BLACK FEATHERS: Erotic Dreams was originally published back in the 1990s by HarperCollins, showcasing 23 erotic stories by Cecilia Tan, founder of Circlet Press. The taboos broken by the book are not those of sexuality per se, though the book contains healthy doses of BDSM and alien-human relations. The boundaries most challenged by the book are those of categories themselves. The book mixes real world contemporary fiction stories with fantasy and science fiction, and includes gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, and heterosexual erotica all in one collection. While that made it a challenge for bookstores to figure out what shelf to put it on (erotica? lesbian? gay? science fiction? literary fiction?), it prompted Paramour Magazine to issue the praise: “There’s something for everyone here.”
This new ebook edition includes a new forward by the author, in which she says of the book’s “sex-positive” label, “In these stories there is conflict, pain, friction and trouble. But the sex is consensual, and the stories are intended to arouse. They arouse through pleasure and desire and exploration, and not through guilt.” Unless you’re reading them at work, perhaps.
“Black Feathers is not for the faint of heart or the politically correct. Cecilia Tan’s collection of erotic fantasy explores the twists and turns of pain and pleasure, dominance and submission. But perhaps most fun for grown-up science fiction fans are Tan’s forays into the sex of the future.”
–The New York Blade
“Cecilia Tan transcends time, space, gravity, and cultural norms in her line of work: erotic science fiction.” –San Francisco Weekly
“Fur, sandpaper, a hairbrush, a braided thong-—these are a few of Tan’s favorite things. BLACK FEATHERS is… steamy, lubricious, power-laden, and hypnotic for a stroke or trance when the itch calls.” –The Village Voice
“When the erotic imagination is jump-started and tears through your subconscious like a funny car on acid, there’s no telling where a fantasy can lead. In the case of Cecilia Tan… your fantasies may take you way out.” –Girlfriends Magazine
“Inventive and playful, Tan exhibits great imagination.”–Penthouse.com
“[Her] best work fuses [fiction] with sexual practices beyond the norm. Amy Tan it ain’t.”
–Harper’s Bazaar Singapore
“Tan’s marvelous descriptive abilities … reach out of the page to the reader with a tremendous urgency. There’s something for everyone here.” — Paramour Magazine
“Tan herself is writing about many other things when she writes explicitly about sex: the influence or people’s placement in social class and gender, race, and power groups in influencing sexual attraction, sexual practice, and sexuality.”
–New York Review of Science Fiction
About the Author:
Cecilia Tan is the author of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, White Flames, The Prince’s Boy, Mind Games, Edge Plays, Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords, the Magic University series, and many other books. Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Nerve, Best American Erotica, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and tons of other places. She was inducted into the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame for GLBT writers in 2010. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.
Look under the cut for a hot excerpt!
from Rough, Trade:
Call it the weather (which was a steady millennial rain), call it the post-project blues (or burnout, more like), call it whatever, but for weeks I’d been home, restless but without the energy to do much, no interest in dinner with friends or concerts or much of anything. This is the life of a technolinguist, I told myself. A few months of neuron-burning, sleepless intensity, interfacing and trying to keep up with a project, and then a few months of dullness and checking my bank balance. Cleaning my office. Playing video games. Every night I sank into bed with the vibrator and thought nothing more of it.
At least, that was the way it was for the first week or so. And then it began to sink in that maybe I really ought to go out and get laid. Such an expression, “get laid,” but apropos–I wanted to be laid down, pressed flat under another human being’s body, cruelly literal but true. It had been a couple of years since I’d had time to maintain or look for a regular relationship. I mean, even I can admit that I’m not the most fun to be around when I’m talking like a machine and I can’t tell anymore whether the blue in the sky is real or optic nerve burnout. I didn’t think of what other complications might have kept me unattached, of course not–I’m into cognitive intelligence, not psychology.
It sank in one night when I was, literally, twiddling my thumbs and thinking about the motor mechanism of habitual motion. I looked at the liquid silver display morphing the seconds on my wall. Only nine pm. I could suit up, head down to the Market and try my luck. As soon as I thought of it, energy came to me and I ran to the bedroom to brush my hair and make myself presentable.
* * * *
Communications is my business, it’s true. The communion between human and machine becomes more intertwined every day. We need it now, our economies and political outcomes and resource allocation and transportation–computers handle it all, and humans need to work harder and harder to keep up. Yeah so anyway, I was muttering to myself all the way there to make sure I remembered how to actually talk to people. Please, thanks, how you doing? The rush of air around my helmet meant I could only hear myself subvocally.
