A LOVELY “TAIL”
I admit it took me a while to get into “All Roads Lead to Winter.” I was thrown, at first, by the dense, layered prose. It is, in fact, almost more like poetry than prose. However, as I continued along, the story slowly drew me in and captivated me. I became bewitched.
“All Roads Lead to Winter” gradually seduced me, like a patient lover. Which is appropriate, considering its sexy subject matter.
I suppose one could properly classify the work as erotic science fiction, but that doesn’t do it justice. It’s much more than that. “Erotic science fiction” brings to mind hackneyed stories of gleaming sex robots and amateur “Bigfoot & the Bikini Babe” erotic fiction. This is nothing of the sort. It’s a story about loneliness, love, lust, and loss. About both connection and disconnection. Passion and regret. Though, plot-wise, very little actually “happens” in the traditional sense (conversation, a meal, a memory, conversation, sex, another memory, more conversation), it still manages to hypnotize and enthrall.
Lest you think I’m saying this is a stodgy, dry literary exercise: the centerpiece of the story is a wonderfully written, explicit sex scene between a human male and a cat-like alien female. The fur flies. (Okay, the fur doesn’t literally fly, but you get my point. There are claws, whiskers, and purring involved.) The erotica is masterfully handled, as is the rest of the tale.
The character of Avdryana, that feline-like alien woman, is wonderfully drawn. Smart, sensual, and a bit scary. Like Thomas Bridge (our P.O.V. character) we can’t help but be captivated and charmed by her. Dialogue between the two of them is fun, real, and sharp (one suspects Dillon would do well writing screenplays), the story is peppered with cool details (the cat-lady puts a finger to her lipless mouth to speak words with plosives), and the science-fictional and political concepts at the foundation of the tale are quite thought provoking (I won’t spoil them for you by giving them away ahead of time).
I found myself wanting “All Roads Lead to Winter” to be a full novel, not just a brief novella. I wanted to live a while longer in the vivid, clearly rendered, haunting world Dillon has created. I wanted to see more of the incredibly sexy Avdryana (and her lovely tail), find out what else happens to Thomas, and learn more about the mysterious Faces of Dusk and Dawn.
This is a good sign. I think it was P.T. Barnum who said, “Leave them wanting more.” Mark Fuller Dillon has done just that.
Read it. You won’t be sorry.
(review of free book)