Potiphee, Petey and Me; The Last of Tom Reamy
by Jeff Baker
The final story by the late fantasy master Tom Reamy has been published. It is everything a reader could hope for. “Potiphee, Petey and Me” was written for the final volume of Harlan Ellison’s cutting edge anthology series that began in the 60s with “Dangerous Visions.” But this volume “The Last Dangerous Visions” has never been published, despite several promised release dates (including September 2024.) Now Reamy’s final story has been published in a retrospective collection and it is indeed a dangerous vision.
The collection “Under The Hollywood Sign; the Collected Stories Of Tom Reamy” from Subterranean Press, collects all the stories in his earlier, posthumous collection “San Diego Lightfoot Sue” as well as a screenplay, a story that was published after Reamy’s death and not included in the first collection as well as “Potiphee, Petey and Me.”
I’ve written before about Tom Reamy for this column. https://www.queerscifi.com/jeff-baker-boogieman-in-lavender-reading-tom-reamy/ About his short career as a writer of Dark Fantasy, about his populating his stories with frank talk about sex and openly Gay characters, about the ambiguity over whether he himself was Gay or not, and about his early death from a heart attack in 1977 at the young age of 42. This last story of his is masterful.
“Potiphee, Petey and Me” takes place in a future in a place that might be Earth, which is a dystopia where open sexual pleasure is the norm and couples needs are partly met by other men known as “Butterflies.” Our trio is essentially a thruple, decades before the word would come into use. However, they have a secret which could put their futures in danger.
Dialogue is crisp and sometimes unexpectedly funny, the bizarre setting is evocatively drawn, the action is gripping and the characters are compelling. Reamy’s skill lets the reader feel for the main trio and care about their plight.
And I had to keep reminding myself that this story was written over 45 years ago, when it would have been considered edgy and daring. Today, it would be considered the same, even as it found a ready home in one of the LGBT-themed anthologies of speculative fiction that are becoming more numerous every year.
Again, “Potiphee, Petey and Me” is everything a reader could hope for, and it speaks of how Tom Reamy was only getting better when we lost him.
Here’s a link to Subterranean Press: https://subterraneanpress.com/under-the-hollywood-sign-ebook/
Jeff Baker’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the online ‘zine “RoMMantic Reads” https://rommanticreads.wordpress.com/ and the Amazing Stories site. He has a story in the new QSF anthology “Rise.” He blogs about reading and writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror around the thirteenth of each month in this same space. He spent much of the early 90s scouring libraries and bookstores for Tom Reamy’s stories and books. Jeff regularly posts fiction on his blog https://authorjeffbaker.com/ and wastes time on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=679510827 and Mastodon (as “Mike Mayak.”) https://mastodon.otherworldsink.com/@MikeMayak