This is the first of what, I hope, will be many reader guest posts.
One of my GR friends pointed out that I was mostly reading free fiction these days and asked how I was liking it. My answer: Wow! I’ve found so much good stuff out here.
A lot of people know that the genre of m/m, or gay romance if you prefer, grew out of slash fiction, itself an offspring of fan fiction. It probably all started with a few people picking up the homoerotic vibe between Kirk and Spock in the original Star Trek and thinking, “Hmmmm. I could do something with that.” It is an area of fiction that is dominated by amateurs writing for the love of the sport, pushing the boundaries, playing a lot of “what if”.
Me, I came to this from the other direction. I found m/m and from m/m I worked my way backwards into the world of slash fic and fan fic. I have read a lot of really good published work. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. There aren’t even that many degrees of separation between the two. In fact, many popular m/m titles started life as slash or as fanfic: Zero at the Bone, Shades of Gray, Andrea Speed’s “Infected” series to name a few. But when people ask “What are your favorite m/m books?” my unthinking response looks like this: Captive Prince, In the Company of Shadows, The Administration, Special Forces, Teahouse, etc. Then, after a little thinking I add “Oh yeah, Collision Course, Adrien English, the Cut & Run series, Shattered Glass…” What is it that makes the good slash stickier than any of the published books I’ve read?
I don’t know. I suspect it’s because the rule book got tossed out and people who write slash are encouraged to be creative, to explore in ways that traditional publishing with its need to make sales can’t afford to do. They aren’t constrained by formula, by word count, or by subject matter and that freedom produces tons of pure garbage and a few shining gems that are just awesomeness. It’s like wine. Most of the grape juice used for wine in the US is blended into a lake of consistent flavor and then turned out as fairly good quality table wine. Not outstanding, but pretty good. In France, many vintners still grow and process their wine strictly from their own grapes, creating lots of bad wine in off years, but some really outstanding stuff at the top end. Publishing homogenizes m/m in the same way the US does wine, producing adequate consumable fiction, but rarely anything really bad or really great. Slash on the other hand is mostly unreadable, so you need a plan to filter out the good stuff. If you can do that you can get concentrated hits of goodness: fresh, unique, amazingly well written.
So this is all very nice, you may say, but where can I find this good stuff of which you speak? Start here:
The Slash Pile on Livejournal (this will take a little more effort to wade through)