Below is the series overview, and then below that is the entirety of my preface to this new publication...
A thousand years from now and in another history, the Solar System teems with life. Ships sail the aether, linking humanity’s thousands of disparate nations and clades on all the planets and their many moons. Wars flare and fade, conspiracies thrive and then die, loves and lusts burn hotter than the sun. It is the age of the apex of the children of Earth, but in the deep background of the affairs of sprawling humanity, sinister forces, preternatural phenomena, ornate evil, and bizarre schemes reach everywhere. Standing against these, on the side of light, is the super-powerful Commander Jace and his elite (and lusty) cadre of astonishing queer young men…the so-called “Unsuitable Boys.”
ABOUT A SCIENCE-FANTASY
As I remarked in my preface to Kyler Fey’s recent collection Kyler Spurts: Autofiction, Journal Entries and One-Shots, his erotic writings bleed real life into fiction and fiction into real life in a way unlike anything else I have read. He characterizes his own work as “strange elaborations upon dreams and masturbation fantasies and fictionalized re-imaginings of real sexual experiences.” He does this in modes ranging from straightforward autobiography to science fantasy and supernatural horror. What all Fey’s modes have in common, it seems to me, is an intense and very honest interrogation of his own sexual persona and what makes it hum. He makes it obvious what he likes, and he often shares details that most other writers might leave unwritten. He frequently names secondary characters after himself. Would he want to be, at least a little bit, any of these characters in real life? No answer to that question is offered. He would say that in all cases, “I was just jerking off at my computer, and this is what came out.”
But he offers a bit more than “just jerking off” in discussing the conception of his serial Commander Jace and the Unsuitable Boys, the first five “episodes” of which are gathered in this book:
“It comes from two main fictional impulses. The first is an enthusiasm for the series sci-fi format whether it’s original-series Star Trek on TV or the written pulp serials like the Burroughs Mars novels or Doc Savage. The latter is perhaps more relevant to the Jace project in that it is about an ensemble of weird dudes who, with their special skills, confront one strange threat upon the next, led through it all by their superhuman leader. The second thing is the fact that I didn’t see anything out there that merged this pulp science fiction mentality with another love: hardcore, dirty gay erotica. It always sounds kind of twee to me when a writer talks about needing to write something because the book that they really want to read just doesn’t yet exist, but I’ll admit that was part of it for me with this project. I wanted a weird adventure serial with fantastical trappings and with lots of hot boys fucking their brains out the whole time, and all this fucking and sucking related in lengthy detail. Also, I wanted something with a decent level of attention to the writing itself as a thing just as important as the story. I wasn’t finding a lot of that anywhere. A lot of what’s out there with the level of sex that I want also tends to have contemporary settings and more realistic characters and a focus on straightforward plot. I’m not necessarily looking for the kind of plausibility that some gay erotica writers—especially romance-genre ones—often go for.
“The universe of Jace is not a romance-novel universe even though there is love in it. It’s instead purposely a fantastical pornotopia, a term that I picked up from Samuel Delany, much of whose fiction can be said to be set in such a universe, though most of his work is a lot more realistic than what I had in mind for my project. I was informed in my conception of the pornotopia especially by his huge, grand novel Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. Here’s what my M-Brane Press editor Fletcher said about it on his blog a few years ago:
‘Because in this world that Delany describes, the sex ain't ever bad. It is always consensual and pleasurable--even when among immediate family--and it is always available in the most unlikely locations and at the weirdest times. If you are horny in this world, you will get promptly laid. If you like it with multiple partners at once, they are at your disposal. Any kink you can imagine getting off upon will be available. A truck stop and a giant movie theater are well known as places for public sex among men and they exist openly, totally un-harassed by the law and society (save for some occasional interference from the ineffectual background villain Johnston). Likewise a ‘Gay Friendly Rest Room’ at the market (which scene, by the way, includes some very funny comic writing). The protag Eric has a fetish for piss, and so there exists for a while a bar that is designed to make his fantasies real, almost as if it were put into business years before specifically anticipating his eventual arrival in town. This is why the porn of Through the Valley... is a whole different thing than the porn of Delany's earlier novel Hogg (written decades ago, even before Dhalgren but not published until many years later). There's no horror, coercion or brutality in this newer book. Instead, it's a sex utopia. Fantasy, even if it's not your particular personal fantasy. So, if porn is fantasy-about-sex, then this novel works easily, almost silkily and insidiously, within that definition.’
