Reader beware, there is some NSFW language in the last so, if that offends your sensibilities, please skip that one.
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Editors Note: This article has been updated for a few editing errors.
I read 20 books in this Year of our Lloyd 2021*, more than a quarter of which were actually published in the year I read them, which doesn’t happen that often. 3 in particular though I’d like to focus on as they were 1) fiction, 2) not anthologies, and 3) not graphic novels. As one of these books is on the explicit side, to put it mildly, I’ll save it for last so you, dear reader, can just skip it.
1: Star Trek Picard: Rogue Elements by John Jackson MIller
Taking place between the events of the Short Trek “Children of Mars” and Season 1 of Picard, this book follows one of my personal favorite new character additions to the Star Trek canon in this era, Christobal Rios. Specifically, we are given the tail of how he came to possess his ship, La SIrena.
It’s an exciting read, and loads of fun for any Trekkie, especially as races and characters from TOS and TNG play roles in the story. Most notably, we get several characters from the planet Sigma Iotia, a.k.a. the gangster planet from the classic Trek episode A Piece of the Action.
I won’t say too much more than that. If you liked Rios, you’ll like this book. And according to the powers that be, it’s considered canon with the series. So who’s to say we won’t be getting Iotians in Season 2 of Picard? Barring that, if we can get a Tamarian secondary character on Lower Decks…
Full disclosure, there are other books in the Picard series that are considered to be canon, but to be honest I’ve not only not read those, I haven’t felt compelled to. I just really liked Rios. And his hologram duplicates. One of the highlights of the rather mixed bag that was Season 1 of Picard.
Just saying, the “Riker shows up to save the day” sequence from Lower Decks is better than the “RIker shows up to save the day” sequence from Picard by like a parsec.
2. Bump by Matt Wallace
A middle-grade book (meaning geared towards children 8 to 12 years old) about a teenage girl and her desire to become a Luchadora is certainly not something one would expect a single man pushing 40 would enjoy, but Bump was truly an enjoyable read. Relatable, exciting, funny, touching, and far more respectful of Mexican culture than one might expect from a book written by a white man from L.A. The positive reviews from Latinx writers show that Wallace pulled it off.
And even if you don’t find anything here for you, if you have a middle school age child, perhaps one dealing with a recent trauma, they stand to gain more from this book than even I did. And I really liked it so that’s saying something.
It’s also a quick read. Had I not had a day job I likely would’ve finished it in two or three days.
It is easily in the Top 3 of stories I’ve enjoyed that feature Luchadores. The other two being the movie Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter and the video game Saints Row 3. Much more kid friendly than the other two though. By a wide margin.
3: Trans Wizard Harriet Porber and the Theater of Love by Chuck Tingle
Honestly, if the name of the author didn’t tip you off that this one is a book with a fair amount of, how best to put this and keep it PG… adult fun time in it, you must be new to the Internet. If you need a primer on the works of Dr. Tingle, I recommend this video by YouTuber Dominic Noble. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU1PyYjl8rc It includes discussion of explicit material but doesn’t get too explicit itself. Best not to watch it at work regardless though.
As for the book itself, the sequel to 2020’s Trans Wizard Harriet Porber and the Bad Boy Parasaurolophus, is an erotic parody novel of a certain series of books that have aged as poorly as their author’s view on sex and gender.
Not much of an erotica reader myself in all honesty, it’s surprising how much I enjoyed these books, and even recommended them to people. The characters are likable (except when they aren’t supposed to be, such as Book 2’s main antagonists, the multi-national entertainment conglomerate called Just Kidding Recreations). The humor works, especially the meta humor (Harriet’s husband, the parasaurolophus from the subtitle of Book 1, derives his power from being aware that he is a character in a novel written by a guy named Chuck)., The sex scenes, while explicit are not graphic. And also consensual. With great care taken to avoid relying on stereotypes as both Harriet and her husband are transgender people who are implied to have chosen not to get what’s colloqiually known in the trans community as bottom surgery.
If you think you could handle reading a story that features at least one scene of an antrhpomorphic transmasc dinosaur receiveing oral sex, you may enjoy this. And also buying it (and the first book of course; I mean you can follow the story of Theater of Love on it’s own, but why not get both?) would be an admittedly entirely symbolic but still satisfying middle finger to That Lady In Scotland.
Both novels are self-published so some spelling and grammar errors are present, certainly more than you’d see in most books put out by any of the big publishing houses, but nothing that takes you completely out of the story. You notice, but you move on.
I’m unaware of any plans for a third book, but if one comes out, I will be right on top of it. Er, pun not originally intended.
Quick Shot: The other works published in 2021 I read in 2021 were actually all anthologies; Gender Euphoria (edited by Laura Kate Dale), DC Pride #1 (featuring a story with my girl Dreamer written by her actress, Nicole Maines), and the Green Arrow 80th Anniversary special.
- This was not a spelling error, it was a reference to the 1996 movie The Stupids.