A new issue of Rudy Rucker's scifi magazine FLURB went live yesterday, and it's full of great free stories from Bruce Sterling, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Carter Scholz, Madeline Ashby, and more. Plus, my story "The Gravity Fetishist" is there too!
In "The Gravity Fetishist," we catch a glimpse of the future sexual underground in a world of artificial gravity and interplanetary politics - all seen through the eyes of an emotionally-conflicted protein engineer. You can expect Golden Age scifi asteroid-hopping, combined with sexy scenes that might be a bit NSFW. (For those of you who read my story "The Great Oxygen Race," this story takes place in the same city on Ceres, about 100 Earth years later.)
Here's how the story begins:
No amount of atmosphere purification could erase the smell of partially-metabolized alcohol. The stench, wafting from doors frenetic with disco light, turned the entire street into a chemistry experiment its inhabitants were doomed to repeat, despite knowing the results.
Chris checked out the bars while maintaining a brisk walking pace at the same time. This counter-intuitive cruising strategy might have caused him to trip and fall in another part of town. But this area, in a tented bubble of atmosphere south of the downtown dome, was emitting Martian gravity. It felt like home. Everybody in Bachelor City called the neighborhood SoDo. But his family and colleagues would probably call the place by another name, if they bothered to acknowledge it at all. This neighborhood was the dark sore on the crotch of decadent planetoid Ceres.
He wondered what Shel and Mikel were doing right now, back in New Maghreb. They were probably in the lab, slightly pissed that he'd gotten a free trip to the Belt just because he was first author on their paper, "A New Algorithmic Approach to Reverse-Engineering Protein Folds." And here he was ditching the prestigious ProTech conference during a meal break.
A chill worked its way up his spine as he contemplated how easy it had been to leave the convention center and follow a path that could mean the end of his career.
Whether by local tradition or deference to some idea of duplicating the Earth day, SoDo's bars and clubs tended to light up with activity at roughly 24 hour intervals, after people got off second shift. Chris had timed his visit to fall exactly 12 hours after peak time, when he reasoned that the place would be as vacant as it would ever get.
But SoDo wasn't exactly dead. Men in armor and fur groped each other in the doorway to a bar called Bear Hug. Dance music blared from a warehouse across the street; painted on its door was a glowing heart hung with chains. Chris slowed and allowed himself to stare in the window of a fetish shop at the costumes, uniforms, and fanciful instruments of torture and restraint. Two women walked out of the shop, their medieval princess dresses elaborately tattered. Thorny roses erupted from their heads instead of hair. One remarked to the other, "It's so annoying trying to find cisgender men who want to have sex with my new cock."
The pubnet hadn't lied about this neighborhood. The creased map Chris pulled from his pocket lit up with party notices people had posted here. His ears rang with blood as he gestured through search results, but he'd been planning this for so long that he felt no hesitation. If he could find what he wanted anywhere, it was going to be here, among the bear men and women with thorns.