“The men in Delany’s pornotopia sometimes seem to have no real limits to how much they can fuck, as if they can cum and then need no refractory period at all before their next erection. So I figured that if as fine a writer and intellectual as Delany can create such a world and make it the setting and reality of such a towering work of fiction as Through the Valley, then a common civilian like me may dare to endow my own fictional world with whatever kind of fuck-aesthetic I wish without worrying about ‘realism’ too much. These people in my stories do, after all, live on multiple planets and travel between them on weird sailing vessels. Is it too much stranger if one of my characters can somehow ejaculate a dozen times in an afternoon?”
Fey offers some further insight into the background of his sexually graphic narrative, into how those science-fantasy stories were created, how they were built out of their author’s own queer sexuality. But more precisely: by his literal cock-behavior, by his peculiar writing process in which he exerted himself very deliberately to not jerk off too much. He imposed such restraint upon himself to help foster and maintain the ongoing and unrelieved hard-on that he considered necessary to motivate him to write what he calls “an honest written gay pornography” at considerable length, at a length and depth far exceeding what one usually sees in the surfeit of short erotica available for e-readers. Says Fey in his foreword to his “fuck-memoir” One Hundred Times:
“Any reader should be aware before looking at the following pages that this is an erotic work with hundreds of depictions of gay sex acts strewn throughout, and therefore probably unsuitable for some audiences, though I think it may be entertaining for fags of pretty much any age and for queer-sex-tolerant readers who like science fantasy.
“I have periodically included in my writing some erotic passages, and I have occasionally attempted to write in a fully pornographic mode, but I always found that I’d never finish anything. Inevitably, I would become too aroused by the topic, grab my dick, jerk off, drop cum on the wood floor under my desk…and, during the natural refractory period that a male usually experiences after he drops his spunk, I would lose the most intense interest in the subject matter, stop writing about that and move on to something else.
“In the planning for Commander Jace and the Unsuitable Boys I took as a valuable tip a comment from Samuel Delany who, in his essay “Pornography and Censorship” (published in Shorter Views, Wesleyan, 1999) said that a part of his approach to writing his first published pornographic novel Equinox was this:
‘One of the self-imposed constraints on the writing of Equinox was that I would write none of it unless I was actually in a state of sexual arousal, even for the nonsexual parts—an undertaking I’d advise only for the young and/or obsessive.’ (page 295)
“This makes a lot of obvious sense to me for a writer who wants ever to complete a very long piece of erotica, especially one with any sort of literary ambition (yes, I confess to having some small such thing even for my pulp sci-fi/porn undertaking). It makes sense to me that the author’s arousal must be basic to the project of written porn—even when writing about things that might not necessarily be in that own writer’s own bag of sexual tricks—if simply to sustain interest in the thing long enough to finish a work of honest written gay pornography. It’s quite logical to me that a male writer of erotica would, at least much of the time, have a stiff cock while he is writing. So, I decided that I would work on my erotic serial, like how Delany worked during the drafting of Equinox, only while stiff and interested in imagining and perpetrating gay sex acts. But I also decided that I needed to take measures to ensure long periods of sustained arousal so that I could get a lot of this kind of writing done quickly. So, I have been on a program of controlled orgasm-denial for months.”
Borrowing a phrase and a concept from Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand—further acknowledging the science fiction grand master and sex radical’s deep influence upon him—Fey composes in One Hundred Times the ornate and semen-glazed picture of his “perfect erotic object,” a young man that he calls “Braden,” a nineteen-year-old twinky gay boy (only half Fey’s own age at the time of these events) who worked at the grocery store that Fey visits nearly every day. He reveals that he had harbored a lustful attraction to this young queer for a long time, had been jerking off to daydreams about him for ages, and that this real-world Braden is, in fact, the “model” that Fey used for the fictional character of Braden—with whom the reader will spend a lot of time in these stories—the touch-telepathic principal lover of Jace Dekka in the Unsuitable Boys books, an imaginary guy that he’d already created in that image by the time Fey got to know personally the Braden character’s living physical template.
