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What on Infinite Earths is: Sunstone?

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on April 18, 2016

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There has been quite a bit of fuss about a little trilogy of books called Fifty Shades of Grey. A Twilight fanfiction dressed up in the clothes of a romance novel and a gimp mask that sold in the millions to repressed housewives around the world who took the rescued princess fantasy to heart and started demanding that their husbands paddle them when they don't do the dishes. Some of this is a slight exaggeration. But not much.

Fifty Shades of Grey brought BDSM into the public consciousness and normally sexual liberation is considered to be a wonderful thing but unfortunately, Fifty Shades did not portray a healthy Dominant and Submissive relationship. Most of the interactions between the partners were coercive, others were outright rape and at no point was safety a consideration for any of the participants. Basically, if Christian Grey was involved in the thriving BDSM community he would be present only on a blacklist with his name and picture circled several times in red ink with the word “PSYCHO” and seven exclamation marks scribbled somewhere nearby.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the worst introduction to the world of BDSM that you could ask for and I would not be even slightly surprised if there are people in the hospital today suffering from permanent injuries as a result of trying to duplicate some of the “romantic” scenes from the books. Of course it is a fantasy, it is all about being entertaining, it doesn't need to take reality into account. Real BDSM relationships couldn't be interesting fodder for a story could they?

Sunstone is an accurate, explicit and often fascinating look at how real Dominant and Submissive relationships work. Yes, people get tied up and spanked. Yes there is a great deal of sexy shenanigans going on. But it is all within the context of the real community that exists and more importantly it has a romance that you will actually care about. The ladies of Sunstone meet after years of flirting online only to find that the sexual relationship that they have always wanted comes attached to another person. A person that they find themselves falling for despite the complexity that their needs bring to any potential relationship.

In the periphery of this we get to experience the entire secret world of the BDSM community, from a friend of a friend who is just starting to be drawn in all the way up to a girl who once wanted to be a full time submissive but badly injured herself through inexperience with proper rope safety. The central romance is infuriating in the way that so many great romances are with you, the reader, constantly screaming from the sidelines for the characters to just admit that they love each other. The artwork is startlingly beautiful, fluctuating in style to suit the different needs of the story and even if any one element of the plot doesn't appeal to you, the whole of the thing will.

It should be required reading in sex education classes.

G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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