Here, I must I correct myself — C.S. Lewis is the second-best reason to try Audible. The first is Laura Antoniou‘s classic, magnificent BDSM novel, The Marketplace, one of the timeless classics of the genre. It is now out from Audible, narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki. It is the first in a lengthy series that includes at least one shared-world anthology set in the universe of the novels. Even better — because I already own the Kindle edition, I apparently get the audition edition for $1.99, as part of Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice promotion. I just wanted to brag about that.
Antoniou wrote The Marketplace under the name Sara Adamson back when we were both doing books for a certain gentleman named Richard Kasak at Masquerade Books. Actually, Laura predated my time working with Masquerade by a little bit. Two of my first professional anthology sales was to Laura’s By Her Subdued and No Other Tribute, shortly after I cracked the anthology market with my story “Dark Fiber” in Cecilia Tan‘s S/M Futures from Circlet Press.
Circlet would later reprint The Marketplace, and to this day is its publisher, keeping it in print unlike most other classic erotic novels, which tend to float in and out of print randomly.
Laura has since gone on to write and edit many great books and stories, and to influence the world of BDSM through her activism and teaching. The Marketplace and Laura’s other writings were a principal influence, in the early days, on James Mogul’s The Training of O (NSFW link) and particularly on Peter Acworth‘s pet project The Upper Floor (NSFW link) around the time I was working at Kink.com (also a NSFW link) or shortly thereafter (2008 and early 2009).
Just to get all James Burke on your asses, I should point out that I would also later write a zombie novel set at The Armory, in which the two chief antagonists were a Blackwater-esque private security company and a sort of combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut…er, that is, a combination Kink.com and Wikileaks. The Inferno of The Panama Laugh is not actually very much like either institution, but it is perhaps reminiscent of what would happen if Kink.com and Wikileaks joined in an axis of evil with San Francisco Sex Information, 1980s-era The Society of Janus and early-’90s era ACT-UP SF, then got involved with radical life extension technologies, bioterrorism and lighter-than-air platforms for counter-insurgency warfare.
The powerfully erotic cryptohistory secret-society feel of The Marketplace influenced many of my pseudonymous works, but it is in The Panama Laugh that I wrote about that powerful world of sexual fantasy from the point of view of a disinterested outsider. It gave me a pretty weird perspective more than 20 years on, since I’ve always felt like an outsider despite being involved with the BDSM community for almost a quarter of a century.
Laura Antoniou, me, and Cecilia Tan are all still around and kicking within the erotica, sex activism and speculative fiction communities. As a matter of fact, the three of us each continue to kick with rather big boots.
But Richard Kasak passed away this past year, around about April, and I never wrote a tribute to him. I meant to…but I was working a new job in San Francisco and ran headlong into a crushing depression at the time, as I tend to. Richard’s tribute was one of the projects I lost hold of this past Spring.
So for what it’s worth, on the occasion of mentioning Laura’s amazing and influential The Marketplace, I’ll also say RIP to Richard Kasak. Richard was the first publisher of The Marketplace and was a far bigger influence on American fiction than most people will ever appreciate, except maybe me, Laura, Cecilia Tan, Maxim Jakubowski, M. Christian, Michael Rowe, Mike Ford, Susie Bright, Violet Blue, Carol Queen, Lori Selke and perhaps a dozen other people.
Godspeed to Richard, visit Laura Antoniou at http://lantoniou.com/ and go buy The Marketplace, now.