I'll be honest, this is only the second time I've bought an e-book or e-story, which is silly, really, considering I'm stuck in a country with no proper bookstores. I think I've been suffering from the same, stupid prejudice as many people - if it's not on paper, it can't be any good. If you feel this way, then the sooner you rid yourself of the prejudice the better, because otherwise, you're missing a lot of good writing.
I just purchased, downloaded and devoured M. Christian's Hack Work, from the Logical Lust site. No one asked me to review it, so I have no idea if he'll thank me for this or not.
Hack Work is a short work of speculative fiction set in the city of New Orleans in an unspecified future. The main character, Moss, is a woman who hires out her body to "fares" who pay to have experiences through her - using her like a remote sensing device. Although she's been at her job for some time, the client who hires her on this occasion, prompts her to question her assumptions of complicity, accountability, and confronts her with her own reactions as a "puppet" in the process.
As with all M. Christian's work, it is exceptionally well written: spare where it needs to be and lushly original where it matters. He pulls you down into the humid, forsaken city expertly. His "taxi" girl is elegantly introduced through beautifully economical language. It's rare to find a short story writer who does this so proficiently, especially because having a good sense of who this woman is is integral to the story. It is her identity, her agency, or the lack of it, that sits at the crux of the tale.
Hack Work has both the elements I consider essential to good erotic fiction: sexual heat, of course, but also moral ambiguity. It touches tantalizingly on universal issues of free will and responsibility. The main character approaches and withdraws from her own involvement in the acts her "client" demands that she perform, and - rather intelligently, I felt - she leaves us without having reached any firm conclusions.
The title itself is a challenge. It brings up images of writer as "hack" and the old word for the driver of a Hackney Cab. It sews them together again, reminding us of how writing is a guided, mediated experience for the reader, and something akin to channeling a voodoo god, for the writer.
Beyond the enjoyment of the story itself, Hack Work stands as an excellent example of how to do intelligent, erotic, short fiction right.
Hack Work, by M. Christian, can be purchased HERE
Causes Remittance Girl Supports
Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women The Pleasure Project: A sex-positive organization working in the HIV prevention field.