Monsters Anonymous by Steve Berman


When I asked Steve Berman to write a  fun post I had no idea what he was going to talk about because he wouldn’t tell me. It was a sekkrit. 🙂 Now the sekkrit is out. He’s talking about why he hates some aspects of spec fiction. Here’s what he has to say –


So, I happen to write spec fic. That’s the massive category that covers everything from high fantasy (handsome knights squaring off against dragons) to horror (chainsaw-wielding maniacs threatening high school jocks) to steampunk (daring zeppelin aces). I also adore spec fic a great deal, which is why I edit the Wilde Stories series, which reprints under one cover the best gay male spec fic published the prior year.
And I’m here to talk about monsters. Specifically, the ones I’m sick to death of and the ones I’m aching to see.
1) Vamps:  Okay, am I the only one on the planet that is tired of vampires? Really, as a kid I wanted to be a vampire but only because the idea I could mesmerize the boys I went to school with made me quiver, made me hard. The rest? Ugh, I faint at the sight of blood. Who would want to kiss a guy with teeth that sharp? And I don’t care if you glitter in the sun or stay pale in the moonlight, I don’t want to date a guy who reminds me I’m getting older by the minutes.
No, vampires are boooooooooooooring. Even with all the changes to the mythology, I just can’t get interested in their angst (“Oh, woe is me. I yearn for that lover to stay with me through eternity!” – Duh! What man doesn’t?!). And the more popular vamps in pop culture were because of the character not the condition. Spike from Buffy? Okay, he made me laugh, but he’s not sexy because he has an overbite.
Vamps. Stake ’em. I’ve seen and read enough.  (this werewolf picture is too large for the post but you can take a peek at it in the link provided) 😀

2) Werewolves: Move along little doggies. Another bore. Okay, Taylor Lautner’s hot but that’s only because he has the body of a gym-obsessed 18 year old and a wicked grin. But shape-shifting? I don’t know if a wolf’s penis operates much like a dog’s but I remember calling the vet in a panic after seeing the family German Shepherd post-humping the neighbor’s poodle and there was blood on his Pimmel. Do I want the guy screwing me to suddenly swell up inside my ass so he can’t get out? No.
Plus, no one likes getting pubic hair in their mouth when they go down on someone. Imagine if the guy’s 1000x more hirsute? Yuck. The only thing I’d be spitting out of my mouth was tufts of fur and not semen (well, actually I’m a swallower-by-trade).
Werewolves and any other shifter. Put ’em in the kennel. I’ve seen and read enough.
3) Demons. Yawn. Yeah, yeah, cue the horny jokes. But really, the whole notion of demons brings up the question of religion and, frankly, I’m tired of there being a hell (one of the benefits of being Jewish, we don’t really have one in mind). See, demons = afterlife punishment = homosexuality is bad. It’s almost a subconscious bit of homophobia. Plus, does anyone like the smell of sulfur? Think rotten eggs…. do you want to be cozying up to that?
Even if you avoid the religious issues, demons are by nature so damn (ha ha!) selfish. Think the demon is going to be the eager bottom? Or will just offer to go down on you to make you smile? Maybe only when you’re driving so you crash. Plus, depending where those horns are placed… I might end up with a punctured spleen before I ever orgasm!
Demons. To hell with ’em. I’ve seen and read enough.
4) Ghosts:  Okay, I do love ghosts. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done Vintage. But do know how many times I’ve read stories where a guy is about to go to bed in a strange house/hotel/cabin/inn/igloo and the ghost of a former occupant/guest/prodigal son/traveling salesman comes along and seduces him? Ugh. And whether the seducee knows the guy in bed is immaterial is… well, immaterial. I’m tired of this cliche. Aren’t you?
Besides, on Valentine’s Day, what good is a ghost? Do the florists even stock lilies then? And it’s not like you’re doubling your wardrobe by dating a ghost. At best, you might get an extra pair of sheets for the bed.
Ghosts. Tell them to go into the light. I’ve seen and read enough.
So, what’s left?  I want new gay monsters that will thrill me… here are some suggestions of my own… and I want to hear yours!
a) Mummies! My mother always wants me to date someone rich… who better than a former Pharaoh. Okay, maybe he’d be awkward to have around the Passover table, but still, it’s better than dating a podiatrist. And when you’re sick of hearing him talk of his former glory days you can adjust the bandages around his face to muffle his mouth! Plus, I’ll never feel that old compared him…
Tell me stories about explorers breaking into tombs and being cursed with regal stalkers who have really big scepters. Victorian professors who look at a hunky mummy and think to themselves, ‘I really have been a good boy and want to unwrap my present now.’ A monster who appreciates cats and days at the sandy beach.
Mummies. Brew up a nice cup of tana leaves. I’ve not seen or read enough.
b) Mermen!  Everyone knows that the semen of mermen is full of omega-3s! Fish is good for you. A hot man-fish is doubly good for you. He’s dying to get into the tub, though he may be confused about what most gays consider water sports…. Seriously, Lethe Press is doing a spec fic anthology that involves sex and the sea, and I want to read some great merman paranormal romantic stories. Or, better yet, write me a novel about a pirate and a triton and I’ll hand you an advance check!
Hey, if they can grasp that trident and blow that conch shell, you know they’re going to be good in (the kelp) bed.
Merman. So trawl me up something fresh (of course, these relationships might not last more than 3 days before they start to stink). I’ve not seen or read enough.
c) Leprechauns and Cluricauns!  You can kiss them all you want because they’re Irish. The’re usually pretty wealthy and always make you breakfast in the morning. Sure, you might get sick of their wardrobe (Green again?!) but when your fag hag breaks her heel, who’s going to cobble it better on the spot?
Actually, my favorite strip joint in Atlanta, Swinging Richards, has a dwarf stripper who they dress up for St. Patrick’s Day in a green bow-tie and bear around in a pot of chocolate gold coins. From what I saw, not everything was so little…
Leprechauns. Get your lucky charm on. I’ve not seen or read enough.
And lastly…
d) The Mokumokuren!  Talk about safe sex! Nothing to worry about from a wall full of eyes. And if you’re an exhibitionist, it’s better than a webcam. As for the risk of going blind, I think that’s a myth like with masturbation. And a naughty boy could actually aim to spoo in a different eye after night… Plus, when you don’t want to be gawked at by the mokumokuren, you just put up a poster of Zac Efron!
This is the perfect monster to engage those shy rice queens. Or people who like to listen to Kim Carnes. Maybelline’s headquarters is pretty haunted with them by now.
The mokumokuren. I won’t blink twice at reading about them. I’ve not seen… well, you get the joke.