At the Market, the music never stops, but in some parts of the club it’s louder than others. I like the loud part, which is also the darkest part, usually. But if I was going to meet anyone, that was a sucky place to wait. Just in case, I made myself an Illumiprint card that read “I just want somebody to treat me rough, fuck me silly, and keep my safety the top priority” in glowing green letters when stroked. The card was in the back pocket of my jeans. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirrored side of the bar’s cash register. Disaster, probably, I told myself. I hadn’t been able to decide butch or femme, and ended up in just a t-shirt and jeans, my riding boots unglamorously scuffed. But well, I actually rode a two-wheeler, unlike most of the posers in here. Well, whatever. I checked my signals to make sure they were in place: the black ribbon around my throat officially pegged me a bottom, the red one looking for sex. To me the red one was redundant–what was the point if they didn’t fuck you? But some people swore No Sex, so you had to know somehow. I always said those people should have worn a Band-Aid or surgical mask or something, but the system wasn’t exactly designed by semantic experts. Before my time, you know.
Bill, the one bartender I knew, was too busy to talk. There wasn’t anyone else there I recognized. No matter how little time has gone by between when you last visited a place and the current time, if it feels like a long time has gone by you can be sure there has been some disconcerting piece of renovation done since the last time. The reverse is also true, that the renovation itself can make you feel like you haven’t been there in forever. I struck a pose near a new-looking holographic fountain and waited.
The waiting’s the boring part so I won’t tell you much about it other than that my thoughts were high on the statistical list of what 90% of the other people in that place were thinking: what if I don’t meet anyone? what if I meet some psycho? what if I embarrass myself? what if s/he wants to get serious? Just because I know the stats doesn’t make me any less common in that respect. Anyway, to cut to the chase….
When “he” came along, I was almost convinced that I should give up and leave. He had his hair cut short, peach-fuzz short, and somehow the way that it revealed the hardness of his head was sexy, like he was one giant erection. He walked up to me, flicked his eyes toward my ribbons and said, “Does that say it all?”
I palmed the card to him and he looked at it, chuckled to himself. “I don’t know….”
“Don’t know what?” I burst out. “What do you want me to do?” He had dark eyes, dark skin, but I couldn’t guess where he was from. He couldn’t have been any older than me.
He rummaged in his leather jacket for a second and jutted his chin toward the back of the bar. I turned to take a step in that direction but didn’t want to take my eyes off him.
His hand on my shoulder propelled me into the men’s room. (It was somehow less objectionable, even in this day and age, for a woman to be caught in the men’s room than the other way around.) He pushed me into a stall, sat me down on the lid of the toilet and told me to push my jeans down.
I did. Underneath I was wearing a g-string because I liked how it sawed at my clit. He propped my heels against his hips and spread my knees. From his inner pocket he took something small and plastic with wires that ended in small pads–my mind was already giving me two descriptions for it: the common me would have seen it as an old-time transistor radio with headphones, the technolinguist me wondered what the electrodes were for and whether he was going to read my brainwaves here in this muffled-dance-floor-scuffed-paint-sex-club bathroom stall. He squirted a small bit of jelly onto my clit from a tube and stuck the pads on either side of it. Then he pressed one small plastic piece against my clit while he held the other in his hand.
The plastic piece began to vibrate and my hips jumped. A weak vibration compared to what I had at home, but enough to make my breath quicken at first.
He stared down at me with his dark eyes, patiently it seemed, yet I wondered if I saw a hint of anger there. He moved the vibrator in a circle and I moaned and thrust myself against it harder.
“Does it always take you this long?” he said after a while, and I wondered how much battery power he had.
“No, not always,” I said, my teeth a little gritted. “It’s just….”
His eyes went back to the little box in his hand. “If you don’t peg these meters, I’m not taking you home, understand?”
I nodded. I was aroused, of that there was no doubt, and I felt wetness drip down my open cunt to my ass. I looked back up at that hard cock of a head and wished he were doing it already.
“Are you holding back?” he asked, then.
“No! No, I swear. It’s just… I’ve been using a vibrator every night this week and it’s got me a little desensitized….”
He snorted and went back to watching the meters. I was dying to have a look at the readings. My hips shook and my teeth ground but I was no closer to coming. Damn it! Why would I have to get one of these types? Why’d he have to pick the one test I might not pass today? I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to will myself to come. I imagined him inside me, thrusting in, no mercy, no stopping, and yet in complete control….
I whimpered out loud and broke my own reverie. He was looking down at my face now, a little bit of pity and a little bit of anger on his. “I don’t…” he began.
You know I’m desperate when I interrupt, one method of verbal interface that always annoys me when other people do it to me. “Please, sir, just a little longer. I… I want you so much. I wish you could just fuck me, stick your hard cock in me, sir, please, anything, sir, please…” I stopped myself before I said anything else stupid. I’d called him sir, hadn’t I. Inside I cursed myself for manifesting old, stupid habits, things I thought I was done with.
But if I was really done with them, I wouldn’t be cruising a place like this for rough sex, for sex without mercy, would I.
To read the rest, buy the ebook today!
This new ebook edition of BLACK FEATHERS: EROTIC DREAMS contains the original 23 erotic short stories plus a new foreword by author Cecilia Tan. A ground-breaking book of "sex-positive" erotica in the 1990s, BLACK FEATHERS combines BDSM, pansexuality, fantasy, science fiction, and dream-like realism in a panoply of stories by the founder of Circlet Press.