Monday, April 20, 2009

What Worse Place Can I Beg in Your Love? by Syd McGinley

TITLE: What Worse Place Can I Beg in Your Love?
AUTHOR: Syd McGinley
PUBLISHER: Lyrical Press
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 10k)
GENRE: Gay sci-fi erotic romance
COST: $1.50

Being captured on an alien planet is hard enough. Being submissive and sold as a pet to one of those same aliens might be a dream come true…

I bought this short story at the recommendation of a friend of mine, who’d read it, liked it, then came back to me a few weeks later to tell me how much more she liked it upon reflection. Now, after having read it myself, I think I understand what she meant. At first pass, this is a rather simplistic short story, slightly disturbing if you’re not comfortable with some of the D/s aspects or alien sex. I can’t even say that I was moved one way or another by it. The story is told in first person, and much of it has the rhythm of, “This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened…” The two lead characters aren’t even named.

Yet, well after I’d finished the story, I found myself thinking on it some more. I still wasn’t emotionally entangled with the characters, but I couldn’t stop thinking about them. The lead – a submissive human who doesn’t wish to have to make any decisions – retains an odd sort of individuality and strength, in spite of his many passive choices and lack of control within his situation. I wondered if it was due to the perspective – completely in his head – or because of the actions that transpire, and even now, have not reached a satisfying conclusion. It’s likely a combination of both. The narrator coaxes the reader into his head, and because he doesn’t have a name, subsequently usurps the reader’s identity. Or this reader, anyway. It becomes, not a story, but a diary of events, and with no embellishments to the prose, uncomfortably easy to claim as your own.

There are a lot of potentially disturbing elements in this story that might bother more sensitive readers. This is not your traditional D/s story. The narrator has no say in his circumstances, and he becomes a pet in every sense of the word. He lives in a cage, and is exercised as a pet, fed as a pet, and punished as a pet. The addition of his owner’s sexual release is merely a recognition of the narrator’s sentience, and in fact, though it’s starkly described, I found it more clinical than erotic. There is also the matter that the alien is very much one. There is no anthropomorphism here. He has alien habits, moves like an alien, and looks like an alien. The narrator never lets you forget that.

I think I understand what it was my friend meant now. This wasn’t a story that engaged my emotions, but rather challenged to think about it beyond its simple structure. I’m not sure I’d read it again, though considering how much I’ve thought about it afterward, that’s likely unnecessary. The characters are already ingrained. That’s a lot more than I can say about most stories, especially short ones.


7/10 – The simplistic style isn’t very engaging, and it felt like telling more than showing more than once, but it works sufficiently well for a short story of this length.

Hero #1

7/10 – Sympathetic and surprisingly realized

Hero #2

6/10 – His alien nature remains so for much of the story, though it’s the lingering aftereffects that strikes me the hardest

Entertainment value

7/10 – For the way it made me think long after I’d finished it

World building

7/10 – The detail might be scarce in parts, and it might not be the most originally presented, but by the end of the story, it feels like this other world really exists.



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