Niall Teasdale’s Steel Beneath the Skin, published 2011, is one of those books that makes me itch to write.
Aneka Jansen, kidnapped by aliens in 2011, is reborn as a cyborg a thousand years in the future, in an omnisexual utopian society where everyone seems to be having sex with each other…
A lot of reviewers complain about the amount of sex. Now, I’m hardly in a position to do so, but I would say that the problem is not the amount of sex so much as the amount of sex that doesn’t really advance the plot or character development in any useful way, so it ends up reading like sex-story-sex-story-sex, a bit like watching TV and having the scheduled programme interrupted every fifteen minutes for five minutes of random sex. As a result, you end up wishing you could buy the DVD and watch it without the adverts…
It’s fun rather than serious sci-fi; the tag-line could almost be:
Sex and the City – on a spaceship! Uncut and explicit!
On the other hand: Girls having sex! With each other! Sometimes more than two at a time!
On the other other hand: Cyborgs, like vampires, can wear stilettos with ease.
So, basically, Aneka Jansen is a seriously hot bisexy cyborg in stilettos having lots and lots of sex.
The writer in me says: Wouldn’t it have been far more interesting to write her as asexual?
Aneka Jansen, bisexy army lass, wakes up a thousand years in the future, surrounded by lusty guys and girls hungering for a taste of her synthetic charms – and she has absolutely no sexual desire for them. Can she find true love in a universe that demands the one thing from her that she can no longer give?
So, if I ever write a sexy-space-cyborg story, the blurb will probably look something like that.
Anyway, Steel Beneath the Skin is – for the most part – a fun read which does get serious and dark in places, and there is a proper sci-fi story above and beyond all the sex. And while I feel the sex could have been dialled back without adversely affecting the story, it plays a key role in establishing a future, peaceful, utopian society of sexual freedom and gender equality, and thus defines the antithesis, an alternative society that is aggressive both politically and sexually.
The second part of the trilogy, The Cold Steel Mind, has just been released.