Tripping Through The Universe
by Ellen Fisher, Jaide Fox, Ashley Ladd, and Shelley Munro; paranormal (2005)
New Concepts Publishing, $5.99, ISBN 1-58608-597-2

This erotic paranormal romance anthology seems to be on a mission to eradicate anything appealing that may be associated with the concept of shagging one's brain out. Barring Ellen Fisher's story, the other three stories are like some freaky porn show featuring animated clay puppets. I don't know whether to laugh or hire an exorcist.

Even then, Ellen Fisher's Farthest Space: The Wrath Of Jan is a parody of what seems like an amalgamation of a classic Star Trek episode and a typical 1970s T&A softporn science-fiction flick and it works best as that instead of a sensual romance. The reason for this is that I can't for the life of me figure out why any woman, Earthling or not, would consider the truly inept beefcake himbo hero Captain Steven T McNeill lifelong hubby material. It's not that he's some intergalactic playboy - which he is - it's that nature seems to have compensated his underendowed brain size with an overendowed penis. I have a great laugh at Cappy's foolishly allowing a naked female alien to distract him long enough for her to take over the spacecraft and boot him into deep space. Luckily for him, his second-in-command Vaish is the sensible one (that is, except when it comes to having realistic expectations when it comes to relationships with dim-witted himbos) and together they will make sure that things will be restored to normal at the end of the day.

This story is fun because the author cheerfully skewers good-naturedly not just typical Star Trek clich�s but also at Cappy's womanizing nature and his ego. Unfortunately, the author allows the hero to start believing again at the end of the day that the universe does revolving around his little head. Oh well. As a romance, this one causes me to scratch my head a little because Steve is at best to cherish to death or to two days after the first shag, if you ask me. But as a fun romp, it will do just fine. Heck, it's far more better than the three stories following it.

Jaide Fox's Earth Girls Aren't Easy sounds like some comedic romp but it's a sober and unfortunately ridiculous tale of some sex-mad despotic guy, Darion Jatara, who must be overcompensating for his utterly ridiculous name, forcing some rebel woman Chyna Lin to sleep with him so that our "dainty" heroine can give him the chance to "breed large sons on her". Chyna wants to escape but the best thing I can say about her is that I'm sure she can spell better than a Cassie Edwards heroine. This is a very typical space barbarian story. Personally, all those references to how huge Darion is, how dainty Chyna is, how he will breed her, how she will bear his sons, and what-not make me feel like giggling out loud because I find all this "Give it to me! Make me pregnant! Ayyyyy-iiiii!" thingies hilarious in a totally ridiculous manner. Misguidedly serious and lacking any camp element, this story is just cheesy and lurid without a generous side helping of self-awareness to make it palatable.

Ashley Ladd's Fully Functional tells the story of Gregg Baxter having invented some androids that can play the role of human servants. I don't know why he and his buddy Scotty Donovan make these androids "fully functional" (if you know what I mean) though. Oh yes, I forget: they're nerds. Sheesh. Gregg has been eyeing Scotty's sister Shannon for a long time now but he doesn't dare say those words. Instead, he invites Shannon over to his place to test-drive the androids, a part of him hoping to get some easy thrills as he uses his cameras to spy on her in the bedroom. Memo to Gregg: it's easier to create a fully-functional android that looks like Shannon. Seriously! And he's supposed to be smart?

Shannon is a pretty unlikeable twit, self-absorbed and far less funny than Ms Ladd believes her character is. Gregg is... well, he's like Bill Gates - he'll need a billion dollars to stop people from sniggering at him in front of his face. If I am Shannon, I would hesitate to marry him because I have this feeling that I would end up divorcing him a week later with the vacuum cleaner being named as the homewrecking third party.

Oh, and the androids get angry and try to revolt. This story is worth reading for that priceless scene of an angry chef-android forcing Shannon to eat liquorice sticks dipped in tuna, a scene that gives me so much pleasure because by that point Shannon's unfunny wisecracks and me-me-me whinings are really getting on my nerves and that method of silencing her can't be improved on in any way. Alas, the robots finally lose and my mood is ruined.

Shelley Munro's Interplanetary Love is next. In some distant planet populated by what seems like a legion of sex-mad nymphomaniacs, our hero Ekim Ramuk for some reason can only have oral sex and not the full-out thing. His tongue is numb and sore because every woman and her mother, it seems, throw themselves at him. On Earth, Carly Abercrombie cries and wails and all but goes into paralysis because her latest date tries to stick his hands into her underwear while they are dancing and this guy is just the latest in a string of disastrous dates. Maybe Carly should stop dating weirdos and start dating nice guys? I'm just saying. To make things worse, this emotional birdbrain is a cop. She holds guns, she has the right to use them, and I am glad that she is just a fictional character and not some real life person because Carly is a surefire candidate for the Most Likely To Start Shooting People Because She Is Tired Of Becoming A Pathetic Stereotype award.

These two meet through some Interplanetary Love matchmaking program and because Carly is such a pathetic loser that she doesn't start giggling when Ekim Ramuk tells her his name, it's lust, love, whatever. Not just tongues anymore, baby, they're going all the way! This time, Carly likes his fingers sneaking into her underwear. But Ekim has to make a movie (don't ask) and Carly of course believes that no man can ever love her (if she doesn't shut up, I can definitely believe her) and then there is some stupid big misunderstanding and... Sheesh, Ekim is a complete dim-witted himbo and Carly is a pathetic character who loves Ekim because he is the first man that doesn't act like a cartoonish octopus around her. These two characters have no chemistry and they are often too dim-witted to see the obvious or make reasonable decisions. This story is too contrived. The characters are obviously dumb for the sake of plot and the humor is forced, unless I'm the kind of person who will laugh hysterically at the idea of a man going down on a woman until his mouth hurts, which I'm not because that kind of humor is a little too obvious and crude for me to find amusing.

This anthology is just one of the many examples of the increasing schizophreny of the erotic paranormal romance subgenre. Are the authors making fun of their characters and sex or are they actually being serious when it comes to their awfully corny 1970s nerd-porn stories? It's a pity that so many authors seem to operate under the impression that sex has to be out-right campy and cartoonish. I'm waiting for that day when the hero yells "Thundercats - hoohhh!" when he reaches orgasm. How about it, people, more reasonably realistic erotic paranormal please?

Rating: 53

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