Carnal Machines

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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C'mon, Feel My Affection For Machine Love!

I had been wanting to get my hands on this book since it first appeared on Eden. I am certainly glad I did. The stories feature creative and sexy uses of machines alongside a variety of erotic activities. There is absolutely something for everyone in this book. Kinky, vanilla, gay, lesbian, straight, gender queer-this book has it all!
Published:
Pros:
A variety of content, Most of the stories are excellent
Cons:
A couple of stories lacked development
Rating by reviewer:
5
extremely useful review

Content / Style / Audience

Carnal Machines is a collection of erotic tales with a steampunk theme. For those unfamiliar with steampunk, it is a genre of science fiction that takes place during the Victorian era, when steam was driving technology. Machines portrayed in steam punk fiction do not only include those that existed at that time. More modern devices are also re-imagined in the steam age style. D.L. King, the editor of this collection, goes into greater detail about the intricacies of the steam punk genre in her introduction. The prevailing theme in all fifteen stories included in this book is the use of machines for sexual pleasure. The sheer variety of machines used from one story to the next is astounding. There are steam powered machines, clockwork machines, and even electric machines (complete with buzzing Tesla coils!). To provide a better idea of the content of this book, I offer a brief summary of each story, along with information about sexual "pairings", sexual acts that may be notable to specific readers, and my own personal rating (5 out of 5):

Human Powered by Teresa Noelle Roberts-A female engineer has developed a machine that is supposed to convert sexual frustration into usable energy. With the help of her handsome colleague, she discovers that sexual pleasure is a much more potent power. M/F, 5/5.

The Servant Question by Janine Ashbless-Tulliver makes his living selling reliable housekeeper automatons to wealthy housewives. A call to a client's home reveals that one housewife has found a new use for her mechanical helper. M/F, Strap-on sex, 5/5.

Sleight of Hand by Renee Michaels-A professional thief on assignment is captured by her arch-nemesis and old flame, an inventor with a few new contraptions to test on her! M/F, bondage, 5/5.

Mutiny on the Danika Blue by Poe Von Page-Jael and his men successfully gain control of the Danika Blue, a ship sailing the vast sea of space. When Jael and the ship's flame-haired cartographer engage in some private celebration, the real captain in charge is revealed. M/F, femdom, pegging, 5/5.

Deviant Devices by Kannan Feng-A prostitute is called to the home of a mysterious client. She soon learns that the client is what his assistant calls "a man of diverse tastes". M/F, 5/5.

The Perfect Girl by Jay Lawrence-A young girl working at a brothel receives a visit from a man and his mysterious female companion. The story climaxes when the truth about the companion comes to light. M/F, F/F, bondage, paddling, 3/5.

Dr. Mullaley's Cure by Delilah Devlin-A young, inexperienced woman takes a job at a clinic specializing in female hysteria. The doctor takes time from his busy schedule to demonstrate the instruments of his trade. M/F, bondage, 5/5.

Her Own Devices by Lisabet Sarai-In Victorian era Hong Kong, a brothel worker visits her master's competitor to offer to buy his erotic machines. While it is clear that the inventor of these devices is a genius, he is certainly not as he seems. F/gender play, 5/5.

Lair of the Red Countess by Kathleen Bradean-A bored adventurer visits the home of a Spiritualist leader. She uses her "soul machine" to take him on the erotic adventure of a lifetime. M/F, femdom, bondage, caning, 4/5.

Infernal Machine by Elias A. St. James-A young man salvages and repairs a mysterious, mechanized chair. When he discovers how exactly the chair works, it leads to a steamy encounter with his handsome lover. M/M, bondage, 5/5.

Doctor Watson Makes a House Call by Essemoh Teepee-You probably know Dr. Watson as the sidekick of Sherlock Holmes. In this tale, he treats a sexually frustrated woman, and his treatment is anything but elementary! M/F, 5/5.

The Treatment by D.L. King-Two young men pay a visit to the home of Miss Li. Miss Li has perfected a treatment for excess sexual energy that also provides electricity for her home. M/F, bondage, femdom, 5/5.

Lucifer Einstein and the Curious Case of the Carnal Contraption by Tracey Shellito-Try saying that title five time fast! Detective Luci Einstein and her companion Earnshaw investigate a strange case of a sex machine-wielding attacker. F/F, bondage, 5/5.

The Succubus by Elizabeth Schechter-A man visits an exclusive brothel and has an encounter with an automaton known as The Succubus. M/F, femdom, bondage, caning, flogging, 5/5.

As you can see, there is a little something for everyone in this book. There are stories that will appeal to straight, gay, lesbian, and gender queer audiences. There are stories with varying levels of bondage and discipline as well as stories with more mainstream, vanilla sex.

For the most part, the stories are well-written. I found the efforts of some of the authors to write in a style befitting the Victorian era admirable and amusing. Surprisingly, the veiled language of that era does not take away from the hotness of the stories. If anything, I found the subtlety highly arousing.

There were a couple of stories that lost points with me, because I felt the character or plot development was lacking. For example, the motives of the main male character in The Perfect Girl weren't exactly clear. Honestly, there was no point to his brothel visit in my opinion, except that it served as a setup for the big reveal about his lady companion. In Lair of the Red Countess, the lady of the manor seemed to know her visitor intimately despite never having made his acquaintance previously. Was the reader to assume that her knowledge was the result of some sort of supernatural power? The Countess did dabble in Spiritualism after all. For a book of fifteen stories, only having two that weren't quite up to snuff is pretty good.
  • Who / How / What
    [ ? ]
    Who might this product be best for? How is it best used? What are the best circumstances or situations for using this product?
    • All type of readers
  • Where
    [ ? ]
    Where / what types of places can this product be used?
    • Anywhere
  • General
    [ ? ]
    Other tags that are useful and descriptive for this product.
    • Bdsm
    • Fiction
    • Good mix of styles and content

Design

The book itself is softcover and 202 pages. The size of the book 8" x 5-1/2". This is a nice portable size for slipping into a purse or gym bag. The cover of the book has a stunning image of a raven-haired female wearing a pair of goggles with steam valves and clockwork parts on them. Her dress, which is mostly concealed by the title, appears to be made of distressed leather with lacing details that give it a vaguely Victorian feel. The title of the book appears in large letters with the words, "Steampunk erotica" below it in smaller letters. The cover is still relatively discreet.

The inside of the book is organized simply. Each story is a new chapter. There is a quick introduction from editor D.L King that talks about steampunk and the Victorian era. At the end of the book are brief bios of all of contributors and the editor. A few pages are then dedicated to listing other titles available from Cleis Press with prices and an order form.

The cover, binding, and paper are pretty typical of mass market softcover books. The cover is glossy. The paper is of decent weight and quality. The binding is sturdy but flexible.
    • Discreet cover
    • Small size
    • Soft cover
Follow-up commentary
Carnal Machines has held up to multiple readings. With the exception of the two stories that fell flat (The Perfect Girl and Lair of the Red Countess), I still enjoyed this collection of steam-powered sex stories. I hope that Cleis Press continues to release high-quality, creative erotica collections such as this one.
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Comments
  • kitty91
    kitty91  
    great review!
  • spiced
    spiced  
    Interesting genre! I might have to look for a used copy of this. Thanks for the great review.
  • phoenixfire
    phoenixfire  
    What a shame Eden doesn't carry this one any longer! Great review. Looks like a really fun book.
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