the first story in the anthology. Perhaps, I have a weak spot for science fiction, thanks to my father and my early exposure to Star Trek. Perhaps, it appeals to my deep fascination with space and all its dark mysteries and frontiers. Perhaps, it just appeals to my deep seated fascination and ultimate dream of, not only traveling in space but, to also engage in naughty activities while in said vicinity of it. Yes, that is an active interest of mine. This story however, gives me a very grim and real look into the dangers of space. (Thanks a lot E. Pratt, as if Mary Roach didn’t do enough of that!)
I don’t say this lightly. I have thought about all the possible consequences about having such relations in space however, this story doesn’t necessarily focus on that for me—though that is definitely something you can’t miss. What it does highlight for me is how distracted we humans can become if we are otherwise engaged in other immersive activities. What this author has done is manage to engage you in what seems like an everyday, happy go lucky story of two extraordinary people who have feelings for one another, who finally engage in said feelings and pay a most terrible price for it.
Oh, did I mention that this story takes place all within five pages? The author deftly pulls you in (even though you know you’re gonna read something horrific shortly) and then, hangs you out to dry, shall we say?
If you are a fan of “Guts” by Chuck Palahniuk, you are way ahead of the game here. If you are unfamiliar with this, don’t look it up if you wanna be surprised by this story! It’s urban legend meets science fiction.
In the end, this was my favorite story. It was shorter than I liked, but it sucked me in with its straight forward and descriptive, albeit disturbing detail.
“Life-Like” by Brian Glossup
This is my next favorite story and it also happens to be one of the longest in the anthology. It is so worth reading, especially if you like to be left questioning things. At first you think of it as a story about a lonely, older man in middle management and his needs, who decides to buy a sex-bot. You will find yourself questioning not only what is moral, and what should be expected when we purchase something, but where our rights end and where someone else’s begins. Or, do they even begin? Is there even a ‘someone ’?
Although, the lead character gives us hints that he may not be want we think. In the story we follow Malcolm as he goes to the company headquarters and places an order for his sex-bot. We know it’s a machine but, as he starts picking out her personality and, I’ll just call them her ‘parts’, things start getting really creepy.
The president of the bot company makes it a point to inform Malcolm that she is capable of learning and feeling, due to her electronic brain and that it’s best to keep her happy for “maximum satisfaction”. As he’s chooses her personality, the president inputs “SLAVE-MAID-COOK-SLUT”. Yup, I don’t like this guy anymore but, it’s just a machine, right? Property he’s paying for. When we decide to buy a new computer, we decide what programs we want installed, right?
I find it interesting when reading about how the sex-bot, ANNA, views her new master, she makes an immediate judgement call that I wonder how she is capable of making in the first place. (I mean, she didn’t go to Robot University. GO ANDRIODS!) When we get a general description of him, we’re told that
“His best shirt was stained and his good pants were ripped. He was overweight, overpaid and unattractive. The typical American.”
Damn. Where did that come from? Aside from the fact I find that a little insulting to a whole group of people, my question is, how did she come to this conclusion, fresh out of the box let’s say?
Poor ANNA. What comes next in her short life thus far is hours of brutalization. Her skin is so life like, that she is left with bruises all over her body. As the author tells us,
“Every inflicted pain was felt and processed through her electronic nervous system…teaching her positronic brain of his civilized barbarism.”
We see a new level of sentience beginning to form. She watches TV and learns about the ‘horrors of humanity’ until she discovers a channel where a woman is speaking about women’s rights and power. She has now reached a level of consciousness that makes her realize the true horror of her existence as a sex-bot. It’s here that she begins to plan a way to forever escape this situation. The climax of the story takes place next and, it is electrical. And violent. And disturbing. And unlike anything I’ve read before.
It is at this point find myself starting to think about what criteria we utilize to say with certainty, that something is alive? Had Malcolm treated ANNA better, more like a sentient being shall we say, would she have really been happy in her new existence? She seems to have free will and is capable of making decisions, even if it’s via execution of various computer programs. She’s intelligent and self –aware, don’t those things constitute a living being? It reminds me of Star Trek TNG’s episode “Measure of a Man.” In it, Commander Data (an android) is being forced into a dangerous procedure to study his positronic brain and to hopefully, create a whole new generation of androids like him. He tries to refuse, and Star Fleet orders him to do it anyway. He resigns, and is then told he can’t because he is Star Fleet ‘property’. He then has a hearing to determine his status with Star Fleet, to determine whether he is a sentient being and has rights, or not and just property. There’s this fantastic dialogue between Captain Picard and Guinan and she mentions that there has always been disposable creatures—beings whose welfare and needs wouldn’t have to be bothered with—a whole generation of disposable people.
Isn’t that what we are dealing with this story? Is ANNA property, or is she a sentient being with a conscience? Did that company create a whole generation of slaves? I think I can sum up the horrifying end of this story by utilizing a quote from Captain Picard with regards to whole generations of disposable people and the term ‘slave’.
“I don’t think that’s a little harsh, I think it’s the truth. But that’s a truth we have obscured behind a comfortable, easy euphemism. ‘Property’. But that’s not the issue at all, is it?”
If only Malcolm had heeded the warning he was given…
“An Excerpt of Yeti, Yearning” by Essel Pratt
I just wanted to give this one a mention because I find the idea of thinking like a sexually aroused Yeti interesting. This unusual story piqued my interest and I wish that they included a little more in the excerpt.
“Send in the Clowns” by Naomi Matthews
This one is a good one about psychopaths. In this case, a female with an obsession with sex and clowns. This is something I enjoy seeing—a strong, female, character being the antagonist. It’s interesting to read about how she slowly indoctrinates her boyfriend into becoming her sex-slave. Her reason for choosing him was pretty simple—he, and her last ex, both had a history of being jerks to women and not treating them well. Understandable yes, but that gives her no right to do what she does. The lengths she goes to, to get her boyfriend to be her permanent clown boy-toy is truly frightening and well worth reading about. I also want to mention that this is the story where I learned the new word ‘sissygasm’. A word that I never wanted to learn and now will never be able to forget.
If you are someone into reading about fetishes and horror, Fatal Fetish is for you.