WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Gay Influence: “Blue Light, a psychological mind-bender, has become an S/M classic. Every gay man should acquaint himself with this 35-page tale of erotic seduction fantasy; trust me, this story will remain in your head for days and weeks…the equal of an Edgar Allan Poe horror story.
David Savran, Taking It Like a Man (Princeton University Press): Blue Light has it all. A virtual master text of masochistic narrative, it insistently works, like the S/M scene, to prolong and thereby to intensify the pleasure of at least this reader who—playing bottom to Aaron Travis’ top—both desires and fears the story’s end.
Curious Affairs of Athelton Bartelby: “I stumbled across Aaron Travis' Blue Light: a paranormal, nearly epic erotic tale of submission, domination, and sexual witchcraft. I was breathless nearly the entire way through it, as the story built, as the psychologies of its main characters became more clearly defined and pulled me into them, and, of course, as the epic evening of sex unfolded in a Texas attic between two muscular doms, as one forces the other to submit to him with a variety of...arguably quite disturbing tricks. It was, and is, precisely what I think good erotica is, i.e., a story that not only makes its readers turned on, want to masturbate, and come, but, through its evocative use of language and seductive creation of fantasy, of pushing that fantasy to its very limits, that's what good erotica is.”
Susie Bright, in her introduction to THE BEST OF BEST AMERICAN EROTICA 2008, calls Blue Light “perhaps the most fantastic supernatural erotic thriller ever written…I couldn’t go to sleep from reading it, and then I couldn’t rest until I published it!”
Marcy Sheiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian: “Blue Light is a story I will remember for the rest of my life: it glues the impossible and the plausible together through the invocation of intense sexual energy.”
Michael Bronski, The Guide (Boston): “In Blue Light—a story which has become a classic—Travis creates a contemporary supernatural masterpiece as frightening as anything H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King ever wrote. The underlying horror of the story is not what happens to the narrator…but our own fears of losing control of our sexuality.”
vanillaimpaired.com: “Blue Light had me in a frenzied reading state, I just couldn’t get enough of it. It made Edgar Allan Poe look tame. A sexually charged supernatual thriller…it sated my dark mind.”
Susie Bright, Salon: In BEST AMERICAN EROTICA 1996, I included a little reader survey...The top vote-getter was a story by Aaron Travis called The Hit…The Hit isnt just a hot episode, its a crime story [that] owes as much to films like THE UNTOUCHABLES and the unsparing viciousness of Martin Scorceses movies as it does to THE STORY OF O...By the time I panted my way to the last page of Mr. Bigs blowout, my heart was pounding, and it wasnt because Id had an orgasm. I felt aroused though, in a weird mix of sex, fright and amazement. Damn, what a good yarn! (from the 9/97 edition of Salon.)
Adam Begley, New York Observer: The Hit punishes the reader with an itemized account of sadomasochism at work. The sadist is Vince, a well-hung mafia hit man...The masochist is Kip, a buff 19-year-old hotel waiter. Vince brutalizes Kip and Kip loves it, even when the pain and terror and humiliation seem about to swallow him whole. Mr. Travis may have no higher ambition than to assist a vigorous S&M stroke, but his detached tone and his refusal to explain or justify his characters behavior is most refreshing -- if we dare call a long night of sexual torture refreshing.
Killian Melloy, EDGEBoston on SLAVES OF THE EMPIRE: “A dangerous, seductive that takes place at the crossroads of erotic fantasy and political thriller. Travis arrays his charactersgladiators, slaves, Roman senators in artful configurations, and then allows them to venture into charged sexual territory, taking the reader along for a journey that is sometimes unsettling, sometimes rapturous, and always gripping.”
Ed Sikov on SLAVES OF THE EMPIRE: “A hot, tense novel that pumps ancient Rome for all it’s worth rival gladiators and their magnificent spears, compliant eunuchs and their cleansing tongues, twin Germanic slave-princes and their sweet, abused nipples: Depravity, depravity, depravity! With an artist's eye for detail and a historian's knack for accuracy, Aaron Travis had his way with me from the first sweaty page to the heart-stopping twist at the end. He's a real master in the best, most dominating sense of the word.”
Michael Bronski: “Since its original, serialized publication in Drummer magazine more than twenty years ago, Aaron Travis’s SLAVES OF THE EMPIRE has gained near-mythological status in gay male erotica...smart, psychologically astute, and beautifully written. With the dangerous leanness of a James M. Cain noir crossed with the cathartic violence of a Japanese horror film, Aaron Travis taunts and goads us to places we long to go, but are afraid on imagining on our own...Has all of the trappings of your typical sword and sandal porn fantasy...but Travis brings this all to life with an energy, and an accumulation of salient psychic and emotional detail that stuns us...Literature that is compelling, provoking, and sexually exciting…A high point of gay male writing in the second half of the twentieth century.”
John F. Karr, Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco): “With hardly a pause, SLAVES OF THE EMPIRE torments us from sex scene to sex scene, each building higher than the one before, all satisfying, original, and leading surely to the hair-raising last chapter.”
...and other comments
cbtboyuk at gaybdsmfiction.blogspot.com: “I am frequently horrified by the things I find erotic. But that is precisely what fantasy is, is it not? Aaron Travis’ Kudzu is horrifying. In real life, it would be unthinkable…I’ve had to buy a number of copies though.”
John F. Karr, Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco): “Perhaps the best dick-stiffening author in the land is Aaron Travis…Travis’ lewd and sassy smut [in WRESTLING TALES] is startling in its combination of wit and satire with gut-level, crotch-popping porn. This is pro wrestling the way we always dreamt it—a half-lock is sure to produce a hard-on when Travis puts the men in the ring. Ripping off each other’s trunks, subjecting their conquered mates to unique brands of humiliation and throbbing penetration as the crowd cheers—these wrestlers go a good deal further than all the way. And what they do in the locker room is hair-raising! There’s rarely been porn as sexy and fun as this.”
Susie Bright (interviewed at Self Awareness): “When people ask me what great erotic literature is, I say: It's a matter of tasteand memory. But if you are looking for expert craft, you couldn’t go wrong with Henry Miller and his Land of F***; Pauline Réage’s Story of O; Steven Saylor writing as Aaron Travis...They take my breath away.”