Monday, June 11, 2012
Review: The Touch of the Sea edited by Steve Berman
It is summer time. Some of us dream of the sea and the lulling sounds of mesmerizing waves, the smell of sea salt, forever skies, and sunshine. Mariners have always referred to the sea as she . . . but when I picked up The Touch of the Sea edited by Steve Berman, I knew there would be one difference and was ready to sit back, relax, and dream some more while enjoying eleven stories of men, myths, adventures, love, and the magic of the sea.
I found the magic. It is there in mythology-based stories as in Chaz Brechley's Keep the Aspidochelone Floating, the gorgeous seafaring myth-based story full of greedy pirates and an exciting whale hunt that become part of Sailor Martin's adventures along with his obsession and love for cabin boy Sebastian. And in The Stone of Sacrifice where Jeff Mann combines Gaelic mythology with a few of his signature erotic scenes in a story of love lost when a man unknowingly calls the god Shoney and the lure of new love becomes an obsession.
I found the dreams. They are there in stories of mermen luring the incautious or the fated to the sea, as in Out to Sea by John Howard, The Calm Tonight by Matthew A Merendo, and in Ban's Dreams of the Sea where Alex Jeffers creates a mesmerizing fable where through erotic dreams, alluring sea creatures lure men and women into the sea. And again in Air Tears, a beautiful story about changes, choices and looking forward, Damon Shaw weaves a tale where as payment for a kiss and an erotic encounter by the sea, a man may never again return to land.
I found the adventure. It is there in The Bloated Woman by Jonathan Harper and in Wave Boys, Vincent Kovar's excellent seafaring adventure full of boys with tribal rituals, pent-up desires, a kraken, youthful aggression, pride and loss. This is my favorite story of the anthology due to the strong narrative voice, the excellent world building, and characters that drew me in from the first page. I wanted more of this story . . . just more. Then, in Night of the Sea Beast, Brandon Cracraft returns to 1956 and with this period piece, he mixes monster movie making, ala Creature Features, with Greek mythology, a multiple murder investigation, and a wonderful tale of brotherhood.
And of course I found love. There's loving of one sort or another in all the stories, but some are about that second chance at love or lost love. 'Nathan Burgoine's Time and Tide mixes up old Naiad myths with a tale about accepting gifts and love when a man returns home to the call of the sea and an old lover. And there's The Grief of Seagulls by Joel Lane. His is a story of coming to terms with love lost where after grieving for ten years, a man meets his dead lover come to life for one night of passion.
Overall, the stories in The Touch of the Sea are well crafted and while all are entertaining, some tales are downright mesmerizing. They also fit this anthology perfectly so that by the time I finished reading, I could smell the sea salt and feel that sunshine. Fun!
Category: LGBT/Speculative Fiction
Publisher/Release Date: Lethe Press/May 15, 2012
Source: Lethe Press
Visit Steve Berman here.