Extraordinary Deviations is a collection of short stories featuring transgendered characters. The first several stories seem to have been written by someone who heavily fetishizes transgendered people while simultaneously loathing them, which made it uncomfortable going in the beginning. Thankfully, that tone seemed to change in later stories.
Honestly, I almost set aside the collection during the first story, “Only Fate,” due to the rampant misogyny. Only by reminding myself frequently that it was the character, not the writer, speaking, was I able to wade through the bitterness. Unfortunately, “Lover of the Whore of Babylon” was pretty much along the same lines. A collection is in trouble when the first two stories inspire long, deep sighs and glances at a watch, but then lo! A miracle occurred. The third story, “Opening,” was actually interesting. Good world development and well-drawn characters. “Gallae” was about being obsessed with transgendered folks as sexual objects, which is problematic, and the story wasn’t that interesting, but at least by then I wasn’t dreading the next story as I had been after the first two.
“Thief of Dreams” had an excellent premise if you’re not too picky about consent, invasion of privacy, and things like that. A hacker taps into interactive porn and participates. The other person thinks it’s simply a program while he pushes them to fulfill his fantasies. Then someone with revenge in mind tracks him down and hacks into his feed. He can’t escape. He isn’t sure he wants to. I give this story a huge recommendation if you like edgy.
I also have to give recognition to the story “Jack-A-Roe” for recognizing that some sexual fantasies are simply too much for some people. A woman is bequeathed a mask and other items from her aunt that she uses as part of a costume. The spirit in the mask leads her into a rather wild time that overwhelms and scares her, so she puts it aside. Respecting your personal limits is just as important a message in sex-positive stories as the “try it, you’ll like it” spin.
If you’re into the fey and other woodland supernaturals, “One Hundred and Twenty-Two Petals” might be a tale for you. Not my thing, but by now I was just grateful that the creepy fetishizing established at the opening of the collection had simmered down into decent storytelling, so I have no complaints about this one.
In “Bridge Over Shifters Chasm,” beta mutants in an alpha superheroes world find each other. This is one of the stronger stories in the collection, and a good way to close it out.