Underlying Themes of "Thicker Than Blood"
by Avery Vanderlyle
Thicker than Blood, my new story from Storm Moon Press, is a bisexual post-apocalyptic erotic romance about finding love and family, but also about prejudice, identity, and the relationship between society and technology. I’d like to highlight some of these aspects of the story.
Sex and romance in a broken world
David, the protagonist, was born with nanobots inherited from his mother, which should not have happened. When he was five, most of the ‘bot carriers, including both his parents, die in what becomes known as the Crash. In the chaos that follows, anyone with the ‘bots who had survived becomes a target. David has had to hide the bots he was born with his entire life, severely limiting his chance for romance. He also doesn’t know if the bots might be sexually transmissible, so safe sex is a must.
David meets Ayana, a dancer with ‘bots tattooed onto her skin. She is not only gorgeous, but brave. She’s a symbol of everything he’s been repressing by living in fear. When she makes a pass at him, he leaps at the opportunity.
Ayana has a female partner, Yan, who is obviously fine with this liaison even though she leaves it ambiguous how much she will participate. It’s clear that Ayana and Yan have a strong relationship built on absolute trust.
David also meets Ayana’s brother James, and there is an immediate chemistry between the two men. It’s James who reaches out to David and makes it clear that there is a place for him with James and his family.
Thicker than Blood is a twist on the old saying “Blood is Thicker than Water.” In this world, those who have the 'bots are connected with a bond that goes beyond blood, much as GLBT folks have built families of choice out of necessity when biological families didn’t support them. But there are also two sets of siblings in the story who do support each other.
David’s brother Rich has a supporting role in the story, but it’s clear he was always there for David. Most notably, he protected David during the Crash, and he has never treated David as inhuman or abnormal for having the bots.
James and Ayana are the other pair of siblings, and they are also very loyal and supportive of each other. Ayana would do almost anything to help her brother when the need arises. James obviously loves and supports his sister as well, and his affection for Ayana’s partner has grown over the time the three of them have been traveling together.
When are we no longer human?
In Thicker than Blood, a massive flaw with the nanobots has killed hundreds of thousands and caused a panic that sets society back decades. But the nanbots have also mutated and evolved on their own, giving rise to a new generation born with these technologies in every cell, who can analyze and create more effectively than those without the 'bots.
Much of society has declared those with the 'bots inhuman. But Yan believes the advances the 'bots give people are exactly what is needed to rebuild society. Is the majority marginalizing their best hope for survival? Or does the possibility of another Crash make it not worth the risk?
We’re on the cusp of many advances in nanotechnology and other advances that raise important questions about the nature of humanity. As a science fiction geek, I wanted to explore some of these questions in a setting which presented neither a rosy view of the future nor a bleak sense that hope is lost.
There is love to be found in the world of Thicker than Blood. Families still support each other. Technology has proven to have a dark side, but renewal is possible. David, Ayana, Yan, and James will all play a part in the rebuilding.
Here's an excerpt:
David watched Ayana dance. Her breasts bounced as she conjured up yet
another tale. Abstract designs. Dawn. Hope. Rebuilding. Her short braids swayed as
she dove to the floor, sending a wave of doves fluttering out from the bird-like marks
across her shoulder blades. They swooped out into the room, cooing, and then began
fading away. The music rose again in a crash of distant gongs, and then hushed into
the stirring of wings. Then gone.
The silence held for a final moment as the dancer panted face down on the
floor, hands out in supplication. Then, the thirty people in the crowd exploded into
applause, whooping and stomping their feet.
As Ayana rose and bowed, sweat gleaming on her skin, David poured two
more cups of ale. They were almost out, and the performers deserved a drink. Yan
joined her for a bow. The DJ cut an androgynous figure in dark glasses, jeans and an
ancient leather jacket two sizes too big.
Some nights the crowd lingered, but tonight most people slipped away to
continue their conversations in the warm night before it got too late to be safe. David
sold some take-away bottles, trading them for cigarettes and jerky. He stayed behind
the makeshift bar, cleaning up. Rich would fill him in on any important news.
Yan approached, fiddling with the glasses. They had a string of blue lights
along the top—some new European fashion? As David watched, the lights all blinked
green for several seconds before flipping back to the first color. Ayana came up to Yan,
swinging an arm around the DJ's shoulders. The dancer smiled at David as he pushed
the drinks toward them.
"Thank you." She took an appreciative sip, eyes closing. "Very nice. You make
"Yeah." He blushed. He was always careful—it was just easier not to say too
much. But she'd be safe. "Rich helps. But he says I'm better at it than he is."
"I bet you are." Ayana smiled at him. "Rich is your brother?"
"Yes. I'm David."
"Pleased to meet you officially, David." She offered her hand. He took it,
returned her grip, but wasn't sure when to let go. She gave his hand another squeeze
and slipped her fingers from his slowly.
Yan nodded to him, but didn't offer to shake hands. David wasn't sure of the
DJ's gender, but now that they were close, he guessed female. Not that it mattered.
"We appreciate the chance you all took on us. It was a good crowd."
"They were comfortable enough to let their guard down," Yan added. "That's
"We escaped the worst of the Crash. It was the breakdown in trade and
supplies that really disrupted things."
"You're lucky," Ayana drawled the word out, eyes on David's. Then she
glanced at Yan, who gave a quick nod.
"David, honey, after a show, I always have a hard time coming down from the
high by myself." She grinned. "Any chance you're free?"
Pick up Thicker than Blood from Storm Moon Press, Amazon, or at your favorite e-book romance site. Thanks for reading!