I don’t usually deal with modern fiction on this blog, but the very nice Kenneth “Craigside” offered to send me his book to review (free book! For free!). How can I resist? Here and Always Have Been is a collection of erotic and semi-erotic short stories ranging in time from prehistoric cavemen to the 1950’s.
I have to say first that I liked a lot of the little things and the plots. He displays a lot of original thought. There are a lot of funny bits that made me smile or laugh out loud. Clearly he did some research and at least knows his way around a list of dead white queers. I was disappointed that there was not really a lot of historical detail for him to have gotten wrong, though- it wasn’t the emphasis, merely the setting.
The porny bits are not really to my taste, which is partly biological on my part and partly the style and tone, which somehow manages to be coy and clinical simultaneously. The settings, actions, and characters are not very realistic, not because he didn’t do his research but because they’re driven by sexual fantasy rather than true character development. I like emotion powering my sex rather than kink, which takes a pride of place in many stories. I think my favorite story was “The Ballad of Sadie”, which has no sex but only innuendo, and in the others I liked such as “The Last Roman God”, “Saladin’s Loom”, and “Will’s Best Bed” it was the ideas I enjoyed more than the execution. (Saladin's men kidnap Richard Lionheart with a sexy plan to get him out of the Holy Land? Tell me more!) A lot of these stories were disappointing because they have such potential and I didn’t see it filled the way I’d like.
Overall impression: it’s clear to me he’s new to the genre. He sent me the book for my history perspective, and I had no problems there, but the writing is unpracticed. I enjoyed it at first, but it wore thin after reiterations of the same thing over and over with different names and kinks. Very possibly a lot of my critique comes of my not being the target market- I don’t generally enjoy the style of mainstream erotica.
All that said, I’d like to read his next work, if he chooses to continue on this path. I love witnessing people improve, and Kenneth Craigside shows some promise.
Go buy it. Maybe you'll like it.