I had the pleasure to receive an advance copy of Jonah Bergan’s new MM sci fi book Off World. The cover of the book is gorgeous – it immediately made me interested in reading the story. The image of the main character is mysterious and gorgeous, and the planetary background promises a lush sci fi adventure. The story doesn’t disappoint.
Let me say up front that the book does include some semi graphic sex with a dominance theme. But one of the things I loved about it was that the sex was both secondary and integral to the science fiction plot.
The story starts out on the backwater world where Taine, a handsome alien slaver who’s something like an emotional vampire, is buying himself a male slave. It takes place against the backdrop of a planetary invasion by the Witches – a cult of women hell-bent on the enslavement of all men. The Witches are eerily reminiscent of Dune’s Bene Gesserit – powerful, cunning and dangerous.
Taine plans to get off world as quickly as he can with his prize, who he names Sunshine. But he ends up getting saddled with an apprentice named Tanner too. Poor Tanner is conflicted. On the one hand, he feels that he must be loyal to his new boss. But on the other hand, he doesn’t like “flits” – the book’s slang for gays.
The other thing I really liked about this book is the fact that it doesn’t go where you expect it to. It takes several twists and turns that I won’t get into here because that would be giving too much away, but it had me riveted to find out what was going to happen next and how it was all going to end, especially in the second half.
The characters are very well drawn and complex, especially Taine. He’s strong but vulnerable, powerful but sometimes blinded by his own passions and desires.
I’m always looking for LGBT speculative fiction that goes beyond romance, and Off World certainly delivers – there’s a romantic subplot here, but like the sex, it serves the needs of the overarching sci fi plot.
I really enjoyed the story, and the teaser at the end that promises a sequel. I just hope that Jonah has the next one already in the works.
I’m not using a star rating system as I think that’s too arbitrary. Instead I’ll highly recommend this book. Bergan manages to fuse LGBT fiction and sci fi in a very effective and pleasing way, so what are you waiting for? Go buy this book. :)
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