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Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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Coming Home

Coming Home - Xanthe I should have written this right when I finished it, but I will say here: I am hooked on Xanthe's BDSM universe--it makes for a great alternative reality type story, is brilliant, insightful, sexy, hot, delicious, and many other good things. I read this after [b:Ricochet|16125683|Ricochet|Xanthe Walter|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1353378118s/16125683.jpg|21948888], and liked it hugely, despite knowing nothing about the original show, Stargate Atlantis. It's long, but nothing like the truly interminable 24/7.

Bottom line: the BDSM universe fictions are auto-reads for me, and I dearly hope Xanthe keeps going with them.

Added October 11:
Following up on my other recent Xanthe reviews, there was a passage in this book that really stood out in encapsulating some of the more thought-provoking (as opposed to just sexy) aspects of the alternative universe Xanthe has created. Just to reiterate, in the BDSM universe, "everyone" is bisexual and identifies as a top or a bottom. But of course, "everyone" manages to exclude some people, who find themselves subject to prejudice and misunderstanding.

The passage below is not from a key scene, and one of the characters is minor, but it illustrates assumptions we carry around in a particularly useful, memorable way.

Radek interupted him, looking kind of angry. "I do not top."

"Oh. Right." John leaned back again, feeling unaccountably relieved.

"I do not sub either," Radek said.

John frowned. "You switch?"

"No." Radek looked uncomfortable. "I do not do any of these things--they do not appeal to me. I identify as non-dynamic."

"Really?" John was a little shocked but he did his best to hide it.

"Also...I am not interested in Rodney that way because he is a man."

John gazed at him blankly and Radek flushed an even deeper shade of red. He leaned forwards and spoke in a whisper. "I am monosexual."

John did his best to keep his face non-judgmental because really it was no business of his if Radek only wanted to sleep with women, and he was cool with it in any case. He'd never actually met any monosexuals but there was quite a strong monosexual movement that had gained acceptance in the past few years.

It's a pretty simple reversal, and yet I found it a very effective reminder of the way I and most people normalize certain mainstream arrangements, and unconsciously relegate other arrangements, other desires, to the margins. I frankly feel a little indicted by John's insistence that "he's cool with" the fact that Radek is "monosexual." I value tolerance very highly, especially now when our gains in gay rights are under siege by reactionary forces in many different parts of the world, but I do tend to lose sight of the fact that the mere idea that something deserves tolerance is marginalizing. That doesn't make tolerance wrong--or diminish the hideousness or immorality of intolerance--but you just have to imagine someone glibly reassuring you that they're "totally cool with" the fact that you're a heterosexual married female to realize how annoying and condescending it would sound.

All of this is just to say that the BDSM Universe is more than just a sexed up fan version of a popular TV show. It's an alternative reality that in the best tradition of thoughtful Sci-Fi twists certain of our assumptions just enough so that we can no longer take them for granted. And that does seem to me the first step in moving beyond tolerance for those on the margin towards true inclusion where there is no margin.