QSFer Aleksandr Voinov has a new dystopian queer sci fi book out: “Mean Machine.”
For a boxer ravaged by guilt and in deep denial of his desires, a fight beyond the ring might yield his greatest prize.
In a dystopian UK devastated by austerity and ruled by corporate interests, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London police officer—until an accident resulted in the death of a protester connected to a powerful family. Now he takes out his anger and pain on his opponents, fighting for the company that took him into stewardship after his conviction and disgrace—and which all but owns him.
Wealthy barrister Nathaniel Bishop fulfills his dream of a family when he adopts a daughter. He can’t resist researching her allegedly violent criminal father, but Brook isn’t at all what he expects. He’s fascinating… and maybe worthy of redemption. Through legal sleight of hand, Nathaniel thinks he can overturn Brook’s conviction.
Brook has learned the hard way not to trust anyone, let alone a privileged man who’s purchased his “time.” But as they get to know each other, he allows himself to hope.
With his fights getting deadlier, hope might be the only thing to carry Brook through.
THE ENEMY was swaying on his feet, but Brooklyn kept pushing him into a corner. Eight rounds in, he was tired and yet buzzing, high on adrenaline and sheer uncontrollable rage. He threw low punches into the other boxer’s sides, felt the solid resistance like a wall he wanted to tear down with his bare hands.
Under the onslaught, the other man squirmed, rounded his back, and stumbled away, but there were only the ropes, and beyond them, the baying mob.
Brooklyn kept swinging, connecting, and then noticed the enemy had lowered his guard to protect his torso. He took a half step back and delivered a straight punch with the right and a cross with the left. As if in slow motion, the power from that hit threw the opponent’s head to the side. His yellow gumshield flashed, and the man went down as if struck by lightning.
No, not yet.
Before anybody could interfere, Brooklyn caught him by the throat, pushed him up against the ropes, and kept pummelling him. His rage knew no bounds, roaring in his veins, turning exhaustion to ashes, drowning out the shouts from the mob.
The other boxer’s arms flopped wide, grasping towards the ropes, and for a moment, he was spread open in a T. Unguarded, unprotected, throat bared, head rolling back. Unconscious, dead, or simply knocked out, that strange stage when every ounce of strength and endurance had been beaten from the body, leaving only leaden indifference—or readiness to die.
And it was a mercy to be killed on his feet, in the ring.
Brooklyn felt a hand on his left arm, and he snarled around the plastic in his mouth, freed himself with a shrug. The first few rows in the audience were on their feet. Jeering, applauding, or shouting, he didn’t notice the difference through the haze as he strained to finish the man off, there on the ropes, ready to go.
Ready for redemption.
Suddenly three more men appeared in the ring, invading the space he’d owned a moment ago. One pushed between him and the enemy, who crumpled in the corner, ignored, while the three men circled Brooklyn, tonfa sticks ready.
Brooklyn could take one, but not three. Fuck. Now he was the one still on his feet, and the impulse to lift his hands and lash out very nearly overwhelmed him. Fuck them for challenging him in the ring. He took grim satisfaction from how the eyes of the ISU guards widened. They knew.
His ring. His space. His fucking time.
The end of a tonfa tapped him lightly on the knee, hard enough to hurt but not enough to send him sprawling. We could have, that said. Give up.
Brooklyn cast another glance at the enemy. Done. Over. He looked at the guards, knew the other two would be on him if he attacked their comrade. He turned, his gaze sharpening. Applause. Light sparked off diamonds and teeth, expensive women jeering at him, their companions grinning with red faces. A minuscule dog was yipping at the end of its pink leash. Applause.
How would it look if the guards beat him to a pulp?
Not good. He raised his fists high over his head, taking the applause while the guards stepped smartly back. Not their crowd, and the bitches knew it. He almost laughed.
He hadn’t come so close to laughter in months. It didn’t matter what scum was cheering him, but it mattered that all of them saw him.
Applauding him might be an indulgence—might be, in truth, nothing but scorn—but right now, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t one of them. He’d bet the women in the audience wanted him rather than the suit-and-tie-wearing sugar daddies they’d come with. And he knew the men all wanted to be him, even if they were pimps and CEOs and MPs and two-bit VIPs from Big Brother. Right now, they were off their fat arses and applauding him.
Fuck them all.
EPIC Award winner and Lambda Award finalist Aleksandr Voinov is an expat German living near London, where he works as an editor in financial services. His genres range from science fiction and fantasy to thriller, historical, contemporary, and erotica.
If he isn’t writing, he studies world history, mythology, and astrology, or teaches writing or the Tarot. Sometimes he also makes candles. He’s a certified Master Hypnotist and NLP Coach, and loves Buddhism, though he needs to meditate more often. He is a pagan and member of the venerable Society of Authors.
Visit Aleksandr’s website, his blog, follow him on Twitter, where he tweets at ungodly hours (UKtime), and/or subscribe to his newsletter.