by CC Bridges, futuristic (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-883-3
CC Bridges's Beyond Meridian is part of the Men In Space series, a futuristic gay romance special where in space, nobody can hear you cause the spacecraft to tilt 360 degrees with unbridled passion.
Ms Bridges, whose previous stories were published by Torquere Press, presents Captain Rick Raine who names his spacecraft Dina and is an out and proud "border rat". He's someone who isn't afraid to bend or even break the rules if it means making a shipload of money, in other words. If this is a movie, he would sport a five-hundred dollar stubble. Raine is minding his own business in a bar on Meridian one fine day when he is approached by Karl, a brash kid who seeks passage to Mendhem. The problem is, you don't go to Mendhem, a planet under the rule of a tyrannical despot, especially if you carry the, uh, goods of dubious legality the way Raine does frequently. When Karl offers Raine some nice goods - lingerie - that Raine can get good money for, Raine can't refuse that kid.
Karl's close friend had been sold to slavery and he is hoping that, with Raine providing transportation, he can swoop onto Mendhem, rescue Sam, and fly off in triumph. Whether they can succeed or not, one thing is for sure: in space, the day can be long and lonely, and sometimes even the manliest man needs some TLC.
I can do without the rather cheesy names in this story - Kashir, Neo Delhi, and Heijing come to mind - but all is forgiven, really, when I find myself having a really good time with this story. The pacing, the author's sense of pacing, and her brisk narration all keep me intrigued and entertained. The whole thing is too much fun, like a gay space adventure with a charming never-do-well rogue at the helm and his foil, the more straight-laced fellow, at his side.
I have never even heard of the author before Beyond Meridian, and now I can only say that if she keeps this up for the rest of her stories, authors like Nathalie Gray may face some serious competition in the realm of bad-ass romantic space capers.
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