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The Velderet Paperback – February 25, 2015
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Tan, a widely published sf-erotica short-story writer, now attempts to meld the genres in a novel. Although the results are mixed, the potential of her genre blending is, to say the least, stirring. Roommates Kobi (male) and Merin (female) live in a world too utopian to be utopia. Free from all inequality, they share a strange desire: to be sexual slaves. Their fellow Bellonians discourage any iniquity, so Kobi and Merin explore their fantasies secretly in cyberspace at the state-sanctioned sex house at which Kobi works, the Velderet. When the Bellonians inaugurate diplomatic relations with the powerful, belligerent Kylarans, their entire existence soon rests on Kobi's willingness to be enslaved. Tan does well at wedding futuristic fantasy and sex, but sf buffs will have to suspend disbelief repeatedly to keep from poking holes in the sometimes-thin plot. Still, Tan's interesting exercise in alchemy manages to provoke the mind nearly as much as the body. John Green
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Top customer reviews
This is definitely a book any fan of erotica should check out. It has an assortment of steamy sex scenes, but it's not another pointless and plotless erotic novel.
Not only is Cecilia Tan's book wonderful as a work of erotica -- there is sex in every chapter and it's hot, arousing sex that varies so much I ended up turning page after page, eager to see what the characters would try next -- it's also a great science fiction story with believable alien worlds and advanced technology as well as the traditional tendency towards social commentary in a fictional form. Despite the theme of BDSM being outlawed in Kobi and Merin's world, The Velderet never felt preachy or moralizing to me. The characters felt real and the plot was believable. Even the sex scenes were an integral part of the plot rather than side-explorations parallel to the plot. All in all, this book is tight and well put together.
This is the first piece of Cecilia Tan's writing that I have read and I am eager to seek out more of her work now. I give this book two thumbs up though it's hard to hold the book open with your thumb extended and Tan's book is so hot it takes both hands to read it.
The sex is wonderful and hot and, of course, integral to the plot. I especially enjoyed the playful elements in Merin and Kobi's experimentation with each other as they try to fulfill vague fantasies without any cultural guidelines. They are the ultimate BDSM newbies.
As a science fiction story it works well. There are no clumsy explanations of customs and technologies; everything is tightly written and assumes and intelligent reader. There is a plot other than sex (a trade agreement with another planet) but the two subjects, that of an erotic novel and the sci-fi save the world story, mesh together seamlessly.
I would recommend this book as a wonderful introduction to the Circlet Press list. They mainly publish anthologies, but I hope that this novel is the start of a new trend.
Unfortunately, this most interesting question gets very little attention in "The Velderet," and here we see the book's real failing: its focus is on the sex, and the kink, and the effort to titillate the reader and satisfy a fetish for BDSM, rather than the more interesting questions that this sort of sex poses. The fact that this was originally a serial means that there is a sex scene in pretty much every chapter, whether the larger plot calls for it or not. Secondarily, the book tries to be an exciting story where BDSM saves the world from an aggressive alien race, but this too is made secondary.
The problem with "The Velderet" is that it is merely a sexual fantasy written down. The very real struggle of Kobi to come to terms with his sexual desires, for example, is minimized in favor of depictions of his sexual adventures in cyberspace. The dark sides of those desires, the dangers that make them dramatic, are largely absent. And the irony is that this makes the sex in "The Velderet" sterile, detracting from the drama that can make BDSM stories exciting and titillating in the first place. Ironically, Tan has made her sex too safe here.
My only criticism is that I felt that the real story was with the couple and their awakenings, rather than with the aliens, and I didn't have much interest in the latter, they seemed to be a little too cliche, and also too much of a deux ex machina.
I found myself wishing that the author had skipped the whole thing about the aliens, and just followed the partners, and others they met, as they created an underground culture and attempted to liberate both each other and their their society.