Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance
About The Book
Carter Evans is founder and editor-in-chief of Astounding!—a formerly popular spec fiction magazine currently in its death throes. Not only can he do nothing to save it, but stuck in a rathole apartment with few interpersonal connections, he can’t seem to do much to rescue his future either. And certainly all the booze isn’t helping. He snaps when he receives yet another terrible story submission from the mysterious writer J. Harper—and in a drunken haze, Carter sends Harper a rejection letter he soon regrets.
J. Harper turns out to be John Harper, a sweet man who resembles a ’50s movie star and claims to be an extraterrestrial. Despite John’s delusions, Carter’s apology quickly turns into something more as the two lonely men find a powerful connection. Inexplicably drawn to John, Carter invites him along on a road trip. But as they travel, Carter is in for some big surprises, some major heartbreak… and just maybe the promise of a good future after all.
After spending the last few reads in decidedly heterosexual SFF territory, it was good to return to queer sci fi in the form of Astounding!, a gay romsnce between a down-on-his-luck pulp sci-fi magazine editor and an alien who looks a lot like Tab Hunter in his prime.
The eponymous magazine is named Astounding!, and was the brsinchild of editor Carter and his now-ex Freddy fifteen years earlier, when both were young and idealistic
Freddy is a big-time author with a Netflix deal (think George RR Martin but with less ego and gay) who lives with his new partner Keith in a big oceanfront house Southern California.
Freddy still takes care of Carter, who lives in an old run-diwn apartment snd is feeling his age (and his gut) at forty. Carter is in s rut, and with the impending demise of Astounding!, he has nowhere to go.
Carter us also bedeviled by would-be author J. Harper, who is one of the most atrocious authors Carter has ever had the displeasure to have cross his deck. In a drunken fit, he writes back to the mysterious author and tells him that he should no longer write anything – not even a text message. Waking up with a hangover the next day, he realizes what he’s dibe, and sets off from Seattle to Portland where J. Harper lives, hoping to set things right. He meets the author – John – and the encoubter sets off a series of events that will change Carter and his life forever.
There’s a very friendly, conversationsl quality to Fielding’s writibg here that draws you in. Carter is angsty, but not oh-my-God-I-Don’t-want-to-be-in-the-same-room-with-him angsty. He’s a geeky gay everyman, and it’s refreshing that three of the characters are not model-beautiful.
Then there’s John. He’s gorgeous and tastes like all things good and wonderful. Over the top wonderful, but there are reasons.
Astounding! is a fun romp through the sci-fi magazine world, a sweet romance that asks the question “what if my boyfriend was an alien?” and answers it with comedy, beauty and love.
This is a romance, so it’s not surprising that there are some sex scenes here. They are specific but not particularly graphic, and not overly long.
And there are moments of beauty and tenderness, as well as a heartwarming friendship between two men who were once lovers.
Its only flaw might just be too many pancakes. But you’ll have to read it to find out what I mean.
If you want a fun, sweet and endearing read, pick up a copy of Astounding! You won’t be disappointed.
Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.