Every once in a while (if you’re lucky), you come across that one book that so absolutely amazes and delights you that it makes you want to run through the streets, singing its praises to the world. The kind of book that’s constantly on your mind, playing with your emotions, and demanding that you find a few more minutes to savour it – because just ‘reading’ it is never enough.
For me, Darcy Abriel’s Silver (Book 1 of the Humanotica series) is that book.
Although this is an intensely sexual read, there is a strong dystopian plot driving the action that would not be out of place in a mass market science fiction novel. The city of Quentopolis is a futuristic empire, controlled by the humans of the Politico, and serviced by the computers of the Elite Logical Life Core. This is a society where mechanical modifications are standard practice, but any citizen who surpasses the 50/50 balance between human and humanotic becomes a slave, chattel for whoever owns them.
Enter the Metallitionist Resistance. Their members violently oppose this notion of slavery, and are actively plotting to disrupt the Politico. For some Resistance members the struggle is about justice and change, but for others it’s simply about revenge.
That contradiction is just one of many that are woven through the story of Silver. This is a story comprised of contradictions – justice/revenge, male/female, slave/master, human/machine, dominant/submissive, science/supernatural – but it’s the unique compromises that Darcy introduces to those contradictions which are so pleasantly surprising.
As I said, this is also an intensely sexual read, with innovative obscenities and novel delights that never cease to amaze, even as they furiously arouse. Silver herself is the centrepiece of all this sexual activity. Once a human female, she has been progressively modified into a thing a beauty, a voluptuous humanotic sex goddess, with a silver-tipped phallus that would put most men to shame. Her body has been designed to both give and receive pleasure, and she has been conditioned by her owner, Lel Kesselbaum, to maximize the intensity and duration of those pleasures.
As for Kesselbaum, he is a member of the Politico and a member of the Dominatae – sexualized nobility who are specifically trained in the erotic art of dominance. Although he seems cold and distant a first, a villainous abuser of the beautiful Silver, brilliant complexities are slowly revealed in both himself and his relationship with her. The ways in which he prepares and displays his Trinex, particularly how he dresses her and sculpts her public appearance, are absolutely glorious to behold.
Further complicating matters is Entreus, once a mechanized Orictian warrior, and now leader of the Metallitionist Resistance. He sees Silver as his access point to Kesselbaum and the Politico, a means of peacefully driving change from within the system itself. At the same time, he is intensely aroused by the very notion of who and what she is, so much so that he’s willing to betray his own nature and allow her to take the upper hand.
It is with Entreus that Silver first explorers her dominant side, brutally penetrating him with her silver-tipped phallus. Directed, enabled, and assisted by the beautiful Violette (Kesselbaum’s female counterpart amongst the Dominatae), their coming together is a scene of such wonder and eroticism that I challenge any reader to finish it with both hands still on the book.
To say much more would be to spoil the surprises that drive the latter half of the book. Suffice to say, every time you think the story has reached its height, every time you figure the sexual innovations have reached their peak, Darcy insists on taking you a bit father. And, just when you think you’ve figured out where the story is going, she exposes a few satisfying twists that force yet another compromise – this time, with the your expectations.
Available from Samhain Publishing on December 14th (just in time for the holidays), Silver is a book that I cannot recommend highly enough.