Fey tells of how he finally found an excuse to approach the real Braden in person, introduce himself as a compatriot in the writing of fantasy and science fiction, and then successfully attract this young man to him for sex. The rest of the account chronicles a series of fuck-dates between them, including one of great length and variety that fills most of the second half of the volume. This account could be interesting and perhaps arousing to certain readers (such as lit-porn-oriented fags like myself who get hard-ons and jack off while reading this kind of thing) in and of itself, but the other thing that makes it worth reading to my writer/editor mind is the running background detail related to Fey’s writing and the way that he evidently continually edits his weird fictional universe in light of new things that he observes or does in his real world. Always there is a frankness about the way in which he tells the reader what he likes, what turns him on and what he does about it. There are no fade-to-black moments with lovers disappearing under sheets of imagination, and almost nothing in the way of gauzy sentimentality. You will not find characters, as you might in some m/m romance fiction, stewing for the whole book in juices of uncertainty, of first-timer jitters, of fear of their own emotional and sexual exposure. Fey, who calls himself a “shy exhibitionist—shy in real life, all out there on the page,” likes to tell the reader what gets him off, and how the entire reason that much of his erotic work took the shape that is has was because he found another guy who was a kind of kindred erotic spirit. Were it not for the happenstance of his affair with the real Braden, then I suspect items like the novellas contained in this volume would never have been written in the same way and that the fictional Braden on the pages of the Jace books would be a very different man.
Fey designed his series to somewhat like the original Star Trek tv show in the sense that one can start anywhere during its run and get the gist of it. But it doesn’t have a “reset button” like Star Trek did, and there may be some references that won’t make a lot of sense if one comes first into it in the middle or toward the end, but those references do not render any single installment incomprehensible. The series does, however, contain a story arc that will eventually reach its climax in the tenth episode. In these first five books, one might occasionally notice an idea or a story thread that seems to get discarded, but one can be assured that nothing will be left unfinished when the next five episodes lay out the rest of the story. A general overview of the concept and the progress of the series to this point may be useful for the new reader.
First, here is the series blurb and the dramatic personae summary that has appeared at the head of some of the electronic volumes…
still called “Commander” by the many slaves he once liberated, he is an enhanced super-being, possessing a genius intellect, the strength of several men—and the superheated libido of many more. His work against enemies from his past continues without rest even as he struggles with his personal demons. But he knows he cannot save the Solar System alone, so he has created an elite cadre of eight queer young men that he calls the Unsuitable Boys…
A former sperm-slave and elite rentboy, his body riven with sexual enhancements, he fought alongside Jace during the secret “Dirty War,” and has the uncanny ability to almost instantly learn new languages.
Jace’s adopted son, he is a touch-telepath who can experience other people’s thoughts and interior monologues in the form of strange and symbolic stories—during intense sex with them.
An aetherspace engineer by training, he discovered as a youth an impossible ability: he can, with the power of his mind—and while in a state of fiery gay lust—teleport himself and others to any point in the Solar System.
A hacker of extraordinary genius, he can commune with artificial intelligence in both cyberspace and aetherspace—and his body is an arsenal of erotic modifications.
Once a child prodigy who trained himself as a biologist and a physician, he was rescued from a sinister enterprise by Jace Dekka and is now the team’s doctor. Reclusive by nature, he harbors a frightening sexual secret.
A brilliant tactician and game theorist—and an intense and amorous lover of men—the youngest of the Unsuitable Boys employs his formidable talents to keep them all safe.
This neuroatypical youth can see beneath the substrate of reality and show people astounding visions of what’s real and what is yet to come with his drawings and paintings. Occasionally his intense curiosity (and intense sexual arousal) leads him into danger.
He “hears” an underlying music in the aether and can sometimes make it audible to others through his mysterious songs. A Venusian “maph,” he has the ability to bear children…and a nearly insatiable appetite for the bodies of his teammates.
