Beyond the Temperance Effect by S. Yates (review)

Tagline: Decades long space journey and a government mission tests the temperance of the crew

7&7 Anthology Book Cover

Virtue #4:  Temperance
Title: Beyond the Temperance Effect
Author: Serna Yates
Genre:  Science Fiction
Format:  Short Story (36 pages)

Series: 7&7 Anthology

Publisher: DSP Publications (May 2016)

Bonus:   Free on publisher’s site

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

DSP Publication’s anthology covers 7 virtues and 7 vices, and the theme of  Serena Yates’ short story is the virtue of temperance.

In this science fiction setting, a crew in hibernation for fifty years is awakened to prepare for colonization of a remote planet.  As the story progresses, it seems a key thing they were counting on isn’t quite working correctly, with potentially dire consequences for all aboard.  In order to get through it, a significant dose of temperance may be required.

The intergalactic setting was interesting, especially the contrast between the skeleton crew that manned the ship and aged while the bulk of the party was in cryogenic suspension.  Fans of the rigors and difficult practicalities of space travel in the not-too-distance future will finds some nice attention to the logistics of just how to make this happen.  As far as the theme of the story (temperance) goes, the characters find more questions than answers as the importance of that virtue is clearly central to their ongoing story, including just how much of it can be generated from society and how much personal will is involved. One aside is that some powerful interests believed that temperance was not a useful virtue for one specific type of occupation, posing (but not answering) questions about the role this even-keeled attitude should play in a person’s life and social relations. I enjoyed an ending which underscored the importance of such a virtue while leaving the broader questions wide open.

On a side note, the LGBT aspect of the story was present but very minor.  This is an interesting science fiction story with a character who was incidentally gay, so it’s an LGBT friendly piece with a focus on broader social, personal, political, and space travel issues.

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Blowback by Lyn Gala

Blowback  Book Cover

Title: Blowback
Author: Lyn Gala
Genre:  Science Fiction Romance (M/F)
Format:  Novel (392 pages)
Book sites:  Author | Publisher Goodreads
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publisher: Loose ID (June 2015)
ISBN: 9781623009373

4.5 stars (out of 5)

Tagline:  Tough alpha male soldier submits to the crazy, strong, and blue alien woman

An amazing tale from one of my favorite authors, some of the writing was more difficult and slow than typically found in light romances, but the payoff in the end was absolutely worth it for me.   Lyn Gala writes a wide range of stories, including one of my absolute favorite m/m romances, Claimings Tails and Other Alien Artifactsa gently firm and a bit erotic exploration of a strong but submissive human man submitting to powerful alien.  Blowback  is an earlier work  by this author (although recently revised) with similar themes, except in this case the outwardly buff  human man with a submissive side is submitting to a powerful female alien.

Reading this work reminded me of the writing progression of another of my favorite m/m romance authors, Amy Lane.  Her early Little Goddess series, a paranormal erotic series (with a female protagonist) had a rough-edged but wild prose style that was engaging but perhaps a bit undisciplined, as well as highlighting some of the strengths we see in Ms. Lane’s later works.  I find a similar progression in Ms. Gala’s writing – her early work Blowback is a bit rough to get through at times but it showcases the author’s love of linguistics and cross-cultural communication issues that are so brilliantly built into her later Claimings series.  In short, I find in both of these authors’ early works plenty of genius a somewhat “rough around the edges” but still extremely engaging writing styles that are clearly honed to great effect in very enticing later works.

I read this genre primarily for escapist reads, so the alien (and traumatic) confusion of the main character wasn’t as easy to navigate as I usually expect in romances, but in the end any struggle through the sieve of an injured alien mind was well worth the eventual payoff for me.  Of course, I greatly enjoy stories where strong men are able to find comfort and joy in submission to another, especially when the relationship focuses on the mental and emotional side of  Domination and submission.  For this reader, Blowback was an absolutely enchanting tale and the wonderful jumble of the blue woman’s crazily enticing vocabulary was an extremely enjoyable escape that paid off handsomely in the end.

Heat:   4.5 stars (just a few scenes, but I found them to be very smoking for my tastes)

Relationship Chemistry:  4.5 stars (slow boil of enemy to prisoner to lover)

Characters:   4.5 stars (tough, alpha male who secretly wants to submit and an uber-strong, apparently crazy, and wonderfully blue alien woman)

Setting:   4 stars   (military operatives undercover as smugglers caught on a slaving planet)

Plot:   4 stars  (caught in a web of deceit among slavers, aliens, the military, and the government)

Writing:    3.5 stars  (excellent hints of the author’s future xenolinguistic exploits, but sometimes dragged a bit much in the crazy alien woman’s mind)

 

Themes:  Aliens, Slavery, Enemies to Lovers, BDSM (submission, control, light bondage)