Sometimes the only solution is to create the man that you need. Stitch is a collection of four stories detailing exactly what happens when these men are brought into the world by artificial means. The sheer diversity of these stories made for a delightful read. I liked the different variations on the same theme; no two stories are alike. There is absolutely something for everyone here. I really enjoyed it, and can absolutely recommend Stitch.
The Golem of Mala Lubovnya bye Kim Fielding
The golem awakes to a world he only partially understands, and quickly learns he’s been created by the rabbi for a strict purpose. He’s not sure exactly what that is, but he likes having a purpose. Though the rabbi created him in secret, and so he spends all of his time alone in the attic, the golem is able to watch the outside world from his window. In particular, he is drawn to the young mason building the house across the street. He is also able to listen to the songs of prayer that come from the temple every evening, where one beautiful voice captures his attention.
When the city is threatened, the rabbi shows everyone what he has created. The golem was made so that he can protect the Jewish inhabitants of the town from the threats of the city. Now that everyone knows he exists, the golem is allowed to be a part of the society. Jakob, the young man who the golem had watched from his window so intently, requests his help building his house. Jakob also gives the golem a name—Emet—from one of the symbols drawn on his chest. Emet learns from Jakob, and the two men fall in love. But when the worst fears come to life, Emet is pressed into action. He is severely injured saving as many people as he can. Since he was made from clay, and the rabbi ends his life, Emet thinks he’s done forever. But with Jakob’s love, he may have a chance to live forever.
This was an excellent story to start the anthology and probably my favorite of the bunch. Golem/Emet is just such a sweet and endearing character. He’s naïve, but has some understanding of the world around him. He wants to be useful, to have a purpose, and he’s happiest when he does. And he has no preconceived notions about why being gay would be wrong; he just knows that he loves Jakob and that he wants the very best for the man. When Jakob gives him his name, I just melted because it was such a touching moment. Jakob’s struggle with his sexuality was heartbreaking and wonderfully done; I really felt his anguish. I loved these two men together, and I was rooting for them the entire time. I couldn’t wait to see how they finally achieved their happily ever after. This was a satisfying read from start to finish.
Watchworks by Jamie Fessenden
Harland Wallace is a watch maker in 20th century London. When Luke Prescott calls at his home, at the behest of his employer, Harland accepts the invitation to meet with Dr. Mordecai Steward. He’s not exactly sure why he’s going to meet the doctor, but all that becomes clear. The doctor is frail and he needs help with some delicate work. When Luke removes his glove, Harland sees what he thinks is an incredibly intricate and vastly advanced prosthetic. He fixes the mechanism, but he doesn’t understand the extent of what he’s seen.
When Harland is asked to fix the problem with Luke’s hip, he’s blown away by the prosthetic there as well. And he can’t understand how it attaches to Luke’s body. Eventually, the doctor has to explain that Luke is actually an automaton, albeit one that is more advanced than anything ever created. Luke can actually think and feel. This news appalls Harland. He shuns his attraction to Luke and their budding friendship, and ignores all letters sent to his home. But when Luke is injured, Harland is forced to go back. It’s then that he realizes that no matter what Luke is, Harland cares for him. But Dr. Steward is old and fading fast, and Harland has to decide if he can protect Luke forever.
I loved this idea, and Fessenden executes it very well. I loved Harland. His emotions and reactions felt very real. I was right there with him as he experience confusion, revulsion, and acceptance. I really liked that nothing felt rushed. The story progressed at a believable rate, with Harland having time to process his thoughts and feelings in order to get to the place that he ended up. And I really enjoyed Harland and Luke together. It was easy to see how they fit.
My only one small quibble was that, at times, Luke seemed a bit too childlike for my liking. There were a few moments where it almost felt like Luke was being taken advantage of. I have to admit that it dampened my enjoyment of this story just a bit. But overall, a really great story with some very heartfelt moments. I particularly liked the ending as it gave a fantastic sense of closure.
Reparation by Eli Easton
On the distant and harsh planet Kalan, Edward is in a hover coach accident that nearly costs him his life and kills his wife and right-hand man. The storm that is brewing is harsh, and Edward—bleeding out and barely able to move—knows he’s going to die too. But one of his slaves, Knox, comes to his rescue. Knox is a recon. He has been created from the parts of condemned criminals and completely reprogrammed. But Knox is more intelligent than the average recon. In fact, he remembers things that he shouldn’t.
Edward has to keep running his farm and he taps Knox to be his second-in-command, even though it’s completely against social norms. They work well together. Friendship develops, and quickly moves to more. But Knox is remembering more and more of his past. When he remembers the reason that he was condemned to death, he admits it to Edward. Edward is horrified, and turns his back on Knox. Knox doesn’t blame him. But when another storm ravages the planet, the men must band together to save each other from death.
I loved the world that Easton created on this planet. I loved the slow build with this one; every piece of information was doled out at just the right time and the growing emotions between the two men felt believable and real. I loved Edward’s determination and steadfastness. And my heart just hurt for Knox as he was remembering more about himself as he was before. The two of them together worked incredibly well. I was, however, slightly disappointed with the fast ending. Knox makes some huge breakthroughs really fast and just in the nick of time. While I understood what the author was going for, and it did fit in a way, it seemed just a tiny bit too rushed to me.
Made for Aaron by Sue Brown
Aaron Fox is lost. His husband has disappeared after a horrific car accident that should have killed him, and Aaron doesn’t know how to function on his own. Damon has been his solace and support since they met while Aaron was imprisoned in an asylum. Committed as a teenager by his parents for being gay, Aaron’s only refuge was Damon Fox, the nurse who looked after him on a personal level, though they didn’t truly get together until after Aaron was eighteen. Now Aaron is looking for answers as to what happened to his husband and why Damon would have left him. When he finally gets them, he’s shocked to discover that Damon is a mader. A mader is someone created for the express purpose of supporting gay people in need. They are made to be exactly what that person needs. But since Damon has been injured, he’s been reprogrammed back to factory settings. Now the question is can Aaron move on like he’s being told he has to? Or is the bond between him and Damon enough to keep them together?
As much as I enjoyed this story, I have to say that it didn’t quite measure up to the rest of them for me. I loved the premise, and thought that Brown did an excellent job throughout the story. My heart just broke for Aaron. He was so lost without Damon that he only made himself function because he knew that if he didn’t, Damon would be mad. And therein lies the problem for me. Aaron was so completely dependent on Damon that he almost wasn’t his own person. It didn’t seem very healthy. And the truth was, I was hoping for a different ending, that Aaron could learn to stand on his own two feet and be the man that he could be.
I loved Aaron, and he did grow and change as the story progressed. I loved watching that. But we didn’t see very much of Damon at all, and I couldn’t connect to him. So when Aaron finally got to see Damon again, I didn’t feel as overjoyed as I should have. There was a lot that really worked here, but the romance aspect fell a little flat for me.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.