Rating: 3.5 stars
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In the future, skin to skin contact is forbidden. People wear full body suits and gloves to insure that no bodily contact will be made with another human being. Everything has been sanitized and all unions between man and woman are for procreation only with the matches made by the Government. Human sexual release is prescribed medically and people are given appointments bi monthly at Sim Centers where electrodes are attached at erogenous zones for use in virtual reality sex scenes. Everyone is microchipped and everything they do is monitored, all by order of the Government.
Keith Borden is a sim tech and has been for years. And in all that time, Keith has never questioned the Government’s actions nor his profession. Keith has just accepted his isolation and his part in supporting its continuation as being for the good of all. Then Aiden Maxwell becomes his patient and Keith’s world starts to change. Aiden is gorgeous and flirtatious. And Aiden requests that his sim partner look exactly like Keith. All too soon Keith’s own sims are not enough to satisfy him.
Keith has known about the perverted and depraved people who break the law and have skin to skin contact, but never thought he would be one of them. Aiden breaks down his barriers and takes Keith to a wireless lounge where people gather naked to have contact with each other and unprotected sex.
Keith is hooked. His world is shattered from the moment he experiences the sensual pleasures of skin to skin contact and sex with another human being, especially if that person is Aiden. But the government is cracking down on the wireless lounges and breaking the law means much more than just jail time. Keith could lose everything, including his life. What will Keith risk not only to keep having human contact, but to have Aiden in his life?
There is much to love about Wireless, starting with the plot of the book. Just imagining a world where human contact is outlawed is chilling. No loving touches, no sympathetic embraces or hugs when you need them the most. No more gentle kisses on the cheek or lips, all those gestures that connect us to others and telegraph so much emotion without saying a word. All gone by government order. I think most people are not even aware of how much touch is used daily to convey thoughts, needs, and direction. So using the loss of that sense and personal isolation as a focus is a great idea. And Witt does a terrific job in conveying the ramifications of such a policy on society in her story.
Character Keith Borden is our “everyman” at the beginning of Wireless. He is unquestioning and complacent about his lifestyle and government proscribed sexless sex life. When he and the other sim techs gather to discuss current happenings, all (well mostly all) look askance at those who would risk everything for sex in the wireless lounges. They even agree when one tech says that those caught in raids should “have their balls cut off,” calling them degenerates. Then Witt brings in Aiden Maxwell to upset Keith’s bland life. Here is a look at their encounter:
There were thirty million people in San Angeles, fully half of them in the quadrant where I lived. I’d seen so many of these suits on so many bodies, they were as novel as pollution and pavement.
But the way Aiden’s suit fit him did things to me I couldn’t explain. It was like the damn thing was made to accentuate his narrow hips or the fact that he had shoulders that wouldn’t quit.
Walking down the hall from the waiting area to Sim Room 8, it was all I could do not to sneak a few glances. It should have been a crime for a man to look this good. Especially since it practically was a crime for me to have the fantasies I’d had about him in and out of that suit. Living out those fantasies? A felony. Not worth entertaining even within the confines of my mind, but sometimes I just couldn’t help myself.
The skintight suit wasn’t the worst part. He was here for a sim session, which meant— just as it did for the hundreds of people who came through this simhouse without making me bat an eye— the suit was coming off. So were the boots, the gloves— everything. Every layer peeled away, revealing the exquisitely defined arms and shoulders that a decade of heavy construction work had chiseled to perfection.
It was all coming off, and since he always asked for me, I was the one who got to put the electrodes on him. On his neck. The insides of his elbows. His flat, flawless abs. Not to mention the equipment that went over his penis and testicles to provide the stimulation that would ultimately bring him to orgasm.
Good thing no one on staff had ever noticed— or questioned— that I always booked my own sim sessions for immediately after Aiden’s.
Forbidden thoughts have already entered Keith’s mind and Aiden is going to stir them up even more. I liked both their characters. Of the two, Keith is the most accessible simply because the story is told from his POV. Aiden is more of a question mark because we don’t know anything about him. Aiden is the siren calling Keith to him and the pleasures he offers are dangerous indeed.
The sensuality and desperate nature of the wireless lounges come across as vividly due to Witt’s descriptions. You can almost feel Keith being overwhelmed by the intoxication of it all, so much skin, the smell, the sounds, truly sensory overload.
A crystalline bead of sweat slid from his temple and into the side of my hand, the coolness of the liquid contrasting sharply with the heat of his flesh. My mouth watered, and I wanted to know what his tasted like. I wanted to know what his skin tasted like. No, that would be going too far. If I kissed him, then we’d…
My gaze drifted to the others in the room. To the people undulating together, bodies pressed so close it was impossible to tell where some ended and others began. People danced. Kissed. Touched. Fucked. All out in the open, all with a kind of feverish abandon I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. One kiss, I was certain, and I’d understand that abandon. I’d embrace it and lose myself in it just like everyone else here.
It’s all there for us to see and understand, the need that deprivation has caused and how quickly Keith finds he needs the contact in order to live. Witt makes Keith and Aiden intimate companions with the reader along for the ride and we love it.
So why not give Wireless a higher rating? That would be due to the confused, incomplete world building. The beginning of Wireless opens with the words “Several decades from now…” but later on in the story it talks about it being 200 years in the future. There are more inconsistencies further along as to the timeline. Why the world would have fallen into such a state in a few decades is never explained. Plus this time frame is not feasible for the type of government and mechanical structures to have been created. The reader is given a sentence or two about over population and disease, but nothing about governments falling or the rise of new ruling institutions, all of which take time. And this lack of back history or solid reasonable foundation makes the story almost exist inside a bubble. It just floats along without being anchored to a world we can make sense of. As the story itself states, that isolation is not only burdensome but unhealthy for the plot.
I am not a fan of this ending either. Too much is left unsaid or unexplained, definitely an incomplete HFN. I don’t mind HFN endings, but this one left me with far too many questions about their future than could be answered by the story. Sigh.
I liked enough about Wireless to recommend it with reservations and definitely recommend other books by L.A. Witt, a very talented author.
Cover artist Valerie Tibbs does a great job with this dramatic cover.