After The Party

In the same issue of LOCUS that reviewed Babylon Nick Gevers lists After The Party as a ‘recommended story’ and writes: ‘Interzone has been serializing Richard Calder's controversial novella After the Party: A Nymphomaniad, starting in the December issue and concluding in that for April. A companion to the author's imminent novel Babylon, this can be seen as a culmination of Calder's long fascination with issues of eroticism: the association of orgasm with death; the fetishization of the sexual Other as Object; decadence and the politics of “perversion”. The setting is an alternate Earth of the late 19th or early 20th century, where female worshippers of Ishtar, long exiled to a parallel world, have returned, changing history by toppling patriarchy and installing a new global order dominated by Orders of sacred prostitutes and the male Illuminati who relish the attendant fleshly circus. The problem for women in this timeline is that although they have in a sense liberated themselves from bondage, forcing men to concede their equality and their power, they have also had to reify themselves in the image of masculine desire, becoming stereotypical maenads or dolls in consequence; nymphomania has become a plague, often of a literal and lethal kind. And males who resent the dictatorship of sensuality, in effect the ideological brothers of Jack the Ripper, have formed a dissident Black Order, dedicated to the destruction of all whores. What occurs in After the Party is the tentative, only vaguely successful reconciliation of the conflicting opposites, as a doctor belonging to the Order encounters a prostitute who draws him platonically as well as physically; the fatal psychological contradictions of the late Victorian Age come into sharp focus, and Calder achieves a powerful bleak finale.’


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