There are some books aimed at such a specific audience (though in this case quite a wide-spread one) that a warning may be in order. With Christopher Pierce’s Winner Takes All: Master/Slave Fantasies, pay attention to that subtitle, and to the small print at the top of the copyright page that says, “Winner Takes All is erotic fantasy not intended as a guide to real-life Master/slave relationships.”
At this point you’ll know whether the subject matter is up your alley, so to speak. If you want gay male Dominant/submissive scenarios populated by impossibly macho studs (and beautiful slaveboys) who could have stepped right out of the art of Tom of Finland, this is where you’ll find them. If your reading experience is enhanced by being told the height, weight, and general build of each character, as well as more personal measurements and details, you won’t be disappointed. And if you prefer your erotic literature to be gritty, visceral, over-the-top, and well-written as well, you won’t be disappointed on that score either.
The sixteen short stories here, and the first parts of the concluding novella, were all published previously in magazines that specialized in gay Master/slave porn, which is not to say that Pierce’s work is “merely” porn. An Editor’s Note here calls the writing “Value-Added Porn,” and “porn-plus,” both terms I rather like. He also tells us that the original stories were extensively revised to “take them up to the next level” for this collection.
I won’t speculate on which parts are enhancements, although my guess is that the emotional and psychological aspects of submission get more emphasis here. They don’t interrupt, or dilute the constant action, or take the reader as deeply into “sub-space” as they might, but most of the submissive characters get turned on by feeling that their only purpose is to give their Masters pleasure, that they themselves don’t matter at all, and that’s the way they want it. Hard as that mind-set may be to understand by those of us who don’t share it, some people I know well have described their feelings in just that way.
Pierce clearly knows just what he’s doing here, and just what readers he’s doing it for. Considering the tightly focused theme, the stories vary enough to keep up interest, and the author’s remarkable range of “dirty” words enables him to reel off strings of descriptive names for body parts and bodily fluids without seeming repetitious. The first-person submissive characters are not differentiated as much as the dominant men seen through their eyes, but for this kind of fiction that may be the norm, so that the reader can put himself more deeply into the scene. The sex and “punishment” are, of course, over-the-top, just what the reader needs to get the thrills without the actual bruises. It’s all fantasy to one degree or another, and in a few cases it’s fantasy-fantasy, like the faux-medieval setting of “The Executioner’s Boy” in which rape fantasies can be indulged with impunity. Actually, the term “rape” is used rather casually and loosely from time to time, which bothered me a bit, but it’s always from the viewpoint of a very willing “victim,” so I can accept it as just a trope of the wider “scene” mentality.
The final piece, a five-part novella that gives the collection its title of Winner Takes All, does, I think, achieve “the next level,” as the editor put it. The last two parts were written expressly for this book, and I assume the first three were re-written to make a convincing whole—convincing, at least, if you’ve already suspended any disbelief as to the physical improbabilities of most of the action. The length allows for even more sex and punishment, making room for both the expected moves and more inventive measures, while the relationship is developed on a slightly deeper level, and the point-of-view character is allowed to step outside his role-playing and see himself as a real person. In jerk-off fiction slaves have no rights, no opinions, no decision-making power, and no feelings, he muses, as he comes to terms with what he really wants.
M. Christian, whose opinion I respect, wrote the foreword for this book, worth reading in itself for his discussion of the erotic potential of power exchange, which is really at the core of the whole Master/slave dynamic. Christopher Pierce fleshes out the concept with no-holds-barred jerk-off fiction unashamed of its origins, and unashamed to be written with literary skill and style. If this is the sort of erotica/porn/porn-plus you’re looking for, you’ve found it here (and you know you’re not alone.) If it isn’t your cup of sweat and semen, well, you’ve been warned.