In 1994, Circlet published Wired Hard: Stories for a Gay Universe, a ground-breaking anthology of M/M SF erotica. Over the decades that followed, we published four more hot and innovative collections in the series. And now, for the very first time, all five volumes are available in one massive omnibus ebook! Forty-three short stories by writers such as David Laurents, M. Christian, Shanna Germain, Zachary Jernigan, Gary Bowen, and Eric Del Carlo, as well as a preface and bonus story by editor Cecilia Tan.
Rather than the usual excerpt, we thought we’d share with you Cecilia’s preface about the role of queer erotica then and now. (and you can still find a fiction excerpt here)
I took my first queer political action in the 1980s, marching in a parade/protest march on the Brown University campus in 1986. At the time the country was gripped by AIDS panic, if your commanding officer searched your duffel and found a copy of Drummer you were kicked out of the military, and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe was receiving funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.Rest in peace, Robert. Rest in peace, NEA.
Mapplethorpe died in 1989 of AIDS at the height of his popularity, fueled by his embroilment with criminal obscenity charges levied against a Cincinnati museum for displaying seven homoerotic, sadomasochistic photographs of his. A year later, an Ohio jury acquitted the museum and its director, who could have served a year in jail and paid thousands in fines if found guilty. The New York Times hailed it as a “Victory in the a War on Art.” One of the defense lawyers said after the acquittal, ”This is a signal to everybody that before they start shutting down museums and telling people what they can say and what they can see, they better realize there is a protection out there, and it is the greatest document ever written.”He’s talking about the Constitution of the United States of America, of course. But I’m writing this in 2017 shortly after hearing that the U.S. government is taking a new tactic in fighting art, whether homoerotic or not. They’re shutting down the NEA completely. And many of us question whether the Constitution is being respected at all by the executive or congressional branches of our government right now. (To judge by the reaction of the judiciary branch, no, it is not.) I can’t sugarcoat it. This is a pretty dire time.But if anyone has tried to tell you that erotica or porno is irrelevant now and that we ought to put our attention on “more important” things in times of political strife, all I can do is point to the above thread of history I’m tugging on. Jesse Helms wanted to get rid of the NEA and he tried to use gay porn to do it. He failed, but only because people were willing to stand up and fight for the right to have it and view it even if it wasn’t their cup of tea, and because a jury of working-class Ohioans decided that it was justice to declare that freedom of expression should be protected even if it was pornographic gay sadomasochistic imagery.(By the way, Mapplethorpe’s SM-themed photographs were in fact featured in the gay porn magazine I mentioned above, Drummer, as well as in the tony art museums of the world.)I’d say after that protest march in 1986, the next biggest political act I undertook was the founding of Circlet Press and the publication of queer erotica. Wired Hard was one of our earliest books, the first one that was specifically focused on gay male desire. It has been our most long-running series–five volumes–rivaled only by vampires in popularity of erotic topic.So here are all five volumes, plus one new short story by me that has never appeared anywhere else as a bonus, collected together in one bundle. Remember that reading it can be a pleasure and an act of subversion at the same time. In these times, maybe pleasure itself is subversive. Enjoy it.Cecilia TanEditor, Publisher, Activist