The titular character, Commander Jace Dekka, is established a sort of “enhanced” human. Many of the details of his history are yet to be presented by the end of these first five episodes, but in bits and pieces throughout, one can assemble the picture of someone with a strange and violent past which evidently involved a campaign to end the practice of breeding slavery which had arisen in a plethora of human nations and “clades” scattered throughout the Solar System during the decades preceding the start of this series. It appears that by the start of episode #1, this battle is largely won and that Jace has settled into a sort of semi-retirement, surrounded by a group of young men that he rather puckishly calls “the Unsuitable Boys.” They each have a special skill or feature of their biography that has put them in association with Jace, sharing with him and each other a large home or compound on the island of Maya Plaxa. While the precise location of this island is not described, it is established as being on Earth at a tropical latitude and in reasonable proximity to a mainland nation called the Kruze Republic. It is hinted that Jace is rather older than he appears due to a form of arrested physical aging and that he may be a clone of a previous version of himself (Fey confirms that Jace’s backstory will be presented in more detail in a later episode that has been drafted but not yet finished). He possesses great physical strength and radically enhanced sexual functions, but he also appears to be plagued by depression and substance abuse. He is also vastly wealthy, a trait that the author gave him as a deliberate nod to the “billionaire” trope common in erotica where having unlimited money enables the protagonist to do a lot of improbable things.
It is established that an entity known as the Tong Tiphon was a major foe for Jace during his earlier career, and that they were largely defeated. Also established is the fact that Jace’s own father—deceased some years before these events—was a collaborator of some kind with the Tiphon whose main industry seems to have had something to do with the enslavement of fertile queer males for their sperm during a long period of mysterious reduced male fertility in the general human population. These first five episodes detail the apparent reconstitution of this enemy, their bizarre schemes, and the start of a new period of warfare with them for Commander Jace and his boys.
This universe has a ton of backstory, much of which is not detailed in these first five books, and much of which may never show up explicitly. Says Fey,
“When I started working on this, my plan was just to write a slew of super-quick pulp science fantasy short stories. The plan was that I’d just jerk off for four or five thousand words, bust a load, do a quick edit and then publish the thing. I created an outline for twenty-eight ‘episodes,’ that outline consisting of nothing but a bunch of lurid titles that I would then write stories to fit. I cribbed heavily from a list of Doc Savage titles on Wikipedia, slightly adapting a bunch of those for my stories. I listed out an ensemble of characters, the images of each of them in my head based on dudes in real life that were getting my cock hard and showing up in my jerk-off fantasies, and their leader—Jace—loosely based on a cartoonish version of my husband Danny (but with an even bigger dick than his and with my own tendency toward alcohol abuse and depression). These characters weren’t originally to have much content to them: they were to be pretty fuck-ciphers boning their way through one weird adventure after another. I imagined the whole series, once completed, to be collectible in a single 140,000-word book. But then I spent about a year doing more world-building than actual story-writing.
“The characters became more complex and distinct from one another, the universe gained tons more detail and history, and an actual story arc started to form. My drafts of bits and pieces of the series started to run to great length. The first ‘episode’ truly completed was number five in my outline, The Intersex Boys of Venus. Its final draft showed off a whole universe not quite like what I had in my head at the meat-beating inception of this project. So I backfilled more details into the earlier episodes, retconned a few things to make them consistent with episode five, lengthened them wildly. Every one of the first five became a novella. This collection of the first five stories is nearly 150,000 words long. There will not be twenty-eight of them. As things evolved, the number of episodes fell to twenty-one, then to sixteen. I think there will be five more, for a total of ten. Or that’s how many more I have in various stages of drafting right now. I am sad to have had to shed a lot of my awesome titles (most of which had no story to hang upon them anyway), but maybe there will be a second ‘season’ someday.”
The second half of this first “season” of Commander Jace and the Unsuitable Boys will commence soon with the electronic publication of episode #6. But before that, please spend plenty of time immersing yourself in Kyler Fey’s vivid pornotopia by way of these first five episodes collected under one cover.
Saint Louis 2018