imageTitle: Marginalia
Author: Laney Cairo
Cover Artist: unknown
Publisher & Buy Link: Torquere Press
Amazon: Buy Link Marginalia
Genre: M/M Romance, Erotica, S/F Dystopia
Length: 21,400 words
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 rating stars

A Guest Review by Raine

Summary Review: Interesting post apocalyptic set up but there was an unevenness in the treatment of the story which combined a hard edge erotic vibe with a soft romantic centre.

Blurb: Bailey likes to cut people—in a purely consensual way—which makes his work as a surgical technician with cosmetic enhancement corporation SirenCare his dream job. His recreational pursuits, however, would displease his employer, so he lives his personal life on the margins of Sydney, away from SirenCare’s corporate enclave, taking his chances in a city without water or power.

Quint is one of his chances, an illegal resident who pulls beer and breaks up fights. Quint’s not used to corporate men with the means to buy water, but he could get accustomed to being with Bailey and Bailey’s friend, Flynn, who engineers new and addictive body mods for SirenCare.

When Immigration incarcerates Quint as an illegal resident, only intervention by a corporation can free him. Can Bailey, with Flynn, persuade SirenCare that a disreputable bar tender is carrying experimental body mods, and should be rescued from detention?

Originally published in the Spiked anthology.


This dystopian Australia is described in almost too much detail which, while revealing a sweaty, grubby hard life for those outside the clean living corporations, did not produce any unexpected surprises. Water rationing and extreme body modifications are just two elements that represent the differences to be found in this society.

The particular descriptions of the very different lives our guys cope with were well imagined and added an interesting extra layer to their personalities. Quint is a an outsider grafting in the margins. While Bailey is a skilled worker with a fascinating taste for body stretching kink. Their relationship is initially pure hedonistic hard edged sex, representative of a general mood of social opportunistic rutting. I found the timescale within the novella was too short to hold up the weight of the unexpected journey into warm hearted rescue. So I felt a trifle wrong footed by the lurch from some hot erotica to caring and warmth.

The general atmosphere of life being lived under threat of an unkind universe created a genuine stress to the story. This added to the underlying tension existing within this unequal and difficult society. However the solution to Quint’s problem’s seemed to happen quickly and rather too easily. Though the erotic cheekiness of Bailey’s version of a white knight rescue was appealing.

This is the first of Laney Cairo’s writing set in a dystopian world that I have read. I confess that I much prefer her contemporary work. Her outstanding and very original novel, Bad Case of Loving You is one of my rationed rereads and on my best ever M/M shelf.