Dollie looking up at me out of empty, featureless eyes, as though waiting. I put my hand on its belly, petting soft fur, felt it squirm with what seemed like pleasure, listened to its resumed purr. A cat, they say, does not purr out of pleasure. Humans don't care why it purrs, merely make the assumptions that please them most. No reason to do this. You're just full of alien pheromones, pheromones tricking your reproductive physiology into thinking... hell. Think of it like a nice drug. Like a masturbation aid. Like the vidnet girls. Just get your dick out and take care of yourself, that's all. No one will know but you and the dollies. Who would they tell? Who would care? ... The spacesuit whispered, Gaetan. Shut the fuck up. Go away. I crawled on top of the dollie and just like that, I was in. Wet. Warm. Sticky like raw egg white. Just like a woman. That's it. In. Out. In. Out. The dollie looked up at my face as I fucked it, eyes like bits of glass, purring steadily away, as if I were still only . . .And after he's done basically raping an alien life form, he starts to cry. (Although I get the impression the dollie doesn't think of what just happened as sex.) And later he finally decides to save the dollies, and the other intelligent life forms on the planet whom the humans have exploited and killed for entertainment. Even if it dooms the human race (at the hands of a vastly more advanced life form) in the process. The scene where the aliens beg for his help is typically cynical. Writes Barton: "How does it feel to be bargaining with the devil? For that matter, how does it feel to be the devil with whom the downtrodden must bargain?" Since the 1990s, Barton hasn't published any more novels, but his stories still appear in Asimov's Science Fiction and other magazines. With the explosion of new publishers like Nightshade and Pyr, putting out new books by other neglected greats like Richard Kadrey, I can't help but hope we'll see another searingly bitter Barton epic again soon.