I went into Revolt of the Naked in the wrong frame of mind. I am a big science fiction fan, but came late to the party, and haven’t done much back-tracking. It was only a couple of years ago, for example, that I read Ringworld. Ringworld has a kind of “out-of-date” charm to it. As did I, Robot. No one would swear by saying “Sizzling Saturn!” for example. I flinched a few times reading those, and then got past it to the stories at the core – which I enjoyed.
This was, more or less, my experience with Revolt. At first, something about the writing rubbed me the wrong way – but it took me a little while to realize what I was reading. This is – and I hope I’m not doing a disservice to the author here by saying so – set up to read like one of the golden age of science fiction stories. Rockets, and pod-like plants; plastics mentioned as some sort of uber-amazing material; all manner of science fiction tropes that you’ve not really seen since Flash Gordon hung up his golden shorts.
My resistance faded at the same time I had that realization. Read in this way – as a kind of homage – the book has real charm. I was waiting for someone to ride in on sky chariots with “laser guns” or something, and it started to be quite fun.
The crux of Revolt of the Naked is – unsurprisingly – a tale about an upcoming revolution, the revolution itself, and then some of what happens after. The planet Talanta is the furthest colony from Earth that was colonized, and maybe the only one to survive the plague that hit and wiped out almost everyone (and did cause the death of all the women). What were men to do but turn to genetic engineering of naked male slaves to do all the work while they drank, played, and had sex? There’s some interesting cultural shades to the tale – in the city above the jungle, men don’t allow themselves to be topped (that’s for the man-whores and the nakeds – who are slaves bound with the inability to disagree with any command given to them by their owner). In the city, men are basically rutting all the time and trying to trick each other into bottoming – which is the highest form of social ruin once this happens to someone – and then moving on after the conquest to the next. Down in the jungle, where the Jungle Men (no, seriously) draw the healing waters up to the city, they’ve got a more, uh, versatile outlook, and look up pityingly at the city folk with their naked slaves and hang-ups about anal pleasures.
I mean seriously. You’d think the future would have gotten over it by now, eh?
But! The revelations start to come – along with social upheaval – once the Jungle Men learn just where the Nakeds come from, and then the untimely arrival of a natural disaster does the unthinkable: the Nakeds are freed from their control, and then there’s the titular revolt, and everything starts to change. But will it be too late for Talanta? Have they lost the ability to clone more of themselves and make future generations? Is this the end of (incredibly hung) man as we know it?
(And I’ll just add here, without ruining it, that the solution to this particular problem was stunningly retro sci-fi and worthy of a genuine amusement – and I don’t mean that in a bad way.)
The story is linear, and more or less predictable, but that’s not a criticism. Again, if you’re reading in that “golden age” frame of mind, you’ll enjoy that. And this being an erotica review site, I should also say that every single man in this book is described as better than most burly fellas you’ve ever seen in real life. Not to mention hornier.
Part of this stems from the – of course – genetic engineering done on mankind to idealize him (which, for the record, means increasing both ball size and how low said balls hang, as well as general length and girth of said fella’s “meat.” Also included is a generally ramped up sex drive, with the ability to have six or seven orgasms every other moment). Everyone is muscular, everyone is sexy, everyone is ready to stop and get off. Compliments about each other’s body and “meat” (one of my only real complaints with the story is how often “meat” is used as the synonym of choice) abound. They’re also fashion-confused, since they’re constantly bulging out and/or showing skin despite putting on those tiny little loin-cloths. Fun-fact: man parts grow when aroused, next time, try lycra! I joke, but it’s another recurring theme to the tale – only the Nakeds wear nothing on hot Talanta, but Talanta is hot, so everyone else just wears sandals and loin-cloths. Specifically, loin-clothes that are designed to fail. It’s hilarious – again, in a good way.
Sex is explosive and sticky – and constant – and there are enough iterations and combinations that I think the author managed to hit pretty much every position, activity, and/or set-up in the 200 pages Sadero had to work with. Similarly, the descriptions and emotionality of the characters are also seen through that “golden age” lens: the epiphanies come quickly (as do the orgasms) and though the character progression can feel simplified because of this, it doesn’t feel out of place.
There’s a couple of dom characters, a submissive “but I like getting fucked a whole lot!” aw-shucks character, more than a few orgy moments, hairy guys, smooth guys, despicable bully/rapist guys, man-whores with hearts of gold, and loving guys with shady secrets. And they all have sex with each other, pretty much all the time. Characters come and go throughout the plot in a way that can sometimes jar – “Wait, what happened to so-n-so? And who’s this guy?” – but if you read the tale as a tale about Talanta, rather than any particular people on the planet, it works to that end.
Revolt of the Naked is a curiosity. If you read it expecting today’s standard of Science Fiction, you’ll be let down. I nearly was – I had to stop, reset my mind frame, and start again. I’m still waffling over whether or not that meant I should nudge my rating to two-hands sideways, but I don’t think I will. If you enter Revolt of the Naked with a “Sizzling Saturn!” ready on the tip of your tongue and a willingness to enjoy it as a pulp sci-fi, I think you’re going to have a good time. It’s campy. It’s fun. It’s dripping with sweat and “juice” (which comes from the “meat”) and dialog that you always wanted Flash Gordon to say.
Especially in a loin-cloth.