  • @merith, actually, psi folk are the least human. The other monsters want to be human again, to love and live normal lives rather than rampage the countryside/live on a liquid diet/etc.

    Psis go one of two ways: the “Oh I wish i were normal and not a freak” way or the one who embraces being more than human, who revels in it. The latter tend to be a little on the Nietzchean side.

  • I think I’d pass on the mummy, zombie and probably even the merman. Leprechaun, maybe, depending on the premise.

    Shapeshifters are still on my favorite to read list, depending on how they’re written. Vampires are farther down on the list, only because they’re so overdone in pure teenage girl fantasy. I’m getting tired of reading ‘Twilight’ style vampire love stories.

    By the same token as you say, having a ghostly lover would get you no where. I would think it’d become rather frustrating, ghostly limitations and all.

    If we’re dragging out more mythological characters rather than monsters, I’d say let’s check out the elves. I can’t picture orcs, goblins or ogres (sorry Shrek!) as being a romantic lead, not without the story being more tongue-in-cheek, but, maybe?

    So, what’s left? Alien creatures or subterranean ones as yet undiscovered. Would a big foot/yeti/wookie be considered a ‘furry’? How about monsters of magic or mind (PSI)? Of course, they’re more human than other.

  • I have a friend who is trying to place a kitsune paranormal. She’s having no luck.

    On the other hand, Kiernan Kelley’s Seti’s Heart is a pretty good mummy romance.

    I just turned in cyberpunk mermen for a Circlet anthology (no word yet). Like dolphins, the penis retracts into the body.

    My werewolves are out in print and my vamps weren’t very good to start with. (Too much Queer as Folk not enough plot) I like my demons. Boy meets Incubus is always fun, especially when Boy doesn’t believe. (Boy got dragged to hell for being a general rotter and user, not for gayness) And how about a wealth demon who owns a strip club?

    The big thing I’m seeing right now is the nephilim, whether positively or negatively portrayed.

    Zombies are hot, but–like steampunk–almost over. I’ve written several zombie stories. None where the zombies have sex. No plans to either. For some reason those always come out with no relationship or with lesbians.

    • Misa Izanaki at Torquere has several stories with Japanese mythology including a kitsune, an oni and a tanuki.


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I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports - especially baseball
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