The second book in the Passionate Pantheon series of far-future, post-scarcity erotic science fiction, Divine Burdens, I co-authored with Eunice Hung is out!
This is…unusual erotica.
When Eunice and I wrote the first book in the series, Divine Burdens,, we spent a lot of time shopping it around to publishers, who kept telling us there was no way to sell it. Erotica, we were told over and over (and over!), is niche. People like what the like. Someone who reads shapeshifter werewolf porn won’t read shapeshifter vampire porn. Unless the book fits a genre, there’s no way to reach its audience.
Well, these books don’t fit a genre.
They’re kinky AF, they are set in a far-future society ruled by AIs who are worshipped as gods through ritualized sex, and they have fetishes so exotic they don’t have names (we checked).
So not what most publishers wanted.
Well, we persevered, and now the second novel is available! And the third is in its fourth draft, and the fourth is in its second draft, and we’re planning the fifth…ahem. Anyway.
So, yeah, this book…isn’t like the first. The first book was Utopian post-scarcity erotica. With this one, we wanted to see what would happen if we took a post-scarcity society and flipped the Utopia on its head. Divine Burdens is erotic horror.
Top athletes competing for the honor of running through a forest for three days, pursued by Hunters trying to capture them and commune with the God of the Hunt through their bodies! An exile being taken to the temple of the God of the Deep and face violation by tentacle! A volunteer playing host to a sacred parasite that lives within her, flooding her body with powerful aphrodisiacs while she and her fellow volunteers undergo rituals that are half religious worship, half medical exam!
“Amakoli will preside over tomorrow’s Winnowing,” High Priest Henlith said. “Right now there are, correct me if I’m wrong, twelve contestants competing to be this year’s Sacrifice. After tomorrow, there will be four.” He raised a mug. “Tomorrow, we will measure the worth of the contenders. Tonight, let us feast!”
A ragged rowdy cheer filled the hall. Savine leaned over to Lija. “Do you think you’re going to make the cut?”
“I don’t think it,” Lija said. “I know it.”
“Arrogant,” Amakoli said from her chair. “I like it. That’s a winner’s attitude.”
“Care to make a wager?” Savine said.
“What did you have in mind?”
“Simple. If you make the cut, I’ll be your bondslave. If you don’t, you’ll be mine.” Savine bared her teeth. “I mean to make sure you don’t.”
“Shall we say five days?”
Lija snorted. “You don’t sound very confident.” She glanced at Amakoli, who watched their negotiation with interest. “I propose a counter-offer. If I make the cut and you don’t, it’s fifty days, beginning the day after the end of the Sacrifice.”
“And if I make the cut and you don’t?” Savine said.
“Same. Fifty days.”
A small drone of gold metal shaped like a wizened old man fluttered down from the ceiling on crystalline green wings. It whirred mechanically as it opened the book it carried. “Bet recorded,” it said in its musical voice. Savine smirked at Lija.
After dinner that night, the great hall erupted into a boisterous party, rowdy even by the standards of those who worshipped the Hunt. Music filled the space, dominated by deep thrumming percussion that set the floating globe-lights to vibrating. Mood-altering substances flowed freely from the Providers, from large tankards brimming with intoxicants to small crystal vials filled with hallucinogens and libido-enhancing liquids. Contract drones darted about recording bets. Lija heard her name mentioned several times.
Brin approached Lija with a teardrop-shaped vial filled with faintly glowing liquid that danced with tiny blue specks. “Drink this,” she said.
“Okay.” Lija swallowed the contents and chased the sweetness down with a shot of brandy. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “What was it?”
“Dunno,” Brin said. “I asked the Provider to give me something interesting.”
The fires in the huge fireplaces roared high. People danced in the space around the long table. Occasional small groups of two or three or four went off to the little screened-in alcoves, to come out some time later happy and, frequently, with less clothing.
Kerrim and a bare-chested Jassin whirled by, dancing with each other. Kerrim held a large mug and, against all odds, spun about without spilling whatever was in it. “Lija!” Kerrim called. He waved the mug in her direction. “I just made a bet with Liat about whether or not you’ll be the next Sacrifice.”
“Oh? Did you bet for or against?”
He grinned. “For. Let’s toast!”
Lija looked around. “I don’t have a drink.”
“Here, take mine.” He handed her the mug and summoned another from the Provider at the end of the table. “To you and a successful Hunt!”
They smacked their mugs together. Lija drank the clear liquid. It burned her throat and stung her eyes. “By the Hunt, what is this?”
“Potent!” Kerrim said.
Jassin grabbed her hand. The three of them whirled together. The world softened around the edges. Lija’s body flushed. Her face grew warm.
Jassin and Kerrim linked arms and danced in a small circle around Lija. She giggled. Across the room, she saw Tatian and Amakoli talking in a corner near one of the fireplaces. Then Jassin scooped Lija off her feet. She squealed as he twirled her through the air.
“Hey, I was thinking—” Kerrim started. Lija grabbed him and kissed him. He melted into her arms. “Mmm, you read my mind!” he said when she broke the kiss.
“Don’t be greedy!” Jassin said. He put his arms around Kerrim and kissed him deeply.
Lija’s vision went fuzzy. A face swam into view. “Would you like to kiss me?” Lija asked the blurred shape.
“Yes please,” Savine said. She draped her arms around Lija and kissed her gently, with great attention, tongue flicking lightly across Lija’s lips.
“That’s nice,” Lija giggled.
“If I win our bet,” Savine said, “I am going to enjoy hurting you so very much. I will hurt you every single day for fifty days.”
“If,” Lija said.
We’ve put a tremendous amount of love and work into every aspect of these books. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe. There are places where a six-hour conversation becomes two lines in a book.
We’ve even started a Passionate Pantheon blog to offer a behind-the-scenes peek at the worldbuilding you won’t get to see in the novels, like, for example, the citizens of the City as modern-day reinterpretations of the Fey.
If that sounds like your jam, check it out!