just finished Davey Davis' X, which feels very much like an heir to Patrick Califia's lesser-read work (and only published novel, iirc) Doc and Fluff.
It's not that they're particularly similar. Beyond starring transmasculine protagonists who have a ton of BDSM sex, much of it well outside of SSC or RACK paradigms while navigating romantic relationships, sex work, and queer intracommunity conflict... they're pretty dissimilar in tone, politics, approach to character and relationship. I'm not sure I particularly enjoyed either, and I have thwarted feelings about where to place them on any objective rating scale.
But there's something to be said for the fact that there's not much out there like it: dystopias often focus on a promised hero (especially in the YA vein of Divergent/Hunger Games), or an everyday office schmuck (ah — Calvin Kasulke's several people are typing), or grizzled survivors (Walking Dead, various zombie comedies, Torrey Peters' infect your friends and loved ones). Not a lot start from the lives of people already on the outside of society structures, struggling to make rent & stay housed just on a normal day. People who just function under passively, banally evil bureaucracies in futuristic worlds that are near-identical to modern reality.
(the treatment of bureaucratic evil also feels in line with Bornstein/Sullivan's approach to nearly roadkill's fumbling internet regulators, although that book's world is certainly more fun and less graphically violent & dour than Califia or Davis.)
curious whether there's an entire genre of banal dystopias that I need to hunt down, or whether this is just a strange trans stub-genre that rears its head once a decade and disappears.
Catching up on the LaRocca craze, as I managed to entirely miss the hype (which I guess? occurred? via people on TikTok hating on things have gotten worse since we last spoke). Not sure how I missed it, as it's queer body horror that makes people mad. aka. my genre.
you've lost a lot of blood manages to meld two wildly different premises: the cold-blooded queer murderer, vis a vis Poppy Z Brite's exquisite corpse, and time loop/virtual reality shenanigans (Cronenberg –> eXistenZ?) through a nested novella. The murderer and his boyfriend argue about the nature of art & horror vs. exploitation (lol) while characters in the murderer's book have a very bad time running from horrific creatures while trapped in a madman's postmortem magnum opus. Also, poems are threaded in. There's a lot of philosophy and genre commentary packed in here, at times sarcastically so, and some of it is fun but some of it is just annoying. Still, the collection as a whole was fun, weird, creepy, etc. Never quite grabbed me at the character level, but consistently entertained at the conceptual one.
we can never leave this place landed less well for me. a tale of a girl living in sewage in a crumbling home that her mother refuses to abandon, even as war rages around them. after her father dies (while trying to abandon them), her mother takes in the malicious Rake, who promises to bring back the girl's father. Which is, of course, a trap. There's a lot going on in this one, nearly all allegorical, and for me there was just too much metaphor and not enough literal for everything to work for me. it's about grief & survival, but through the dark fairytale lens with indulgent prose and symbolic characters. eh.